Pageviews last month

Sunday, 12 June 2022

HRT or Not HRT - That is the Question


So yesterday this appeared in the Daily Mail and eyes rolled everywhere in our writing community. There are two issues of course. The first is that there is a misconception that there are no books out there for women of a certain age, featuring women of a certain age. The dawn of a 'new genre' - sorry, loves, that sun isn't just peeping over the horizon, it's been shining brightly for years. 

When I started, though I enjoyed reading books about twentysomethings... they were no longer relevant to me and I wanted to write books for women like me who I could identify with: sparky women of forty, fifty, six, even seventy. Strong women, not 'nana's who crocheted incessantly while chomping on Wethers Originals, but who had sex and fun and were chiselled from wisdom and experience.  There are LOADS of great books out there written by my big name contemporaries that champion older women and for this article to say 'new genre' sticks in my craw because it's as if they aren't even on the radar!

The second issue is 'the menopause'. Yes we know middle-aged women go through it. It's like Covid though - you can skirt over the issue or acknowledge it. In one of my books, I did feature it. A group of 'Old Spice Girls' in my Sunshine Over Wildflower Cottage. I wanted to  talk about it because I sensed a tide turning. That said, it was never more about their hot sweats than the women themselves. THEY took centre stage, not their symptoms (though some made for good comic effects).

The book featured in the article 'The Change' is excellent. I was sent an advance copy and I enjoyed it. It's got a lot more to it than just women going through a natural stage in their life, there's magic in the pages - literally - and I hope it does brilliantly, I'm sure it will. BUT Clare Hey, who is my editor and mentioned in the article is absolutely right that S & S are proud to publish older female authors writing for and about women our own age because I've been with them from the beginning and I know this for a fact.

Women in our books walk tall and are comfortable in their own skin anyway without needing the menopause to empower them. I suppose there will be people reading the article and already penning their menopause thrillers and maybe that's what the market wants. But is this just the flip side of the 'chick lit' tag? Will it spawn a whole library of books focusing on memory loss, bloating and er... memory loss rather than strong characterisation and plot because if you chuck some Tenaladys in, no one will notice the lack of them? Do you have to throw in a daily dose of HRT to make your women strong? Are they competent because of the menopause or in spite of it.

I think Ronnie Henry had the perfect comment on this whole thing. She said that she 'likes her women to be defined by a bit more than their hormones, though obviously that can be part of their make-up. But they are more than hot flushes and mood swings.' 

There you have it. If the menopause has to feature, let it not absorb all the interest or we are heading for 'chick-lit II' and - dear god - we really don't want that. We've enough battles on our hands to be taken seriously! I'm waiting for the male writers to catch on and write the equivalent. 'Dan is on the trail of a serial killer. He was a second rate cop but since his prostate started to swell, he finds his detective skills have sharpened...' Or maybe 'The Saturday Erectile Dysfunction Club - four men who... ' I can't even be bothered finishing off that sentence. Suffice to say, I somehow don't think that's going to happen.

And should you want some books that feature older women who aren't dotty drips groping for their calcium supplements... 

Christmas at the Beach Hunt - Veronica Henry - a plot driven by menopausal women running away from Christmas

The Singles Series - Elaine Spires -  the series follows a peri menopausal woman Eve who takes groups of tourists all over the world while living her best life. 

A Scandinavian Summer - Helga Jensen-Forde - whose books always feature over 45s

The Library, The Girls - Bella Osborne - both books have fabulous older women as lead characters

Sunshine and Second Chances - Kim Nash - is about 4 x 50 year olds going away to celebrate their joint birthdays

Her Last Holiday - CL Taylor - a thriller with a 52 year old main character

Elaine Everest books - who writes about older women in her sagas as they are so colourful and worldly wise

Cathy Bramley, Jill Mansell, Jo Thomas, Catherine Jones, Katie Fforde, Judy Astley - all write fabulous mature women

The Old Girls' Network - Judy Lee

The Spa Break - Caroline James - '70 is the new 40'

Five French Hens - Judy Leigh - 5 women in their 70s on a hen do in Paris. 

Karin Trunk Holmqvist - a Swedish author who writes about older people, books which are funny as well as wise.

The Winter of Second Chances - Jenny Bayliss - a fab book about a menopausal woman starting over.

