Christmas Celebrations 2022

I love Christmas. It’s taken me awhile to get into the Christmas spirit this year, but I am well and truly feelng Christmassy now. Christmas day is always overshadowed by the fact that I know it was.a tough day for me and my twin sister Natalie, as we both almost lost our fight for life as our hearts stopped. Thanks to skilled doctors and nurses for saving our lives at that point and we also had an emergency baptism so I know this would have been a doubly difficult time.

I do think of those who are importanrt to me and hope they think of me.

I feel sadness at every Christmas without my sister Natalie.

Christmas celebrations for us start on Christmas Eve, and we follow the Spanish custom of eating our Christmas meal then. We bought turkey and ate it with roast potatoes, carrots and brocolli and we had all this with gravy. We ate pannetone for dessert and I drank a herbal tea.

This year was disappointing in terms of Christmas movies on TV, but we found The Greatest Showman which we had not ever watched. We both thoroughly enjoyed the movie.

My favorite Christmas movies are The Holiday and Polar Express. I searched for those online and found them. also found the movie Twister and watched that.

My Christmas makeup look:

Cien Stay On Foundation in Medium

Maybelline Matte + Poreless Fit Me Powder in shade 120

Urban Decay Primer Potion in Original

Makeup Revolution Mono Eyeshadow in Mountains of Gold

W7 London Rose Mascara

L’Oreal Color Riche Gold Obsession Lipstick in shade CP36 – Nude Gold

We ate the same as yesterday today and we also drank wine and Irish Cream Liqueur. I listened to The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker again. I reviewed this book earlier in the year.

I like everything I was bought for Christmas back in November during a trip to Primark and also love my birthday gifts.

Thanks to everyone who has contacted me this Christmas, I really appreciate it. Happy Christmas to everyone who celebrates it. I hope everyone I sent an ecard to loved their cards.

Lovely Makeup Cinnamon Chocolate and Gingerbread Lip Scrub Cans

These come in two versions: Cinnamon Chocolate and Gingerbread.

Cinnamon Chocolate

The first one I tried was the Cinnamon Chocolate one. The packaging is a tin with a green and white design and a twist-off lid. The smell is authentic. The lip scrub grains are very small and soft but do a good job at gently exfoliating the lips. The formula contains shea butter and vitamin E some ingredients I know are great moisturisers.

My lips felt comfortable afterwards and not irriatated at all.


The gingerbread one smelled exactly the same as the gingerbread I bought last Christmas. It’s full of spices like cinnamon and cloves and is very gingery. This was an authentic gingerbread smell. It also reminds me of a mulled wine smell as it smells of the same spices. So it’s very festive and christmassy.

I have the same to say about this product because it is exactly the same as the chocolate cinnamon one in terms of texture and consistency. It’s just as moisturising and does not irritate my lips at all. I did feel that, in terms of the smell, I preferred the Chocolate Cinnamon one as it was slightly less strong.

The good thing about these is that they don’t leave an aftertaste in spite of the fragrance like some other lip products would. Some people say they have a touch of glitter, but that’s impossible for me to percieve with my eyesight. The good thing is that the glitter is not chunky or scratchy like in some products, and blends into the formula so well I didn’t notice it. This makes the products even more comfortable and a pleasure to use.

Each scrub cost 2.50€ when I bought them, although the price went down to 1.99€ now and then. The usual price is 3.99€.

I think the price I paid is good, and I think they will go a long way given the consistency of the product and the fact you don’t need to use a lot of it.

Although I bought this for myself, I think they make great Christmas gifts or stocking fillers.

The good thing is that each tin comes with a safety seal and the tins are decorative in their own right and can be used for other products (like maybe a lip gloss or the remainder of a lipstick, or even a face cream). when the scrub is finished.

I’ll be keeping my tins because part of the appeal of the products is the packaging, which is good quality in itself. I can’t resist cute packaging.

I think the scrub and the packaging compliment each other well, and a lot of thought has gone into these lip scrubs.

If you’re looking for a great qualiry lip scrub for a good price, get these.

I’ve tried other lip scrubs like The Body Shops’s Lip Scuff or Barry M’s Apple Lip Scrub and I much prefer these over those. They are cheaper (half the price of the Barry M scrub and I could get three of the Lovely Makeup Lip Scrub cans for less than the price of one Body Shop Lip Scuff). The best thing is, with thedse lip scrub cans, you don’t lose or waste product on application like you do with the Lip Scuff or the Barry M scrub.

If you’re curious about how the cost of Barry M Lip Scrub compares to the Lovely Makeup Lip Scrub Cans, the Barry M scrub costs £5 and the Body Shop Lip Scuff (which was once my favourite, go-to scrub) costs £8.

I’d gladly swap those two products for the Lovely Makeup Lip Scrub cans, and I’m glad I have.

Clara’s Christmas Magic by Rosie Green @Rosie_Green88 @rararesources

Clara’s Christmas Magic

The festive season is fast approaching but with the challenges facing Clara, it looks like being anything but the most wonderful time of the year. Can she somehow find the strength to meet those challenges head-on and find her way to the perfect, happy-ever-after Christmas?

