Lorna Peel, author of new novel Only You, stops by today to tell us more about the book and her inspiration behind it. In Only You, divorced evening-class teacher Jane finds herself unexpectedly interested in one of her students, who turns out to be a well-known actor.

Tell us about your latest novel in 15 words or less.
Can Jane handle living - and loving - in the spotlight?

What inspired you to write Only You?
In today’s celebrity culture everyone, it seems, wants to be famous. Being famous is fantastic, with parties and premiers, and having your picture in the papers and gossip magazines.

But is it? I wanted to explore what it would be really like to be in a relationship with someone famous but you wish they weren’t because you are a private person who likes a quiet life? Could you love that person enough to be able to put up with all the invasions of your privacy?

It’s a predicament and it’s why I created Jane Hollinger so she can try and work it out.

Where do you do most of your writing?
Anywhere warm with a comfy chair where I can type away on my laptop!

What is your favourite book?
I don’t have a favourite book but I definitely have a favourite author. I love Sharon Kay Penman’s historical novels, especially The Sunne in Splendour and her Welsh trilogy. The amount of research which goes into her books must be huge but her novels never suffer from info-dump-itis!

Which part of Only You did you enjoy writing the most?
I loved writing the first draft. Editing, grammar, spelling and filling in any plot holes all come later. I love the freedom of getting the first draft written and it took me about two months.

Who is your favourite literary heroine?
Probably Jane Eyre. Outwardly, she seems mousey and quiet but she’s got real backbone and isn’t afraid to stand up for herself.

Do you have any tips for readers who are looking to become published writers?
You have to be stubborn, grow a very thick skin, keep believing in yourself and your writing and never give up.

Are you working on anything else at the moment and if so, can you tell us?
My current project is an historical romance called Into The Unknown and is set in England and Ireland during World War Two. This is the blurb:

London on 3 September 1939 is in upheaval. War is inevitable. Into this turmoil steps Kate Sheridan, newly arrived from Ireland to live with her aunt and uncle, and look for work. When she meets Flight Lieutenant Charlie Butler sparks fly, but he is a notorious womaniser. Should she ignore all the warnings and get involved with a ladies man whose life will be in daily danger?

Charlie Butler has no intention of getting involved with a woman. But when he meets Kate his resolve is shattered. Should he allow his heart to rule his head and fall for a nineteen year old Irish girl while there is a war to fight?

Private conflicts and personal doubts are soon overshadowed. Will the horrors of total war bring Kate and Charlie together or tear them apart?

Thanks, Lorna!

You can find out more about Lorna Peel and Only You by visiting her website, Twitter or Facebook. You can also add Only You to your shelves on Goodreads.

Only You by Lorna Peel
Jane Hollinger is the wrong side of thirty, divorced and struggling to pay the mortgage her cheating ex left her with. As a qualified genealogist, teaching family history evening classes is a way for her to make ends meet. But she begins to wonder if it’s such a good idea when a late enroller for the class is a little… odd. “Badly-blond Bloke” both scares and intrigues Jane, and when she discovers he is her all-time favourite actor and huge crush, Robert Armstrong, she’s stunned. Even more stunning to Jane is the fact that Robert is interested in her romantically. He’s everything she ever dreamed of, and more, but can she overcome her fear of living in the public eye to be with the man she loves?

BOOK REVIEW: Married by Midnight by Talli Roland

Christmas is almost here, and it's been fun reading some of the many festive-themed novels that have been released over the past few months, including some novellas. I was lucky to receive a copy of Talli Roland's new Christmas story, Married by Midnight, which was released in early November, and after having loved her previous Christmas tales, Mistletoe in Manhattan and Miracle at the Museum of Broken Hearts, I was looking forward to this one.

Kate is soon to be married to Tim, her seemingly perfect fiance. After all, it's written in the stars - both Kate and her Mum, firm believers in astrology, have consulted the horoscopes and all signs point to a perfect match. Even if sport-mad Tim really doesn't seem like the best match for Kate. The stars can't be wrong...

With Mum and sister Bea in tow, Kate's on the hunt for a wedding dress in a local boutique when she stumbles upon a vintage dress from the 1930s. It's the perfect dress. And pinned into its delicate fabric is a good-luck note.