Alex Brown - whose last TEN books all have older heroines

Woman of a Certain Rage - by Georgie Hall

Mental Pause - Anne Louise O'Connell - a thriller about a woman going through the menopause who is accused of murder

So... not really a 'new genre' then eh? 

Monday, 29 November 2021

Nothing to See Here Folks, Just Women Writing Fiction. Do Move Along...

The world of publishing is terrified of coming across as discriminatory in this age of equality for all. It is rightly important that everyone is represented. Unless you happen to be a woman writing ‘popular’ fiction, genre fiction, if you like, contemporary stories, romance, historical, sagas. Then you might as well grab yourself a sackcloth and a bell and roam the streets calling ‘Unclean, unclean’ ahead of you. Misogyny is alive and kicking in our world, though it pretends it isn't.

Only recently Phillipa Ashley and I were having a convo. 'Why don't the telly have a popular fiction series with the big selling books people really buy and interviews with authors in their homes/hometowns and some sneaky looks at the world of publishing and bookselling and supermarket books? They could visit creative writing classes for real people, or go to a book festival, like in Cannock?' she said (she set up the Cannock Chase book festival and it was fabulous!). 'No posh elitist stuff'. She put a worm in my brain that great to the size of a giant anaconda. The pair of us have been batting back and forwards ideas, as well as frustrations. 

Take this week. Someone came out on Twitter to say that she watched the Sara Cox book show because she likes her personally, but... 

That kicked a nest full of hornets. Why indeed? What is it about our books that terrifies presenters from featuring them? Do they think that they’ll be laughed at by the cool kids for daring to advertise a book full of wisdom and wit that features that stuff of life we all crave – romance (and though it’s classified as romance, sometimes the big love story is about a community coming together or friendship). Will these presenters or journos reveal themselves as inferior beings for choosing a book for their show/publication that doesn’t have a serial killer in it? It is a question not even Stephen Hawking could have answered with all the might of his knowledge: why are our crafted books seen as ‘lesser’?


We have a lot of support from some fabulous journos, it has to be said. Some of the magazines out there are shining stars of generosity, thank goodness. They aren’t afraid to feature crime books too, but then no one is. And yet, for many, there is a reticence, a terror about applauding one of our books publicly especially if they feature women on the cover. Guess what – we have male readers as well, folks. And they say we write ‘men’ every bit as good as men do. Go us!


A couple of years ago I was invited onto a radio programme with Eamonn Holmes to talk about prizes and book shows that totally ignore us. It was, what Mother Teresa might have called ‘a shit show’. I was led to believe I was being guided onto a sympathetic platform to make a case: ‘Why can't we have a show for genre fiction? Why does every book show have to be so blimming highbrow when we know our readers want to hear about US?' I'm doing all right, I'm in supermarkets and bookshops and I get my fair share of PR, but plenty of good authors aren't and they're caught up in a vicious circle of needing to get into bookshops/supermarkets to get exposure, but need the exposure to get into the shops. So chagrin was in plentiful supply as I was told with a snigger that I ‘probably write the sorts of books that are made into films that come out just before Christmas and always feature a lumberjack’. Totally dissed the whole genre, while worshipping at the shrine of his other guest Marian Keyes WHO WRITES THE SAME BOOKS WE DO. When Marian said she knew my books, EH was HORRIFIED that she could mix with the likes of such a lower caste. The irony was that he galvanised every prejudice I had gone onto the programme to prove existed and wanted to break down. Disappointing wasn’t the word, he could have done a lot of good there. An opportunity totally wasted. Just an excuse to use up some excess tomatoes that needed throwing at an upstart author, albeit one who's shifted millions of books, who the researcher hadn't even bothered to look up. 


The sniffy people see our books as fluff, insubstantial, 'chick-lit' (oh please - think of something more original!) but maybe they should see them as the big business they are, as oil in the wheels of the industry machine, that keep it going so it can give out fat advances to authors of literary fiction who won’t earn it out. We make profit. No one gives us publishing deals because they feel obliged to. During the pandemic our figures soared as people wanted the dear familiarity of human contact and company and simple pleasures such as going out for some cake and they couldn’t do it in reality, so plumped for it virtually.  They wrote more letters to us than usual – and that’s quite a quantity.  Thank you for keeping me sane. Thank you for giving me my reading mojo back. Thank you for the escapism, for helping my destroyed mental health, for keeping me company during a long night shift on the ward. The letters make me cry a lot. They can be heartbreaking. We don’t write books to change people’s lives but sometimes that happens as a surprising byproduct. We write templates of happy lives for people who sometimes follow in the footsteps of our fictional characters and realise that with a few small, but essential changes, they can alter a lot they are unhappy with and make it so much better. 