About the Author:

Rosie’s series of novellas is centred around life in a country village cafe. ‘Clara’s Christmas Magic’ is Book 3 in a trilogy about Clara. It would make for the best reading experience if you caught up with the others first: Book 1, ‘Clara’s Secret Garden’ and Book 2 in the trio, ‘A Winter Wish’.

Contact Rosie: 

My Review:

enjoyed Clara’s story and was eager to find out how it ended. I was really hoping she’d find her aunt Frida and excited to have Christmas in New York through the atmosphere in this book.

I’m wondering what’s next for Clara, Frida and all the characters in the Little Duck Pond Café series. So far, I’ve only reviewed Clara’s sub-trilogy of books, so I need to get the others in the series and have a lot of catching up to do.I liked Clara and Rory as characters and was interested in their backstories.

Thanks so Rosie Green, the publisher and Rachel’s Random Resources for my eARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

4 stars.

Where to Buy:

The Christmas Trip by Sandy Barker @sandybarker @0nemorechapter_ @rararesources

About the Book:

Another year has passed and it’s Christmas again. This year best friends Chloe, Jules and Lucy are all loved up but living worlds apart.

Chloe is madly in love with her celebrity beau, Archer, but after a whirlwind year in Hollywood’s limelight, she’s desperate to get away and spend some quality time together.

Jules loves her Melbourne life – and gorgeous winemaker Matt – but a crowded flat share has her longing for a place of her own.

Meantime, Lucy is stuck in a long distance relationship, jetting back and forth between Colorado and London to see Will.

When Archer’s plan to whisk Chloe to Paris goes awry, he surprises her by bringing her friends together for a Christmas to remember…

Where to Buy:

Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon CA | Amazon US

KoboiBooks | Nook | Google Play

About the Author:

Sandy is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, a film buff, a wine lover and a coffee snob. 

Sandy lives in Melbourne Australia with her partner, Ben, who she met while travelling in Greece. Their real-life love story inspired Sandy’s debut novel One Summer in Santorini, the first in the Holiday Romance series with One More Chapter, an imprint of HarperCollins. 

The series continues in That Night in Paris and A Sunset in Sydney and there are two more to come in 2022. Her standalone novel The Christmas Swap celebrates her favourite time of the year, and next up is The Dating Game, a laugh-out-loud romcom set in the world of Reality TV.

Contact Sandy:

My Review:

I really enjoyed Sandy Barker’s previous book in this series, The Chrostmas Swap, and The Christmas Trip was a welcome reunion for me with the characcters I knew from the Christmas Swap. It was great to catch up with them. More life, love and Christmastime events. I love the way that each of the characters is from a different country and how they come together again. The detailled backstory was helpful in remembering events that happened and linking the first book to the second.

A fun, realistic and relaxing winter novel. The sweet treats are a bonus.

Thanks to Sandy Barker, One More Chapter and Rachel’s Random Resources for my eARC for exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

Mistletoe and Magic for the Cornish Midwife by Jo Bartlett @J-B-Writer @bookandtonic @rararesources

About the Book:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

But for single mum and busy midwife Nadia, it’s quickly turning into her worst Christmas ever.

Her marriage is over, and whilst her husband has moved on, Nadia finds herself back home, squashed into her mum’s spare room with her two small children. They might not be a perfect family anymore, but Nadia is determined to make this Christmas special for them.

Dr Hamish Spencer totally understands Nadia’s pain. As a fellow single parent, he’s struggling to cope with a rebellious teen daughter and a precocious six-year-old! Perhaps if he and Nadia join forces, they could make this Christmas slightly more memorable for everyone?

The last thing Nadia wants is a new man in her life, but she’d definitely like lovely Hamish as a friend. But Christmas has a way of melting the hardest of hearts and maybe a kiss under the mistletoe could change everything?

About the Author:

Jo Bartlett is the bestselling author of over nineteen women’s fiction titles. She fits her writing in between her two day jobs as an educational consultant and university lecturer and lives with her family and three dogs on the Kent coast. Her first title for Boldwood is The Cornish Midwife – part of a twelve-book deal.

Contact Jo:  




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Bookbub profile: 

My Review:

This is the first time i’ve been on a blog tour for a title in this series and I have two other books from it. 

I like Cornwall and have been many times. The characters and setting are realistic and I want more after this book, so I’m glad there are other books in the series. 

Thanks to Jo Bartlett, Rachel’s Random Resources and Boldwood Books for my eARC in exchange for my honest and voluntary review. 

4 stars

Where to Buy:

A Match Made at Christmas by Patricia Davids PatriciaDavidsAuthor @HTTP_Books

Author: Patricia Davids
ISBN: 9781335453471
Publication Date: October 4, 2022
Publisher: HQN

About the Book:

USA Today bestselling author Patricia Davids continues her Amish romance series set in Harts, Haven, Kansas, with this emotional story about a cancer survivor and a grieving widower who are brought together at Christmas by the matchmakers of Harts Haven who have a little help from the hero’s daughters.
With Christmas just around the corner, an Amish cancer survivor moves to Harts Haven for a fresh start as the new schoolteacher. She wants to escape the pity that she felt from the people back hom eand throw herself into her new job. She’s worried her illness might return at any moment and isn’t looking for love. Neither is a local widower with two daughters. The loss of his wife devestated him, and he never wants to feel that kind of pain again. The matchmakers of Harts Haven set their sights on the pair, by having them work together on a living Nativity for the school Christmas program. With three elderly matchmakers, a school full of rambunctious children, a handsome widower, rowdy sheep and one cantankerous donkey, Harts Haven is about to witness an unforgettable Christmas Eve where two unlikely people discover healing love is the true Christmas gift.