Determined, Kate and Bea set out on a mission to uncover the history of the dress and the mysterious note in time for Kate's wedding.

Married by Midnight is a short book, which I finished in one sitting along with some hot chocolate. It's the perfect festive read, and I thoroughly enjoyed every page. Talli is a very talented writer, having written some fantastic novels (including Build a Man, Watching Willow Watts, The Pollyanna Plan and most recent novel The No-Kids Club) which is evident in this story, and even though Married by Midnight is short, it's a magical tale complete with wonderful characters.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK NEWS: The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George

There are to be many exciting new books being released in 2015, and one of those titles is The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George. Published in April, The Little Paris Bookshop looks set to be an enchanting, romantic tale about a bookseller who possesses a wonderful gift.

On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a 'literary apothecary', for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust - until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

BOOK NEWS: The Cake Shop in the Garden by Carole Matthews

The Cake Shop in the Garden is the upcoming novel from bestselling author Carole Matthews (her festive novel The Christmas Party is such a fun read!) Sadly, we're going to have to wait a little while yet - The Cake Shop in the Garden will not be released until April 2015! Read on for the blurb...

Fay Merryweather runs her cake shop from her beautiful garden. She whips up airy sponges and scrumptious scones, while her customers enjoy the lovely blossoms and gorgeous blooms. Looking after the cake shop, the garden and her cantankerous mother means Fay is always busy but she accepts her responsibilities because if she doesn't do all this, who will? Then Danny Wilde walks into her life and makes Fay question every decision she's ever made. When a sudden tragedy strikes, Fay's entire world is thrown off balance even further and she doesn't know which way to turn. Can Fay find the strength to make a life-changing decision - even if it means giving up the thing she loves the most? Life, love and family are about to collide in The Cake Shop in the Garden.

BOOK REVIEW: A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Back in June, I reviewed Chrissie Manby's long-awaited - and much loved! - summer novel A Proper Family Holiday, in which the Benson family head off for a family trip abroad to Lanzarote, much to the dismay of magazine writer Chelsea. To Society writer Chelsea, a package holiday in a rather unglamorous resort with the rest of the Benson clan, including moody sister Ronnie, is the stuff of nightmares. That is, until Chelsea - and her sister - begin to learn a few things about life and family. Including their parents' big secret...

Now the Bensons are back, in festive tale A Proper Family Christmas. And the family might just be expanding.

In the Great House in a country village, Annabel Buchanan is preparing to open her home, a stunning manor house seeped in history, to the public for a local event, much to the annoyance of teenage daughter Izzy and doting husband Richard. Annabel has the perfect life; wealth, an enviable upbringing, a loving husband, a wonderful daughter. Not to mention her beautiful house. Privately-educated Annabel has it all. Though she, too, is keeping a secret.

When seemingly perfect daughter Izzy makes a devastating mistake at a festival, Annabel's life is turned upside down. Izzy's health is rapidly deteriorating, and she won't improve fully until she receives a new kidney. And with Annabel and Richard both unable to donate, Annabel is forced to do something she was never planning on ever doing, if it will save her daughter's life - admitting her secret - that she was adopted - and seeking out her biological family.

Annabel was once named Daisy, the daughter of two teenage parents. The Bensons.

Annabel soon learns that her birth parents are Jacqui and Dave Benson, and compared to her own upbringing, the Buchanans and the Bensons appear to be worlds apart. Annabel is dismayed when faced with her real roots, although she'll do anything possible to help Izzy - even if it means spending time with her overly-loving birth parents and the unruly Ronnie. The Bensons, on the other hand, are overjoyed that their first child Daisy has come back into their lives. But it's only a matter of time before they realise the Buchanans' true intentions...

With hilarious and heart-warming scenes that made the first novel so charming and fun, the slightly dysfunctional yet loving Bensons are back, along with the Buchanans, and I loved this novel. Most of the book takes place after the Lanzarote trip of A Proper Family Holiday, and it's wonderfully addictive. Those familiar with the first book will remember Chelsea, Ronnie, teenager Sophie, six-year-old Jack and of course, Grandad Bill - however, if you haven't read A Proper Family Holiday, not to worry - events are described throughout the book so it can be read as a standalone novel. The characters are great in their own ways - even Annabel, who I easily disliked at the beginning, though later in the book, I began to sympathise with her. Husband Richard is a lovely character, as is Izzy. Each chapter focuses on a different character and their lives, such as Chelsea, and her growing relationship with widower Adam (and his precocious daughter, Lily).