We aren't sniffy about other genres, 'My goodness, a story featuring a talking cat, how ridiculous!' (The Last House on Needless Street, incidentally. Read it, it's amazing!) Reading is subjective, there are books for all tastes and exposure should reflect that. It's not for programme makers to censure what people enjoy and want. Give them a wide selection. Give them literary and crime and humour and romance. Chuck in a saga or a good wartime novel.


Last week I sold 7660 paperbacks, only Richard Osman sold more in fiction paperbacks. No mention though of the northern oik impudent female who reached her highest chart position on the Sunday Times bestseller list, especially at this time of year where a sea of big names and celebrities have their books out jostling for space on the shelves. At number nine on the list Phillipa Ashley with her ‘A Special Cornish Christmas’, over six and a half thousand sold. Cathy Bramley and her ‘A Merry Christmas Project’ top of the Amazon charts… Jenny Colgan on the New York Times Best seller list, Trisha Ashley storming it with a hardback, Nicola May who made the publishing trade mag acknowledge her astronomical self-published sales figures and those who came after her … and more names. Every one of these a businesswoman a driven, powerhouse of grit and determination and luckily a backbone of iron.

Oh and if you're thinking 'She's just pissed off that she didn't get a mention.'  Too right I am. Because I would have if I hadn't written in my genre and that is my whole point.' I don't need that exposure - I have the love and support of my readers, but it would have been nice and I deserve it - this is a great achievement for me...'And snapping at the heels of Richard Osman is literary writer MJ with a startling X sales this week with her book about being snowed in.' And much as I do love RO, he's been plugging up the top spot so much, I really don't need to read every week that he's still clinging onto the gold with his perma-photo, I'll take it as standard until he's not. I want to hear about X who has written a book about a Christmas market and has thudded into the number seven spot. Where has she come from? What's her back story? Why have I been reading The Bookseller for X years and can't remember the last time a romance writer had a profile piece done about her, apart from Jojo Moyes who has become so massive she is impossible to bypass? Is this the only way then - to get so big they can't ignore you? How it riles when you'll find so many profile pieces on literary writers to box tick, many debut. No debut female romance novelists though. Nor seasoned ones. Rarer than unicorn turds.

(update from the week after... that line about a mention if I'd been a man writing something 'serious' - called it!)

And don't get me started on libraries - you know the places that some would have you believe aren't used any more. Well in the past year my books have been borrowed almost 220,000 times. That's just one romance author... And there are many more popular than me. Why is it so wrong to want to be entertained? No one looks down on Netflix (quite the opposite) - the sole purpose of which is to... entertain!

The Bookseller British Book Seller industry award 'The Nibbies' recently introduced a Crime category. No romance. Maybe as a concession they then introduced 'The Page Turner' award. Nice and vague which allows us to hope we might get on it, allows them to pick us. Guess how many female romantic authors appeared on the shortlist? Actually it's boring even as a game now so I'll tell you. Nil. 

Guess what, world, there is a massive appetite for our books! Especially Christmas books written to lift and entertain. And yet the newspapers filled their pages this week with the ‘best books to buy for presents’ and not a mention of any of ours. Do we not fit in Christmas stockings? Are our corners too spiky? Because, as a reader as well as a writer, I’d like to find a book written by one of my peers in my Christmas pile please, Santa. I want to hole up for a few days and immerse myself in a lovely feelgood well-written story that whisks me away while I’m drinking my Baileys. And judging by how fast our books are flying off the physical and virtual shelves at the moment, so do readers. Which leads me ask, who are those ‘lists of must-read books’ written for? Do people who read the ‘posh papers’ not also read popular fiction? Shouldn’t the press serve the readers who want to know about the books of our genre which are available to buy? Are they actually in touch with the people who read their pages? Are the authors of these books of less interest than those who write literary fiction? 