Contact Patricia:

Author Website:
Twitter: n/a
Instagram: n/a

Where to Buy:



Barnes & Noble:





“Oh, Karl. Yoo-hoo!”

Karl Graber cringed at the sound of Rose Yoder calling his name. He was in no mood to deal with her this morning.

After burning the oatmeal at breakfast, he discovered his renter had moved out in the night without giving notice or paying his back rent. Now Karl was going to be late getting to the store because his buggy horse was limping.

He pretended he hadn’t heard Rose. Maybe the elderly Amish woman who claimed to be the most successful matchmaker in Harts Haven would go pester some other poor fellow.

Bent over Checker’s front foot, Karl noticed that a stone lodged between the horse’s steel shoe and his hoof was the gelding’s problem.

“Hallo, Karl! I must speak with you.”

The tenacity of the eighty-four-year-old romance peddler was another difficulty Karl had to face this morning.

“I’m not interested in meeting your latest hopeful,” he muttered under his breath.

If the stubborn stone would come out, he could be on his way before the elderly woman reached the end of the block and crossed the wide street.

“Daed, Granny Rose is calling you.” His six-year-old daughter, Rachel, stood up and waved. Rose wasn’t related to Karl, but due to her advanced age most of the children in Harts Haven called her Granny.

“She’s coming this way,” Clara informed him from the front seat of the open buggy. His ten-year-old daughter wasn’t any more excited to see Rose than Karl was. She suspected the same thing he did. Rose was on a matchmaking mission.

“Hallo, Granny Rose,” Rachel shouted happily. “We’re taking our puppies to the store so someone can buy them. Would you like to see them?”

The offending stone popped loose. Karl dropped Checker’s hoof. “Got to get the store open, Rose. Can’t take time to visit.”

When he spun around, it was already too late. She had reached the buggy ahead of him. How did someone her age move so fast? She didn’t even look winded.

“Guder mariye, Karl. I’m so glad I caught you. There is a chill in the air this morning, isn’t there?”

It was the second week of November. Of course the air was cool. Rose hadn’t intercepted him for idle chitchat. He moved to step around her since she was blocking the buggy door. “Customers will be waiting for me.”

Rose didn’t budge. Other than picking her up and setting her aside, he had no hope of leaving until she finished having her say. He resigned himself to hearing who she thought would be perfect for him this time. As if any woman could take the place of his Nora.

“Did you find us a new mother?” Rachel’s hopeful tone stabbed his heart. Rachel was too young to remember much about the mother who died when she was three. She only knew other children had both mothers and fathers, and she wanted the same thing.

Clara scowled at her sister. “We don’t need a new mother. Ours is in Heaven. No one can replace her.”

Clara understood. She was old enough to remember what Nora had been like. A sweet, gentle, bright and loving woman. The world was a darker place without her.

Rose’s cheerful expression softened with sympathy. “I’m still looking for someone special to join your family. Clara is right. She won’t be your mother. Instead, she will be your stepmother, but she will love you and take care of you as if you were her own.”

Rachel sighed. “I hope you find her soon.”

“That’s enough, Rachel,” Karl said. “What do you want, Rose?”

“I’m here to tell you about the new teacher. She arrived yesterday. She and her sister are staying at the inn for the time being. They are Grace Sutter’s nieces from the Amish side of her family.”

Grace was another elderly widow, Old Order Mennonite, and co-owner of the Harts Haven Inn along with Rose and Rose’s widowed daughter, Susanna King. The trio were all fond of meddling. A single man stood little chance of remaining unattached in this Amish community unless he avoided the widows. Rose’s knowing smile put Karl on his guard.

Rachel clapped her hands. “Yay, the new teacher is here. Now I can go back to school and be in the Christmas program. I hope I get to be an angel like Thea and Miriam Bachman last year. Their mother made the most beautiful wings for them.”

Rose grinned. “Your teacher’s name is Sophie Eicher. Her sister is Joanna. They are lovely young women.”

“Also single and hoping to find husbands in Harts Haven. I know what you’re doing, Rose. Not interested!” If his cutting tone didn’t drive his point home, maybe his scowl would.

Rose puffed up like an angry little hen. “Don’t take that tone with me, Karl Graber. For shame.”

He was thirty-two years old, but she made him feel like an errant toddler. “I’m sorry.”

She inclined her head. “You are forgiven. I stopped to tell you we are hosting a welcome party at the inn on Saturday so folks can meet Sophie and her sister. Would you kindly spread the word?”

He eyed her suspiciously. Where was the catch? “Sure. What time?”

“We’ll start at noon, but folks can come and go as they please.” She turned to his daughters. “I know you girls must be excited to go back to school.”

