Every time I’m on a tour for Linn.B.Halton I get SO excited! I love being able to share my thoughts on such Linn’s wonderful books, and this one is no exception. Here is my review of Linn.B.Halton’s festive treat – Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage.
The countdown to Christmas is usually a magical time, but Elana James is fed up with living on a building site! The renovations on her beautiful cottage – like her heart – have been frozen in limbo ever since she was unexpectedly widowed.
Elana calls in a professional, Luke Stevenson, to help finish the cottage, so her little girl can send letters to Santa up the newly-repaired chimney. Luke’s kind, capable and sexy – but he’s also ten years younger than Elana. So why has her heart decided it’s finally time for a thaw?
What does TWG think?
SNIFF. SNIFF. SNIFF.
For those of you with children, you’ll understand how magical Christmas with young children can be, especially with those who believe in Santa. I’m sure a lot of parents can find the whole thing quite emotional when they see their children’s happy faces on Christmas morning, realising their ‘biggest wish of their life’ has come true by Santa bringing them ‘Pie Face’. Now, if you add a child who has lost one of her parents into the mix, the emotion within the storyline gets put on a totally new level. Coming from a person who has ‘Ice Queen’ as their nickname, even I melted at the contents of this novel. Seriously, you’ll have to be a person with no soul if you’re not at least a little bit moved by this book. Trust me.
Elana James’ life got turned upside down in the blink of an eye. In the aftermath of such unfortunate circumstances, Elana is left to bring up her little girl single-handedly, keep a roof over their heads (literally) with her career, as well as try to find the time to turn a DIY SOS disaster into a finally finished home. What Elana wasn’t prepared for was her new-found builder to be exceptionally easy on the eye and brilliant with her daughter. Surely it’s time to move on, right?
Elana’s situation caught me right in the feels. Although to be honest, if there wasn’t a child involved, I don’t think I would have been quite so emotional (I realise that makes me sound heartless but you’ll see what I mean when you read the book). I just couldn’t even begin to imagine what the James’ went through, especially now that Elana’s daughter is of an age where she wants answers. You can’t really blame her either. The whole debacle with the chimney left a golf ball sized lump in my throat for several hours after finishing this book. I mean….wow. Heart-wrenching yet totally relatable.
There were a couple of situations within Linn.B.Halton’s novel which shocked me at the time yet I couldn’t seem to work out why they were there. Don’t get me wrong, they didn’t seem to stick out like a sore thumb, but I thought that the neighbourly situation was a little bit….random whilst also coming to an abrupt stop. It didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the novel at all, I just wondered why, that was all.
I loved the warmth of the storyline with the mixture of loveable characters. I loved how the Christmas spirit was laid bare to begin with, yet built each bauble at a time throughout the novel. As for Elana’s life – I loved how relatable, realistic and genuine her story was as it made me connect to the main character a lot quicker. She didn’t seem to hide her emotions or pretend to be something that she’s not. Instead, Elana was determined to make the best of a bad situation whilst also trying to do the right thing by her little girl, even though she thought every decision she made was the wrong one.
Linn.B.Halton has, once again, taken a heart-wrenching, real-life situation and turned it into a thought-provoking, touching and emotional read. I really have no idea how this author manages to produce such truly wonderful books, but she does. This authors writing skills and story telling abilities are second to none, which makes every single book I read of hers an absolutely treasure to read. Linn.B.Halton most definitely has a fan for life in TWG for as long as she continues to produce such enchanting novels such as this one, and her entire back catalogue.
‘Christmas at Bay Tree Cottage’ is such a cosy and touching novel, which is probably going to play havoc with your emotions until the very last page.
Turn off your phone, grab the box of Kleenex and curl up in bed with this absolutely beautiful read – you’ll be a fool not to.
‘Mum, can we light the log fire tonight?’ Maya looks up at me with eager eyes.
‘I think we should wait until the weekend, darling. There isn’t really time to appreciate
it on a school night, is there? Besides, I’m not even sure whether there are any logs
left in the store. I promise to get it sorted as soon as I can.’
It was Niall’s job, sorting the fire. He would have booked the chimney sweep in early
autumn and had the logs all ready and waiting, stacked neatly against the back wall
of the garage. Ironically, last year I was much more organised. I suppose it was one
of my coping mechanisms during those raw, early weeks and months. Keep going;
keep doing something – anything, so I didn’t have to listen to what was in my head.
But I feel bad. Maya will remember that this time last year we spent every evening
huddled together on the sofa in front of the fire, reading. Hour upon hour we escaped
into alternative worlds inspired by some wonderful authors. Roald Dahl’s Matilda, E.
B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, and Maya’s favourite, Jill Murphy’s The Worst Witch, a
story of tenderness and triumph.
It was the very worst of times, but I focused on getting us through it one day at a
time. My gut instinct, immediately after the accident, had been to sell the cottage just
to escape that prevailing sense that something was missing. Niall was no longer
here and it would never, ever be the same again. But soon realisation dawned that
Maya needed a sense of continuity; the memories trapped within these walls were a
lifeline for her, although a cruelly painful reminder for me. In a way she feels her dad
is still here and I can’t take that away from her.
About the author.
Bristol-born Linn lives in the Forest of Dean, in the UK. She resides there with her
lovely husband and cat, Ziggy. She has been writing novels since 2009 and has
written short stories for a number of magazines. She is also known for her series of
‘Home by Design’ articles wearing her former interior designer hat.
“I’m a hopeless romantic, self-confessed chocaholic, and lover of coffee. For me, life
is about family, friends, and writing. Oh, and the occasional glass of White Grenache”
An Amazon UK Top 100 best-selling author with A Cottage in the Country in
November 2015, Under The Stars also became a best-selling novel in November
2016. Linn’s novels have been short-listed in the UK’s Festival of Romance and the
eFestival of Words Book Awards. Linn won the 2013 UK Festival of Romance:
Innovation in Romantic Fiction award.
Linn writes chick lit, romantic comedy, women’s contemporary fiction and psychic
romance. Publishers include Harper Impulse, Choc Lit and Endeavour Press.
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