Diss the novels and you diss the readers who buy these books.  Who are they to decide what their readers might like, after all reading is so subjective. One of the Hairy Bikers reads everything I put out there; I'm his 'guilty pleasure' he tells me. Plus what message are we giving out to future writers? That if they choose to write books that people in their millions love that they’re not actually aiming very high? That’s one hell of a mixed message.


This industry can be ridiculously middle-class and prejudicial ... and cruel and short-sighted. Women writing Christmas fiction in the Sunday Times best seller list?  Move along please, nothing to see here, folks.  What sums it up is an observation of Phillipa’s, given that the Sunday Times narrative at the side of its lists this week prefers to celebrate ‘Greg the Sausage Roll’ and ‘The Shiit Workout – a parody fitness book telling you to tone up while on the loo’. Phillipa said, ‘Who knows, we might even be considered literary next to books about shit and a sausage roll’. Sadly no; that’s too much of a stretch, Pip… even in the world of fiction! 


And just in case you were interested... here are just some of the season's pick of books that you SHOULD be seeing featured more! Written by women at the top of their game, Sunday Times bestsellers, multi-million sales, intelligent, brilliant and thoroughly wonderful novelists at  with hearts as big as their talent. Click on the title to read more about them. Let yourself be seduced by a blurb. You won't fancy them all, but you'll definitely be drawn to some - and others will be drawn to others, because, as I said, we all like different books, but all books are liked by someone. I've found some authors just by chancing my arm, widening my reading comfort zone and you may find your new favourite below. So browse, buy see what else these fabulous creatures write ... and treat yourself or a loved one. Maybe both!

(in no particular order at all because they all should be first ..) 

A Special Cornish Christmas

by Phillipa Ashley

For Bo Grayson, Christmas has always been the most wonderful time of the year. Well, until she had her heart broken last December…

When Bo Grayson and her friends meet a mysterious fortune teller, she gives each woman the same prediction: You will meet the love of your life by Christmas Day.

But Bo quickly dismisses this as nonsense. And with the festive season in full swing, she has plenty to keep her busy: creating the seasonal menu for her Boatyard Café, getting her rock and roll dance group ready for their Christmas show – and avoiding thinking about last December, when her fortune took a turn for the worse…

Besides, she definitely isn’t ready to open her heart again. But will fate – and perhaps a sprinkle of Christmas magic – change her mind?

Jo Thomas

When their grandfather dies, Fliss and her sisters are astonished to inherit a French chateau! Travelling to Normandy to visit the beautiful if faded house, they excitedly make plans over delicious crepes and local cider in the town nearby.

They soon discover the chateau needs major work and a huge tax bill is due . . . Unable to sell but strapped for cash, Fliss determines to spruce up the elegant old rooms and open a B&B.

But Jacques, the handsome town mayor, is opposed to her plan. When it becomes clear that the only way to save the magnificent castle is to work together, Jacques and Fliss discover that they have more in common than they think...

Penny Parkes

Larkford Surgery is the heart of a tightknit community in the Cotswolds, as well as a hotbed of drama, rivalry, resentment and romance - and that's just the doctors …
Dr Holly Graham has just had twins and is finding life exhausting. Even with husband Dr Taffy Jones and devoted friend Elsie by her side, she is completely outnumbered. Making the transition back to work will be no easy feat but then an unexpected job offer changes everything.
Her maternity cover, Dr Tilly Grainger, has arrived in from South America to cover but it seems that she isn’t finding life in the peaceful Cotswolds valley as rewarding as she’d hoped, and she is causing chaos.
Then widower and former rock star Connor arrives in Larkford, ready for a new start. He’s not sure how he will fit in with his new tightknit community. Has he made a mistake leaving his old life behind, or will he find exactly what he’s looking for in the beauty of the Cotswolds?

Carole Matthews

Christmas is fast approaching at the new Hope Farm. Owner Molly Baker has been convinced to organise an open day to raise some much-needed funds ahead of the New Year, but the nativity tableau is proving challenging. With anti-social sheep, awkward alpacas and a seriously sequined Santa Claus to assemble, Molly is feeling overwhelmed, and in desperate need of some Christmas spirit . . .