“Teacher Becky had to leave to take care of her mother because she got sick,” Rachel said. “I only went to school for one week. I don’t think I learned much.”

“I taught you letters and numbers,” Karl said.

Rachel’s lower lip jutted out. “Only so I could help at the store. Not to read a book.”

There weren’t enough hours in the day to run the hardware store, manage the farm work, cook, keep house and still find time to instruct his daughters. Most days, he struggled just to get out of bed. He was doing the best he could.

“How soon will school resume?” he asked Rose.

“The bishop and the school board haven’t decided.” She leveled her gaze at him. “I know you’ll be at the welcome party.”

That was the catch. Grimacing, he shook his head. “Social gatherings aren’t something I enjoy.”

Her eyes narrowed. “It is common courtesy to introduce yourself and your kinder to the new teacher. You remember what courtesy is, don’t you, Karl?” Rose turned on her heels and strode away.

His conscience smote him. It wasn’t right to be rude to anyone, yet alone an elder. He caught up with her in a few steps. “Rose, wait. I’m sorry.”

Glancing over his shoulder to make sure the girls couldn’t overhear; he lowered his voice. “It hasn’t been easy for me. Nora was the one who loved company. It doesn’t feel right to do things without her. It just makes me miss her more.”

Instantly, he was sorry he had shared that much.

Rose’s expression softened. “You have your daughters to consider. Nora wouldn’t want them shut up in the store all day. Nor would she approve of you taking them home straight after church services instead of letting them play with their friends so you can avoid talking to people. I understand grief, Karl. I buried my husband and a son-in-law who was dear to me. We all cope with loss differently, but don’t let your grief rob your kinder of their childhood.”

He focused on his feet. Maybe Rose was right. In his struggle to get through each day, he hadn’t always put his children’s welfare first. “I reckon I could close early for once. I’ll bring the girls to meet their new teacher.”

He looked up with a hard stare. “But don’t get the idea that I’ll go along with any of your matchmaking schemes.”

She shook her head. “Sophie needs someone special. You are completely wrong for her. I’m afraid the two of you would be at each other’s throats within a week.”

He drew back. “If she’s hard to get along with, should she be teaching?”

Rose poked her finger into his chest. “You are the problem, not Sophie.”

“Me? What’s wrong with me?”

“Plenty. You figure it out. Relax. You aren’t on my list of potential suitors.”

That made him smile. “You have a list already? I thought she only arrived yesterday.”

Rose grinned and winked. “There aren’t that many single Amish fellows in this area.”

Karl watched her walk away with a sense of relief that was quickly followed by an unsettling question. What did Rose think was wrong with him?

He kept to himself, but who could blame him? Losing his wife, his childhood sweetheart, had nearly broken him. Standing by helplessly as cancer sucked the life from her despite everything the doctors tried had devastated him.

His beautiful Nora had endured terrible pain. In her last days, he had stopped praying for her to be healed and only asked that God end her suffering and take her home. The guilt from those anguished thoughts never left him. He couldn’t love another woman. He was better off alone. He had his daughters. That was enough.

“Daed, we’re going to be late,” Clara called out.

Clara was trying hard to be his helper at home and in the business the way her mother had been. She worked hard. Perhaps too hard for a child her age. He returned to the buggy and got in. At least he didn’t have to worry about Rose trying to set him up with the new teacher. He wasn’t on her list.

Excerpted from A Match Made at Christmas by Patricia Davids. Copyright © 2022 by Patricia Davids. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Harlequin Trade Publishing Holiday Blog Tour: All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

Author: RaeAnne Thayne
ISBN: 9781335933997
Publication Date: September 20, 2022
Publisher: HQN

About the Book:

Return to Hope’s Crossing this Christmas in New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s latest heartwarming story of matchmaking at the holidays!
Sage McKnight is an ambitious young architect working at her father’s firm who takes on her most challenging client in Mason Tucker. The former pro baseball player is still healing from the physical and emotional scars after a plane crash left him a wheelchair-using single dad, and he’s determined not to let anyone breach his emotional defenses. Sage knows her work on Mason’s new home in Hope’s Crossing is her best work yet, and she won’t let her grumpy client prevent her from showcasing her work personally.

With Sage’s gift for taking broken things and making them better, the matchmaking talent of the quirky locals and a generous sprinkling of Christmas cheer, Mason doesn’t stand a chance against the power of this magical holiday season.

Contact ReaAnne:

Q&A with ReaAnne Thayne:

Who was your favorite character in the book and why?

It’s so hard to narrow this down because I truly felt like I was revisiting old friends while writing this book. I wrote seven original books in my Hope’s Crossing series and came to love the town and the people there. It was so much fun to go back and catch up with them all, nearly 10 years later. I especially loved writing a “second generation” book about some of the characters who were teenagers or young adults in the original series and now are at a better stage in their lives for happily-ever-after.

What is the most difficult thing about writing a book?

Whenever I start a book, I have all these ideas about where I’m going to take the characters and the plot. As I start writing, each choice I make for the characters (hair color, occupation, backstory, etc) rules out other possibilities for them. All that decision-making is exhausting! I know many writer friends who have a hard time making decisions in their personal lives and I truly think it’s because we spend all day making hundred of choices in our books about who are characters are, what they think, say, do, etc.