A Proper Family Christmas is a warm, fun and festive read that I would definitely recommend.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK NEWS: The Temp by Emily Benet

The Temp is the newly-released novel from Wattpad sensation Emily Benet. After becoming well-loved on Wattpad, the serialised novel was picked up by HarperCollins. The paperback is available on December 18th, and is all about new graduate Amber who takes to temping before apparently finding her calling in the art world...

Twenty-something Amber is fresh out of university with a degree she has no clue what to do with...so she temps in order to earn enough money to cover the cost of living the good life in London. While scrounging free wine from a wacky modern art gallery (her favourite life-hack) she looks at the 'art' and thinks 'if they can do it, why not me?'. Enter a drop-dead gorgeous gallery promoter and a bunch of unlikely friends, including her housemate Egg (short for Egbert), to help - and hinder - her crazy idea to unleash spray painted bananas across the capital. Laugh out loud with this fun romantic comedy and follow Amber as she literally spray paints the town red - and blue - and yellow - and pink...

BOOK NEWS: When I Met You by Jemma Forte

Having thoroughly enjoyed Jemma Forte's novel If You're Not the One earlier this year, it was exciting to find out that Jemma's next book will be released in January. When I Met You focuses on Marianne, whose life is about to change completely when her father reveals a big secret.

Marianne Baker is happy. Sort of. She's worked at the same job for years (nearly 15, but who's counting), she lives at home with her mum (who is driving her crazy) and sleeps in a single bed (yep, her love life is stalled). Playing the violin is her only real passion - but nobody like her does that for a living. Then one night everything changes. The father who abandoned Marianne over twenty years ago turns up on her doorstep, with a dark secret that changes her life forever. Suddenly Marianne's safe, comfortable world is shattered. If her father isn't the man she thought he was, then who is he? And, more to the point, who is she? It's time to find out who the real Marianne Baker is.

BOOK NEWS: Someone Like You by Amy Smolcic

Someone Like You is the debut novel from Australian author and student Amy Smolcic, focusing on top model Chloe and aspiring musician Jaeger. Someone Like You is due for release on 7th December, and you can find out more about Amy at her website.

She has walked on the catwalks of every major designer and earner enough money to live comfortably for ten lifetimes. Country girl, Chloe Jackson, has hit it big.

However, all that glitters isn't gold and beneath the lights and glamour is a dark world.

Jaeger Colton dreams of greatness. He and his band relocated to New York City with the hope of making it big. But with their record contract being cancelled, his dream has been put on hold. With the disappointment, will he chase the dream he desperately wants?

When their worlds collide, can Jaeger help Chloe pick up the pieces? Or, will it be up to Chloe to transform her broken life?

COVER NEWS: Don't Tell the Brides-To-Be by Anna Bell

Anna Bell's brilliant Don't Tell series continues next year with Don't Tell The Brides-To-Be, the latest tale of professional wedding planner Penny, and here is the lovely new cover! Don't Tell the Brides-To-Be is the third book in the series, and will be published in February.

Things are looking up for Penny Robinson. She's kicked her gambling addiction and even started her own business: Princess on a Shoestring, an all-inclusive service for brides-to-be looking to pinch pennies on their big day.

Between family rows and wardrobe calamities, wedding planning is no piece of cake... but Penny's got it all under control. That is, until a rival planner decides to take her down - one hard-won bride at a time.

Now Penny must fight to save her reputation and her livelihood before its too late. But when a romantic weekend away has some unexpected consequences, Penny's expectations for her career are brought back down to earth with a bump.