Despite the chaos of the farm getting in the way of her event planning, Molly is looking forward to spending the holidays with boyfriend Shelby and his son, Lucas, hopeful that a happy family Christmas is exactly what they need to draw them all together. But while she is busy making plans on the farm, Shelby, it seems, has ideas of his own.

As the nativity draws near, the team are working hard to pull off a spectacular festive fete - and make sure the animals and humans remain on their best behaviour.

Will this Christmas be merry and bright... or is there more than one surprise in store for Molly and Hope Farm?

Cathy Bramley

Christmas has always meant something special to Merry - even without a family of her own. This year, her heart might be broken but her new candle business is booming. The last thing she needs is another project - but when her hometown's annual event needs some fresh festive inspiration, Merry can't resist.

Cole loves a project too - though it's usually of the bricks and mortar variety. As a single dad, his Christmas wish is to see his kids again, so getting the new house finished for when they're all together is the perfect distraction. 

But this Christmas, magic is in the air for these two strangers. Will it bring them all the joy they planned for . . . and take their hearts by surprise too? 

After all, anything can happen at Christmas. . . 

Trisha Ashley

Elderly widow Sabine knows this will be her last Christmas in her beloved home, Mitras Castle. Determined to make it just like the ones she remembers from her childhood, she employs Dido Jones of Heavenly Houseparties to help with the big day.

Dido is enchanted by the castle as soon as she steps through the imposing front door. And as Christmas day approaches, her feeling of connection to the old house runs deeper than she first thought.

But when the snow begins to fall and Sabine's family arrive at the house - including Dido's teenage crush Xan - tensions rise around the castle's future and long-buried mysteries begin to unravel...

As past secrets come to light, can this still be a magical Christmas to remember?

Alex Brown

Bridget smiled to herself, certain she could see one of the stars twinkling extra brightly in that moment as if to acknowledge her wish and convince her that, yes, Mulberry-On-Sea was just the place they all needed to be. Surrounded by those happy memories of holidays and special times where nothing bad ever happened… 

Finding yourself without a home in the weeks before Christmas would break most people, but for Bridget Carrington it’s a chance to start again. Mulberry-On-Sea has always been her happy place and she’s hoping it can work its magic this festive season and heal her family after a difficult year.

Now, as the community wraps Bridget and her children in its warm embrace, she starts to feel like herself again. With a new business, kids who are starting to smile, and the promise of a second chance at love, Bridget’s holiday season might just be a happy ever after…

By Heidi Swain

Wynter’s Trees is the home of Christmas. For the people of Wynmouth it’s where they get their family Christmas tree, and where Christmas truly comes to life.

But for Liza Wynter, it’s a millstone around her neck. It was her father’s pride and joy but now he’s gone, she can’t have anything to do with it. Until her father’s business partner decides to retire and she must go back to handle the transition to his son Ned.

When Liza arrives, she discovers a much-loved business that’s flourishing under Ned’s stewardship. And she’s happy to stay and help for the Christmas season, but then she has other plans. But will the place where she grew up make her change her mind? And can it weave its Christmas cheer around her heart…?

Jenny Colgan

Carmen has always worked in her local department store. So, when the gorgeous old building closes its doors for good, she is more than a little lost.

When her sister, Sofia, mentions an opportunity in Edinburgh - a cute little bookshop, the spare room in her house - Carmen is reluctant, she was never very good at accepting help. But, short on options, she soon finds herself pulling into the snowy city just a month before Christmas.

What Sofia didn't say is that the shop is on its last legs and that if Carmen can't help turn things around before Christmas, the owner will be forced to sell. Privately, Sofia is sure it will take more than a miracle to save the store, but maybe this Christmas, Carmen might surprise them all...

Debbie Johnson
(Made in a Hallmark film last year!) 

You’ve seen Mark Darcy in his reindeer jumper, now meet Marco Cavelli in this season’s Christmas knit!

For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it.

But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner.

Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.

Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper?

Starry Skies in Ferry Lane Market

Nicola May

When Star Bligh got pregnant at the age of sixteen, she thought her life was over. Now thirty-three, mother to Skye and owner of the successful jewellery stall in Ferry Lane Market in Hartmouth, Cornwall, she wouldn't change a thing about it.