It’s wonderful to see a book featuring a character in a wheelchair. Did you have to research spinal injury for your portrayal of Mason? Do you have any advice for writers who want to create a realistic portrayal of someone with disabilities they have not themselves experienced?

Yes! I did extensive research about spinal cord injury, watching panel discussions on line among people with SCIs, complete and incomplete, about their lives, challenges and joys. The best advice I have for writers who want to include people with disabilities is fairly obvious. Talk to someone with that kind of disability to find out what their lives are truly like. I have a son who uses a wheelchair so I have extensive experience when it comes to accessibility issues and inclusive design challenges we have faced with him (and also how we have tried to make his world as inclusive as possible). I have spent 25 years as his mom learning about how the world isn’t always designed for people who have different mobility needs. Even after all that time as a caregiver and advocate, I don’t have the same perspective as the actual person who uses a chair.

Do you have any advice for writers wanting to write in this genre? How do you create enough emotion and excitement to keep people hooked throughout the book?

It really comes down to trying hard to create layered, nuanced characters and working to portray their fears, dreams and challenges with authenticity. I always start with my characters first, figuring out who they are and what they need to learn through the course of the book. The plot then builds around the characters.

Do you decorate your writing room when you are writing a holiday book?

I do! I always put up a Christmas tree in my office and keep it up until the book is done (which is sometimes March!). I also like to light holiday-scented candles when I’m working, to set the mood, and often listen to Christmas music, or at least holiday-themed Lo-Fi concentration music.

Is it difficult to come up with a specific Holiday themed novel every year? No, because I love everything about the holidays! Starting a holiday book always makes me happy. No matter what holiday people celebrate, the time from November to January can be a time of family and chaos and joy, all the things I love to write about!

What is the best gift you’ve ever received?

After the birth of our son with special needs, I was trying to write full time while juggling many doctor appointments and hospital stays. We were really struggling financial because I quit my full-time job after we had him and at that time my writing income wasn’t anywhere near what I had been making. I was totally shocked on Christmas morning to open a gift containing a laptop I knew we absolutely couldn’t afford. Turns out my sweet husband cashed out his vacation days for the next year in order to surprise me with a used laptop so I could still write while on the go with our son. It remains one of my priceless possessions. Though it’s now 30 year old technology, I’ll never part with it.

What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

I love giving people experiences. My husband is a photographer and one year I surprised him by chartering a snow coach for him in Yellowstone. He spent an unforgettable day in the middle of a snowstorm taking pictures of elk and bison in the park. He took our son and a friend and they had an amazing time.

What’s next for you?

I’ve just started my 2023 Christmas book! I’m having so much fun getting into the holiday spirit again.

My Review:

When I found the book details through Harlequin Publishing’s Christmas blog tour offerings, I jumped at the chance to review All is Bright. RaeAnne Thayne is a favourite author of mine. 

In this novel, she has created a believable story and the characters are realistic. On the one hand we have determined, giving ,sensitive and helpful Sage and on the other hand we have grumpy Mason.

The setting is amazing. I would love to have Mason’s huse with all the adaptations that has been made to it. If I lived in that house I would be over the moon with Sage’s help right from the start.

I didn’t like Mason very much and thought that he was a difficult person to be with. I admired Sage’s enthusiasm for the project. 

As a person with disabilities since birth and a wheelchair user, I think the author portrayed the reality of that well in terms of access needs and adaptations.

I don’t have a spinal injury like Mason, but I empathized with his difficulties getting the house to fit his needs. I kept wondering how much all the adaptations would cost. The descriptions of everything in the book are very visual, And this is something else I value about the author’s writing style.

Thanks to RaeAnne Thayne and Harlequin trade publishing for my eARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

This book is a five star novel because of how much I liked the adaptations to Mason’s house, and the attention to detail throughout.

I love this book, and recommend it to everyone whether they have a disability or not.I think it goes a long way towards raising awareness of living with a sudden spinal injury and the housing needs of people with disabilities.

I congratulate RaeAnne thayne as there aren’t enough books with characters with disabilities in them. The Christmas theme is a bonus in this book, but that is very atmospheric. 

The book is a winner for me.

Where to Buy:

Barnes & Noble:


“We’re now walking into the home theater,” she spoke to her outstretched camera, “one of the more challenging rooms of the renovation. Prior to this update, the room had a series of steps leading to the different levels of recliners. Obviously, that would no longer work for the homeowner, so we chose to remove the steps completely, instead building a gradual slope with room to maneuver around each level of seating. Beyond featuring state-of-the-art electronics that will be easily upgradeable, everything in here—from the blackout window shades to the sound system to the recliners themselves—can be controlled through a single smart home phone app.”
She turned the camera to face her. “Doesn’t this look like a wonderfully cozy place to watch a movie or catch your favorite sporting event?”
She smiled into the phone camera, then moved back into the wide hallway leading to the library/office, her own favorite spot in the house.
“You can see here we have sliding pocket doors that open and close with the push of a button. We chose to replace the traditional doors in many of the spaces with these pocket doors, which gives more room for the homeowner to navigate, and we also…”
Her words trailed off as she heard a sound behind her and turned to see a large, dark-haired man using a wheelchair, framed in the doorway.
He frowned, an expression she had become all too used to seeing there, during their few in-person interactions and their more frequent video conferences.
“What are you doing?” he demanded. “You’re not filming this, are you?”
Sage dropped her phone with an inward wince and stopped recording. Technically, this was still her job site, which meant she had full permission to check on the progress of the work until they handed the finished home over to the owner, who happened to be this man, former professional baseball player Mason Tucker.
With effort, she forced herself not to show any of her dismay. Out of all the clients she had worked with during her career thus far, Mason Tucker was the only one who made her palms sweat and her stomach feel knotted with stress.
“Mr. Tucker. Um, hi.” She forced a smile, feeling awkward as hell and wishing she had waited until the contractor would be here to take a tour.
“I haven’t been here in weeks and wanted to document the progress that has been made since I visited last. I didn’t see any vehicles outside and assumed everybody was gone for the day.”
“I’m parked in the garage of the guesthouse.”
“I didn’t even know you were in town. Have you been here long?”
The last she knew, Mason had been living in Portland, where he had once played for the same baseball team as another town resident, Spencer Gregory, who was married to Sage’s friend Charlotte. Sage knew Spence and Mason had remained friends, despite life circumstances that had led to both of them retiring.
For a moment, she wasn’t sure Mason would reply, then he finally shrugged. “I wanted to be close as we started to wrap things up so I can keep an eye on things and be on hand if there are any questions or problems. My daughter and I moved into the guesthouse a month ago.”
Why hadn’t her dad or Sam Delgado told her Mason was already living in Hope’s Crossing?
Beyond that, she suddenly thought, how in the world was he making the guesthouse work? That place wasn’t at all wheelchair accessible, with three steps leading into the place, narrow hallways and no accessible bathroom like those she had designed for this main house.
Renovating the guesthouse was part of the master plan but not until all the work was finished on Wolf Ridge itself.
“That place is a mess. How are you getting around?”
“I’m managing,” he said, his voice curt. “I can still get around on crutches, as long as I don’t have to go far.”
“You shouldn’t have to go far, from one end of the guesthouse to the other. It’s tiny.” She imagined a man Mason’s size would make the space shrink to almost nothing.
“It works fine for me and Grace. It’s only a few more weeks anyway, right?”
“I suppose.”
Sam Delgado had assured her when they spoke earlier that the renovations to Wolf Ridge would be finished shortly before Christmas.
Sage had to admit, she wouldn’t be sorry to put the job behind her.
While she was thrilled with the way her designs had transformed the mountain estate, working with Mason Tucker himself was another story.
She tried to be compassionate. Whenever she grew frustrated with him, she would remind herself that Mason had endured the sort of tragedy that would have completely destroyed someone without his resilience. While she was only charged with renovating this house, Mason had to completely rebuild his life.
He had every right to be surly and uncooperative.
While she might know that intellectually, it was difficult to remember when she was dealing with yet another last-minute change order.
Still, he had superb taste and basically unlimited financial resources. In a few more weeks, when the job was finished, Wolf Ridge would meet his needs now and long into the future.
The home now featured a new indoor pool, spa and high-tech exercise room on the bottom level, two new elevators at either end of the house and heated floors throughout. Wolf Ridge also featured a kitchen that worked for people of any mobility level and wheelchair accessible bathrooms on each level, including the extensive owner’s suite on the second floor.
Sage loved everything about this house, from the skylights to the beams her dad had mentioned to the wider doorways and hallways. It was warm, luxurious, comfortable.
She wanted to show off her work to the world. The only trick would be convincing the intensely private Mason Tucker.
Faced with his glower now, Sage felt as if she faced a Herculean task.
She had to try, though, didn’t she?
Her fledgling internet show had exploded in popularity over the past year, allowing her foundation and personal pet project to help far more deserving people than she had ever envisioned.
Sage could only imagine the vast number of views—and thus ad revenue—a video featuring Wolf Ridge would bring in. People would love a glimpse inside the house redesigned for the reclusive and private Mason Tucker.
The public still clamored to know everything it could about the former professional athlete who had endured so much physical and emotional pain.
If she could showcase Wolf Ridge on the Homes for All internet channel, she would also bring awareness to some of the issues and obstacles noninclusive design presented to those with mobility challenges.
She drew in a breath, not sure where to start. Yes, he would likely slap her down but she wouldn’t know unless she asked, right?
“The progress while I’ve been overseas is amazing. I can’t believe how different everything looks, with the finish work and the new flooring.”