EVENTS: Blogger weekend at Owlpen Manor with Kate Riordan and Penguin Books

A couple of weeks ago, I received an exciting invite from Penguin Books to a weekend event in Gloucestershire to celebrate the new novel by Kate Riordan. Published in January, The Girl in the Photograph is an intriguing tale set in the countryside, in the historic Firecombe Manor. The beautiful Owlpen Manor Estate, near Uley, was in fact the inspiration behind Firecombe and the novel, and during the weekend myself and fellow book bloggers were lucky enough to experience this beautiful place for ourselves.

When Alice Eveleigh arrives at Fiercombe Manor during the long, languid summer of 1933, she finds a house steeped in mystery and brimming with secrets. Sadness permeates its empty rooms and the isolated valley seems crowded with ghosts, none more alluring than Elizabeth Stanton whose only traces remain in a few tantalisingly blurred photographs. Why will no one speak of her? What happened a generation ago to make her vanish? As the sun beats down relentlessly, Alice becomes ever more determined to unearth the truth about the girl in the photograph - and stop her own life from becoming an eerie echo of Elizabeth's...

Arriving at the Owlpen Estate, I was greeted by Jessica from Penguin, who showed me to my lovely cottage. Grist Mill is an eighteenth-century mill, beautifully restored and so very cosy! Soon after exploring the cottage, I was met by bloggers (and weekend housemates!) Lizzie and Melissa, and began to get ready for lunch.

At the Cynder House we were met by the lovely Kate Riordan and the ladies from Penguin, which gave us the opportunity to chat to Kate and find out more about the book. The Girl in the Photograph, we were told, was originally going to be a ghost story, though this later changed. However, having now visited Owlpen, it's understandable how one could be inspired to write such a book. Steeped in history, Owlpen Manor is located in a Cotswold valley, with old buildings and complete darkness at night. Anyone who isn't familiar with living in such a rural location (myself included, being a city girl) may find it slightly eerie! But that's one of the many reasons why I loved this place.

We were taken on a tour of the Manor House by Sir Nicholas, who explained the history of Owlpen Manor and showed us around the grounds. The house is absolutely stunning and so very inspiring.

Later, we had afternoon tea in the cottage, then took some time to relax before the evening's dinner, which was a delicious three-course meal in the Cynder House. We chatted more with Kate and each other about the novel, and book blogging in general. It was a lovely evening, and later it was nice to get into my cosy bed in Grist Mill to read The Girl in the Photograph. Reading the book whilst staying at Owlpen was such a magical experience.

(Group picture taken by Sarah from Penguin).

Kate was absolutely lovely, and the whole weekend was such great fun. In fact, I didn't want to go home on Sunday; Owlpen is such a nice place that I wish I was back there! In fact, if you are looking for a cosy place to relax, and enjoy a historical location, then do check out Owlpen Manor.

A big thank-you to Kate Riordan, Penguin Books and Owlpen for a truly wonderful experience.

BOOK REVIEW: The Christmas Party by Carole Matthews

Bestselling author Carole Matthews has returned this winter with festive novel The Christmas Party (her second book of 2014, after January release A Place to Call Home). I have always been a fan of Carole's books, and her previous Christmas-themed novels have been a joy to read. So I was particularly looking forward to The Christmas Party, in which the annual festive event of a huge corporate firm threatens to unleash some pretty scandalous secrets...

Louise is a newcomer to large company Fossil Oil. After her recent breakup, doting single mum Louise has moved back in with her parents in an attempt to clear her debts and get her life back on track. A new career is a definite wish too, and her new job - PA to Fossil Oil manager Tyler Benson - is a good place to start working her way up the corporate ladder. Even if Tyler does try to seduce her at every opportunity. Louise has no interest, and romance is not exactly on the cards right now, let alone with her married boss. Then again, there's the handsome and talented Josh Wallace - that is, if Louise can remove him from the clutches of office pal (and rival for Josh's affection!), Karen.

Meanwhile, Kirsten Benson is bored. Having known about Tyler's cheating ways for a long, long time, Kirsten is wondering what she's doing with her life, She's lonely, for starters, and dreading the lavish Fossil Oil Christmas party. Kirsten knows that she'll come face to face with Tyler's new PA, who will no doubt take a specific interest in her husband. (Well, the last one did...)

Pretending she's having a good time at the fancy event is proving to be a difficult task, especially when Simon turns up out of the blue, announcing his new role at Fossil as Tyler's new boss. And Simon and Kirsten have a history of their own...