Well, maybe one. A few months ago she fell hard for American visitor Jack, but then he left without even saying goodbye and ever since she has struggled to get him out of her head. Until the handsome, roguish Conor turns up and sweeps her off her feet. But then one day, Star is shocked to bump into Jack. He's back in Hartmouth to tell her why he left - but is she ready to listen? 

As things get more complicated with her love life, another revelation threatens to turn the lovely world she has built for her and Skye upside down. But could this be the one thing that will make it complete?

Christmas By the Coast

Mandy Baggot

After a terrible heartbreak, Harriet Cookson worked hard to build her life back up. Now she has a dependable boyfriend, a great job and a decent flatshare. But when her beloved grandmother passes away, Harriet drops everything to fly out to the Hamptons to comfort her grieving grandpa.

Christmas is coming and as she arrives on the sandy beaches of her childhood in Montauk, Long Island, Harriet spots someone she never expected to see again - her 'one that got away', ex-soldier Mack Wyatt. Now, Mack is determined to win Harriet back and show her that the life she's been living might be the wrong happily-ever-after.

Sarah Morgan

It was supposed to be Christy Sullivan’s perfect Christmas escape – a dream trip to Lapland with her family and best friend, Alix. But facing a make-or-break marriage crisis, Christy desperately needs time alone with her husband, Seb. Her solution? Alix, along with Seb’s oldest friend, Zac, can take Christy’s daughter on the planned Lapland trip, and they will all reunite there for Christmas Day. After all, what are friends for?

There’s nothing Alix won’t do for Christy, but Christy’s plan to save Christmas is testing their friendship. Especially as Alix and Zac have a difficult history of their own.

As long-held secrets unravel, and unexpected romance shines under the Northern Lights, can Christy and Alix find the courage to fight for the relationships they really want? And could this Christmas escape save the precious gift of each other’s friendship?

Under the Mistletoe

Sue Moorcroft

When Laurel returns to the village of Middledip, she’s looking for a quiet life. Adjusting to her recent divorce, she’s ready to spend some time getting back on her feet amidst the glorious snow-dusted countryside.

Yet, life in Middledip is far from straightforward. Coming to the aid of her sister, Rea, as she navigates her own troubles, Laurel barely has a moment to think about where her own life is going.

However, time stands still when she sees her old flame, Grady Cassidy – and it’s soon as if they’ve never been apart. But through her happiness, Laurel remembers why she left the village all those years ago, as she recalls a dark night and Grady’s once-wayward brother, Mac…

Can Laurel learn to forgive and forget? Or will her chances of Christmas under the mistletoe with Grady remain a dream?

Karen Swan

Award-winning director Clover Phillips is riding high when she encounters Kit Foley; a surfer and snowboarder as well-known for controversy as he is for winning championships.

Involved in an accident that had devastating consequences for a bitter rival, Kit has never spoken about what really happened that day. Determined to find out the truth, Clover heads to the snowy wilderness of the Austrian Alps, sharing a romantic winter wonderland with a man who can’t stand her.

But as she delves deeper, Clover finds herself both drawn to Kit, and even more convinced he’s hiding something. Is Kit Foley really as cold as he seems?

Sarah Bennett

Christmas is a time for love, laughter, families and friends, and in Mermaids Point, everyone is getting ready for the festive season.

For Nerissa and Tom, this will be their first Christmas as a couple, but making sure they have time for each other, whilst blending their families, will take some careful planning. What festive traditions will they make their own?

Laurie and Jake are flat out running Laurie’s seafront café, packaging up orders of mince pies, sausage rolls and other delectable Christmas goodies, as well as finding time for Jake’s journalism. But when Jake’s mum offers them an unexpected gift, their plans are turned upside down.

Alex can’t help but be charmed by beautiful and talented Ivy, but he’s still recovering from his ex-wife’s betrayal and has a secret life he’s not ready to share with anyone yet. But as the Christmas spirit starts weaving its magic, Alex may find himself ready for love sooner than he imagines.

For Andrew, nothing is more important than family. As friends and family gather beneath his roof it's a time for reflection about what the future might hold. 

As far as Nick is concerned, pop sensation Aurora Storm is the ‘one that got away’. After they shared a brief holiday fling, he has been thinking about her ever since. Is Christmas the perfect time to finally reach out to her, or is love at first sight just in fairy-tales?