“Sam and his subs have put in some long hours.”
“It shows. And Jean-Paul tells me he’s going to have nearly all the furnishings ready to go in a few more weeks, except for a few custom pieces.”
“That’s what he tells me.”
“I can’t see any reason you and Grace can’t move in before Christmas. How exciting!”
A shrug was his only response, which she supposed was about as eloquent as Mason Tucker could be.
She stuck her hands into the pockets of her wool coat.
He was going to say no. She knew it and braced herself for it.
“There’s no easy way for me to ask you this so I’m going to come straight out with it.” She drew in a breath. “For the past year, I’ve hosted a YouTube channel, Homes for All, which features projects with the kind of innovative universal design elements we have tried to incorporate here at Wolf Ridge.”
He raised an eyebrow but said nothing.
“While it’s called Homes for All, we feature commercial as well as residential projects. I hope to continue raising awareness of how limiting and even discriminatory some design practices can be for those who are, er, differently abled.”
He again said nothing, only continued to look at her out of those hard blue eyes that concealed his emotions completely.
“I have poured so much energy into Wolf Ridge, and I’m absolutely thrilled with the way the house has turned out. It’s everything I dreamed and more. I feel like more people should see it. Don’t you? I would absolutely love to feature your home on my channel.”
She held her breath, hands curled inside her pockets.
As she might have predicted, he didn’t leave her waiting long for his answer.
“Hell no,” he said with blunt finality, then turned away and started to roll back down the hall so abruptly she could only stare at him.
After a moment, she pursued him. This was too important to give up at the first obstacle. “Just like that? You don’t even want to hear the details?”
He paused and maneuvered to face her. “Why waste both our time? I don’t need to hear the details. Whatever you have to say doesn’t matter. My answer will remain a hard no.”
The man was impossible. Her grandfather Harry might have called him pigheaded, but Sage preferred the more diplomatic obstinate.
And yes, how could she blame him for that? Mason was trying to rebuild a life for himself and his daughter in Hope’s Crossing, away from the prying eyes of the tabloid press. She already knew he was an intensely private man. He had made her sign a nondisclosure agreement before even talking to her about what he wanted done at the house.
She might have been more surprised if he had agreed to let her feature his house on her channel.
Still, she had never been good at taking no for an answer. She could be every bit as pigheaded as Mason Tucker. She figured she had inherited that from Harry Lange himself.
“What I love most about your home is how seamlessly we have managed to integrate the new design into the existing structure without altering the basic style and grace of the home,” she said. “I’m sure you can agree that the changes will benefit everyone who lives here, not only you.”
“Sure,” he said after a moment. “You definitely know what you’re doing. The house is exactly what I wanted. That still doesn’t mean I want the whole world peering in at the transfer bars in the shower or the damn lift I need to use so I can get in and out of my spa.”
Sage was so caught up in the first part of what he said, the unexpected praise coming from her difficult client, that she almost missed the second part.
“That’s exactly what I try to showcase on my channel. When done right, universal design can blend with the overall style of a home or commercial property, small and sometimes barely noticeable changes but enough to make a huge difference to those who need them.”
“No,” he said again. “Judging by how seldom you’re here, you must have other projects. You can focus on those.”
“I have. You can watch the videos online. We have about thirty of them up now. But Wolf Ridge is the most ambitious residential renovation I’ve ever undertaken. Most people would never have poured the kind of resources you have into making such extensive changes to an existing structure. They would have sold the house as is and built a custom home somewhere else. Because of the location and the basic sound structure of the house, you chose to renovate instead. The results are beautiful, and I want the whole world to see it.”
“And I don’t,” he said bluntly. “I don’t need to give the whole damn world any more reasons to pity me.”
A muscle clenched along his jaw, and Sage felt immediately ashamed of herself for her selfishness at wanting to showcase her best work here.
Her motives weren’t completely selfish, she amended. Yes, she was proud of her work on Wolf Ridge. This project, more than any other she had been part of, might help her begin to emerge from her father’s huge and well-earned shadow.
It wasn’t easy being Jackson Lange’s daughter and trying to find her own way in the same field as one of the world’s most brilliant architectural minds.
That was the very reason she hadn’t taken Jack’s surname, even after they reconnected. She still went by Sage McKnight, the name she’d always had. She didn’t want to be known first as Jackson Lange’s daughter, with the weight of all those expectations on her. She wanted to succeed on her own.
Beyond that, she was doing good work with Homes for All. She knew she was making a difference in people’s lives, not only by changing minds about universal design but by changing lives.
Should she tell Jackson Lange that Homes for All was also the name of her foundation, funded by the ad revenue her videos generated online? The purpose was to help people who couldn’t otherwise afford to make necessary changes to their living spaces when age or health issues impacted mobility.
No. She didn’t want to guilt him into letting her invade his privacy by showcasing Wolf Ridge.
“Will you at least think about it?” she finally said. “You don’t have to decide anything right this moment.”
He shrugged. “I can think about it from now until Christmas. I won’t change my mind. My house, my decision. You can take all the pictures and video you want for your own personal use but if you post them online, I’ll sue your ass for breaking our nondisclosure agreement.”
He wheeled away without another word, leaving Sage to gaze after him with helpless frustration.
She hadn’t really expected any other answer, but she had hoped.
Her watch alarm dinged, and she glanced down at the reminder she had set. She was supposed to be at her mother’s bookstore and coffeehouse, Books & Brew, in ten minutes.
She quickly shot a few more images then walked back out into the December twilight.