And there's Melissa. Being the wife of a rich businessman isn't as glitzy as it seems. Clearly, as Melissa once fell into the arms of Tyler Benson. And she wants more. With her husband's recent announcement about Fossil that is not only about to shake up the entire company, but also send her straight back to the States, she has to get Tyler for herself - and fast.

Three women are about to experience an unforgettable Christmas party, in more ways than one.

When I began reading The Christmas Party, I did not envision the many twists and events that came up in this novel. It became swiftly addictive, from the run-up to what would seem like any normal office Christmas party to life-changing events for all three of the main female characters. I found each of them likable in their own ways, despite the rivalry and secrets that went on throughout the book! We've all experiences some eventful office parties, which is another reason why this was an interesting read. Carole has a talent of creating interesting, relatable characters in all of her novels and The Christmas Party was no different. If you are looking for a festive story that's fun (and more scandalous than overly-sweet), then The Christmas Party is definitely for you.

Rating: 5/5

BOOK NEWS: Don't Mention the Rock Star by Bree Darcy

Don't Mention the Rock Star is the debut novel by Australian writer and journalist Bree Darcy, published on January 15. Married showbiz reporter Kellie is about to have her life made quite difficult. It's one thing being reunited with your ex-boyfriend - but what happens when that boyfriend is now a famous rock star?

They fell in love in an instant … so why have they spent a lifetime apart?

As a teenager Kellie dated an American boy but circumstances meant they went their separate ways. Now he’s back and she’s so tempted to see him again. But two decades have passed and they are both married with children.

And the last thing a celebrity reporter like her needs is the world finding out about her past relationship with a rock star. Especially as Kellie’s husband doesn’t even know she once dated AJ Dangerfield, lead singer of legendary band Danger Game. And she has no intention of him finding out. EVER.

As Kellie deals with a demanding boss, a bullied son, an infuriating mother-in-law and a best friend who won’t act her age, she finds herself playing a dangerous game. What will happen if her two worlds collide? And is it possible that first love never fades?

FESTIVE READS: Christmas Novellas

We've already featured some great new Christmas reads from some well-loved and debut writers. Here are some shorter festive reads - novellas perfect for curling up with in winter.

Sealed With a Christmas Kiss by Rachel Lucas
Kate has taken to life on the remote Scottish island of Auchenmor like a seal to water: she's given a new lease of life to the Laird's estate in her day job; she's befriended the once-nosy locals; and even young Laird Roddy is not quite so grumpy these days.

Better still, Kate has just had her best idea yet: they'll turn the castle into the most gorgeous wedding venue in Scotland. The pressure's on as the first wedding is booked in for Christmas Eve - just weeks away. But with a mismatched bride and groom, a hysterical PR on her case, her own relationship woes and a huge storm blowing in, can Kate pull it off in time?

The Gift: A Christmas Miracle by Joanne Clancy
Julie Hamilton loves Christmas. It’s her favorite time of year, from the cinnamon smell of freshly baked mince-pies to the excitement of buying gifts for family and friends, decorating the tree, and hanging stockings for Santa Claus on the mantelpiece. 

This Christmas promises to be extra special because she’s expecting the perfect gift--her first baby--on Christmas Eve. 

However, a chance encounter turns her world upside down, and soon, she’s praying for her very own Christmas miracle. 

Can the spirit of the Christmas season and the kindness of strangers find a way to make her wish come true?

The Perfect Christmas by Kate Forster
Hollywood movie star Maggie and friend and manager Zoe need an escape from their complicated star-studded lives in LA. With its history and Christmas charm, London feels like the perfect getaway.

But can they truly leave their realities behind?

In their luxurious quarters, the girls meet Holly who is ideal at showing Maggie and Zoe the sumptuous sights and sounds of London in their most glittering light. But behind her bright façade, Holly is hiding a secret: suffering from unrequited love, she’s looking for a Christmas miracle. Desperate to see an unattainable love story for Holly come together, will our LA starlets succeed in providing a Hollywood ending before the dawn of Christmas Day?