Christmas Hope for the Steel Girls

Michelle Rawlins

Winter, 1939
As December draws nearer and with her family facing their first Christmas without Bert, Nancy is desperately trying to keep up her children’s spirits and her own.

Young Patty should be excited to be spending her first festive season with sweetheart Archie, but why does she worry he’s keeping something from her?

Betty is missing her beloved William as he continues his RAF training but she’s determined not to sit around wallowing. In the midst of the coldest winter on record and with the introduction of rationing, times are tougher than ever but Betty has an idea to make sure nobody goes without this winter.

And with our Steel Girls rallying around each other, can there still be hope this Christmas?

The second novel in the new heartwarming Steel Girls series following our feisty factory sister’s bravery and hope during wartime. 

From Shetland with Love at Christmas

Erin Green

Verity is embarking on a better-late-than-never gap year now that her sons have flown the nest, and dreams of turning a lifetime's hobby of knitting and crocheting into a profitable new enterprise at Lerwick Manor's gallery. 

Nessie has returned to Shetland after two years spent retraining as a blacksmith on the Scottish mainland. She's determined to do whatever it takes to reignite the traditional craft and prove that gender is no obstacle to taking on her family's heritage. 

Isla is fresh out of catering college, but she is desperate to prove she has what it takes to run Lerwick Manor's artisan café. Focused on perfecting her grandmother's traditional recipes, Isla has no time for anything else - especially not her pesky ex.

With the island's Yule Day celebration fast approaching, it's the ideal moment for their crafts to shine. But they can't do it alone - and their friendship might turn out to be their greatest creation yet...

Annette Hannah

For the first time she can remember, Poppy is dreading Christmas. Unceremoniously dumped by her boyfriend after moving across the country for him, there's nothing cheery about the festive season this year.

Dragged to a Christmas ball by best friend Layla, Poppy meets gorgeous actor Gabe, who stars as a genie in a play. When he asks her what three wishes she would make, she realises it's quite simple: love, a job she's happy in and, just once in her life, to do something extraordinary. 

Gabe and Poppy make a pact to help each other make their dreams come true. As they tick off their wishes, their friendship blossoms... But, as they discover, sometimes, what you want for Christmas isn't necessarily what you need...

Cressida McLaughlin

All Meredith Verren has ever wanted is to escape the holiday season without having to wear a Christmas jumper. Her new job at the cosy gift shop in a picturesque Cornish tourist spot is making it impossible for her to maintain her scrooge-like manner.

With their seasonal hampers on everyone’s wish list, Meredith must paste on a smile and fake some holiday cheer. Then she meets handsome new arrival, Finn, who wishes it could be Christmas every day and wants her to feel the same way too.

Can she embrace the holly and the ivy before the decorations are packed away for another year?

The Twelve Days of Christmas

Poppy Alexander

For the first time in ten years, Freya is back in the little village of Middlemass for Christmas. The streets might be twinkling with fairy lights, but after the recent loss of her mother, she's never felt less festive. 

Forced to sleep under the same roof as her handsome neighbour Finn, Freya realises she's going to need a distraction - fast! So she sets herself a challenge: to cook the '12 Days of Christmas'. Her delicious food soon brings the villagers together, and as each day passes, old friendships are renewed, memories stirred and there's even the flickering of romance... 

She was only meant to stay for the holidays, but could Middlemass - and Finn - steal her heart forever?

And last, but hopefully not least...

Milly Johnson

It’s nearly Christmas and it’s snowing, hard. Deep in the Yorkshire Moors nestles a tiny hamlet, with a pub at its heart. As the snow falls, the inn will become an unexpected haven for six people forced to seek shelter there…
Mary has been trying to get her boss Jack to notice her for four years, but he can only see the efficient PA she is at work. Will being holed up with him finally give her the chance she has been waiting for?
Bridge and Luke were meeting for five minutes to set their divorce in motion. But will getting trapped with each other reignite too many fond memories – and love?
Charlie and Robin were on their way to a luxury hotel in Scotland for a very special Christmas. But will the inn give them everything they were hoping to find – and much more besides?
A story of knowing when to hold on and when to let go, of pushing limits and acceptance, of friendship, love, laughter, mince pies and the magic of Christmas.