Excerpted from All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne. Copyright © 2022 by RaeAnne Thayne. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Christmas 2021

Happy Christmas to those of you who celebrate it!

Our stocking this year had some wool socks, warm hats and fingerless gloves as well as different chocolate.

We ate turkey with herby roast potatoes and vegetables. Dessert was turrón (Spanish nougat). We had some wine and Irish Cream liqueur. If you like Bailey’s, this is just like the original.

I admit, it took me awhile to get christmassy this year since December has been a busy month for us, what with personal things and some blog posts .

My Christmas Eve makeup:

Too Faced Gingerbread eyeshadow palette. This palette smells like gingerbread.

The shades I used were Frostbite me!, a nude cream shade

Bake it til you Make It, a brown-orange

Gingerbread Latte, a light brown

Reindeer Paws, a dark brown.

PS Nudes Collection Metallic Lip Gloss and Lip Liner in the shade Spellbound, a metallic copper.

Maybelline Fit Me! Matte + Poreless Pressed Powder in shade 120

Revolution Beauty Unicorns Heart Highlighter

Cien (Lidl) Volume Mascara in Black, a great dupe for Maybelline’s The Colossal Mascara.

Technic Magic Mist Setting Spray in 24K Gold

Primark PS gold Glitter Spray for Hair and Body

We watched The Good Dinosaur and The Others.

After waking up late, we watched Last Christmas and The Cobbler.

Breakfast was chocolate Panettone and hot chocolate, one of our favourite Peruvian Christmas treats. We ate the same as yesterday for lunch.

My Christmas Day makeup:

I Heart Makeup Golden Bar Eyeshadow Palette shades in Ribbon, Golden and Foil. Chocolatier used as a highlighter.

Makeup Revolution Blushing Heart Blush in Peachy Pink Kisses

Liquid lipstick from The Cranberry Edit Collection by PS (Primark).

Kiko Wet and Dry Powder Foundation in shade Cool Rose 20 (CR20)

Cien (Lidl) Volume Mascara in Black.

Technic Magic Mist Setting Spray in 24K Gold

Primark PS gold Glitter Spray for Hair and Body

Wishing you the best day possible and I hope 2022 is better than this year. What are you doing this Christmas?

Snowflakes over the Starfish Café by Jessica Redland

About the Book:

Welcome to The Starfish Café – where you will find stunning views, delicious food and lifelong friendships.

Two broken hearts.

Since she inherited The Starfish Café, Hollie has poured her heart into the business, striving to keep her mother’s traditions and warm-hearted spirit alive. But behind closed doors Hollie is searching for true happiness as she grieves the tragic loss of her family who were once the beating heart of the café…

An unexpected meeting.

Jake lives by two rules: don’t let anyone get close and don’t talk about what happened. Little does he know that a chance meeting at The Starfish Café, facilitated by a fluffy lost dog, is about to turn his world upside down…

The chance to love again.

Can Hollie and Jake break down the barriers that have been holding them back from finding love and happiness, before Christmas comes around? After all, with courage, nothing is impossible…

Join top 10 bestseller Jessica Redland for a magical winter at the seaside, where love blossoms and lifelong friendships are made.

My Review:

Hollie and Jake have broken hearts. Hollie has been through good times and bad. She hopes the café will still be the important place her mum created it to be. She and her mum are very close and I liked thst.

There are moments of tragedy in this book and there are always sweet treats and good company. I was won over by the mention of hot chocolate with marshmallows and chocolate buttons (I will have to try it like that) at the beginning of the book and felt the atmosphere of the café and surrounding area was somewhere I wanted to be.

Can Jake forget the past and move on?

Jessica Redland’s books are uplifting and I’m looking forward to discovering more of them after this. I enjoyed Finding Love at Hedgehog Hollow and All you Need is Love.

Her writing style is always gripping, immersive and makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

I can’t rate this book highly enough. It’s beautiful.

Thanks to Jessica Redland, Boldwood Books and Rachel’s Random Resources for my ARC in exchange for an honest and voluntary review.

Also thanks to Claire for the Boldwood Book Club Readalong event featuring this book from 13-17 December 2021.

5 stars

Buy Here:

How We Spent the Best Christmas Possible in 2020

This year, Christmas is different, there’s no doubt about that. Each year, we usually eat our Christmas meal on Christmas Day, but this year we ate it on Christmas eve. Mixing Spanish, Peruvian and English customs is a thing for us, so we have Christmas cards and a Christmas stocking from my parents. Our Christmas breakfast is always pannetone and hot chocolate, and we never forget fruit either. Since this year it’s more important than ever to be as healthy as possible. Fortunately, I’m lucky enough that Alfredo is a great cook. Yesterday, Pay It Forward was on TV. This is one of my favourite films. We made the best of the day but still had a great time and today The Holiday is on. I adore that film, too.   I finished The Christmas Swap. Thanks again to the publisher.  This year, I’m reluctant to say “happy” or “merry” Christmas. But I do hope you have the best Christmas possible.  Things that filled my heart with joy today:  How my husband Alfredo always makes the day so, so special.  Thinking of those I have loved and lost over the years. My grandfather Terrence, Grandmother Lily, aunty Susan, aunty Jane and of course Natalie. And my mother in law Rosa.  Our day is for you, too.  Somehow, the warm, fuzzy feeling I get is still there today. It’s one of hope that next Christmas will be better.