Secret Santa by Scarlett Bailey
A self-confessed Christmas queen, Sue Montaigne prides herself on organising the annual nativity pageant in her small Cornish village of Poldore.

But this year, what with having to deal with the repairs on Castle House after it was wrecked by a terrible storm, training a new – and frankly flighty – Virgin Mary and managing a Joseph who is allergic to sheep, she is distinctly lacking a little bit of ‘me time’.

And then there are the auditions for the new Santa. But nothing prepares her for the beautiful man who turns up, a twinkle in his eye and a promise to make her Christmas dreams come true…

Christmas at the Cove by Victoria Connelly
When Millie Venning escapes to her aunt's cottage on the windswept Devon coast for Christmas, she isn't looking for romance. So, when she finds a handsome stranger already at the cottage, she's baffled. Has her aunt double-booked the cottage by mistake or is she up to her match-making tricks once again? 

NEW RELEASE: It's Not Me It's You by Mhairi McFarlane

Mhari McFarlane, bestselling author of You Had me at Hello and Here's Looking at You, is back with new novel It's Not Me, It's You, which is available now. 

Delia Moss isn't quite sure where she went wrong. When she proposed and discovered her boyfriend was sleeping with someone else - she thought it was her fault. When she realised life would never be the same again - she thought it was her fault. And when he wanted her back like nothing had changed - Delia started to wonder if perhaps she was not to blame...From Newcastle to London and back again, with dodgy jobs, eccentric bosses and annoyingly handsome journalists thrown in, Delia must find out where her old self went - and if she can ever get her back.

UNCOVERED PICKS: Five more festive reads!

As it's now truly winter outside and Christmas is now well on its way, it's been great fun curling up with some festive reads.  Here are five more Christmas picks, including the new novel from Talli Roland and the sequel to Holly Martin's One Hundred Proposals.

One Hundred Christmas Proposals by Holly Martin
If you thought Harry & Suzie’s life couldn't get anymore sweepingly romantic than Harry asking her to marry him at the end of One Hundred Proposals – think again!

It’s Christmas in a snow-kissed London, and the.PerfectProposal.com have vowed to carry out one hundred proposals in December. No easy task at the best of times - made even more complicated by Harry & Suzie trying to plan their first Christmas and a visit from the dreaded in-laws. But one hundred deliciously Christmassy proposals later they find themselves asking if everything is still perfect in their own relationship….

Welcome back to the divinely warm world of One Hundred Proposals – with a sprinkling of pure, joyful, festive magic.

The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman
Meet Britain's Worst Innkeeper...

Single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie, has five days to become the ultimate B&B hostess to save her beloved Aunt Kate’s livelihood. 

When Aunt Kate ends up in the hospital, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter are called to rural Wales to stand in at the B&B. Without the faintest idea how to run a hotel (she can barely run her own life), Lottie must impress the picky hotel reviewer and his dysfunctional family who are coming to stay over Christmas. Without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood. 
But will Danny, the local taxi driver who she hires to help her, really be Santa’s little helper, or the Grinch who stole Christmas? 

Married by Midnight by Talli Roland
Christmas is coming . . . and so is the biggest day of Kate's life.

While choosing a vintage dress for her Christmas Eve wedding, Kate finds a cryptic note pinned to the inside of a 1930s gown. As doubts about her own ceremony loom, Kate is determined to track down the dress' owner and determine what became of her - and the marriage.

Will Kate find the answers she's seeking to propel her down the aisle, or will her discovery prompt her to call off the wedding for good?

Cold Feet at Christmas by Debbie Johnson
Running out on your wedding shouldn’t be this much fun!

A remote Scottish castle on a snowy Christmas Eve. A handsome husband-to-be. A dress to die for. It should have been the happiest day of Leah Harvey’s life – but the fairytale wedding turns sour when she finds her fiancé halfway up the bridesmaid’s skirt just hours before the ceremony!

Fleeing the scene in a blizzard, Leah ends up stranded at the nearest cottage, where she collapses into the arms of its inhabitant – a man so handsome she thinks she must have died and gone to heaven!

And when Rob Cavelli suddenly finds himself with an armful of soaking wet, freezing cold, and absolutely gorgeous bride on the run, he’s more than happy to welcome her into his snowbound cottage this Christmas…

The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown
Heartbroken after being jilted at the altar, Sybil has been saved from despair by her knitting obsession and now her home is filled to bursting with tea cosies, bobble hats, and jumpers. But, after discovering that she may have perpetrated the cock-up of the century at work, Sybil decides to make a hasty exit and, just weeks before Christmas, runs away to the picturesque village of Tindledale.

There, Sybil discovers Hettie’s House of Haberdashery, an emporium dedicated to the world of knitting and needle craft. But Hettie, the outspoken octogenarian owner, is struggling and now the shop is due for closure. And when Hettie decides that Sybil’s wonderfully wacky Christmas jumpers are just the thing to add a bit of excitement to her window display, something miraculous starts to happen…

BLOG TOUR: A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby

Today we're delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Chrissie Manby's new festive novel A Proper Family Christmas. We absolutely loved summer novel A Proper Family Holiday, and now the Bensons family's back, this time with some Christmas drama!

As part of her tour, Chrissie has shared with us a memorable Christmas experience - receiving a rather disappointing present. Read on for more...

Merry Cringemas
By Chrissie Manby

One of the most enduring yet least spoken about Christmas traditions has to be the receiving of disappointing presents.  I know it’s churlish to call any present ‘disappointing’, but, let’s face it, we all know that sinking feeling when you open the doll’s house-sized box to discover a typewriter inside.  (Actually, Mum and Dad, that typewriter and the ‘Learn to touch type’ book turned out to be one of my best presents ever. I’m thankful for my resulting super-fast typing speed every time I have to produce a 500 word feature in less than a day).
     A few years ago however, my dear friend Janet in Utah sent me the most hideous Christmas present imaginable.  It was a 'handmade' patchwork waistcoat from an ‘artisan’ craft shop.  Packaged in a recycled cardboard box (of course), lined with tissue paper that reminded me of the rough pink stuff we had in the loos at school, the waistcoat did indeed look very handmade. By someone with hooves instead of actual hands. Worse than that, it smelled as though it had been stitched together from old quilt covers that hadn't been cleaned since the corpse they covered was carted off to the mortuary and the bed-clothes were sent down to Oxfam. In fact, when my flat-mate walked into the house the day I received and opened the parcel, the first thing she said was 'what on earth is that terrible smell?'
     Shutting the eco-friendly box and resealing it would not contain the waistcoat’s 'eau de second hand shop'.  But it was obviously expensive – as handmade things always are - and I was sure my friend had thought long and hard before buying it.  So, of course, I thanked her effusively.  I got out a handmade note-card – the type that costs a pound more than an ordinary note-card because someone has pritt-sticked a chicken feather on the front – and I filled it with praise for the waistcoat’s loveliness.  Totally original, I assured her. I will be thinking of you as I wear it on Christmas Day.
And then I put the waistcoat on E-bay.
     You can sell anything on E-bay - I’m continually astonished by the amount of money people will spend on used shoes – so I wasn’t at all surprised when the waistcoat received a couple of bids.  However, I was surprised to discover that, because I had thanked her so effusively, my dear friend Janet logged onto E-bay to look for an item by the same designer for my birthday.  And that’s how she found out that I was flogging not just her Christmas present but the present she had sent me the Christmas before (a bracelet made out of old spoons)... Fortunately, she claims she found it quite funny and we are, incredibly, still friends.  I suppose that's the spirit of Christmas for you.  Or perhaps it’s just the generosity of Janet.  This year, one of my New Year’s Resolutions is to try to be as open-hearted and forgiving as my pal.

A Proper Family Christmas by Chrissie Manby
Take one Queen Bee: Annabel Buchanan, with a perfect house in the country, a rich husband and a beautiful daughter, Izzy ...and one large, loud family: the Bensons. What happens when their worlds collide? When Izzy suddenly falls dangerously ill, adoptee Annabel has to track down her biological family to see if they can help her daughter. But can she see past the Bensons' brash exteriors to the warm, loving people they are at heart? With December just around the corner, is it too much to hope that the Bensons and the Buchanans can have a proper family Christmas?

Author photo by Michael Pilkington.