The Christmas Secret
by Karen Swan
EXECUTIVE business coach Alex Hyde is hired by a whisky distillery on the Scottish island of Islay to tame their renegade sales CEO Lochlan Farquhar. But new-age strategy meets old-school family business and sparks inevitably fly. The breathtaking setting is windswept and glorious and the story is supplemented by an intriguing subplot set just after the First World War which gives it added texture and intrigue. Wrap yourself up in a tartan rug, pour yourself a wee dram and escape into this roaring log fire of a read.
Murder at the Mill
by MB Shaw
MB SHAW is the cunning disguise of women’s fiction writer Tilly Bagshawe. This is the first in her new series of cosy crime novels and the point of cosy crime is its reassuring familiarity so we have the big house, the dysfunctional family and the murder of a flamboyant author not short of enemies. It’s up to bohemian and slightly fey artist Iris to uncover the murderer and since it’s Christmas party time, the family and their guests provide plenty of suspects to choose from.
The Christmas Stocking and other Stories
by Katie Florde
THIS good-natured selection of six festive short stories is long enough to get your teeth into if you want a bit of respite from shopping and present wrapping. They are classic Fforde fare: cosy, comforting and reassuring with a touch of romance. From the hired help paid to dress up as a fairy to an untimely power cut that plunges a family Christmas into chaos, these are modern-day fairy tales with a festive twist.
After the Snow
By Susannah Constantine
THIS is a first foray into fiction for TV presenter Susannah Constantine, best known for being one half of Trinny and Susannah. A young girl bears witness to her mother’s slow descent into mental illness and its effects upon her family in a novel that captures English country life in the 1960s. It flips between country houses, stables and fields with lots of smoking, drinking and trusty, kindly servants who save the day. There is even a cameo from Princess Margaret. It’s jolly, posh and madcap but with a dark side as the heroine vacillates between carefree childhood and world-weary adolescence.
Christmas at the Little Beach Street Bakery
by Jenny Colgan
IF you can suspend your disbelief enough to buy into a girl who carries a puffin around in a backpack, then this sweet novel set on a windswept island off Cornwall might be for you. Polly runs a bakery on the island and life with her handsome boyfriend Huckle should be perfect. But as Christmas approaches, she is burdened with a huge secret and under pressure from Huckle to do something she really isn’t sure about. Her friendships and relationships are put to the test as Polly must face up to her past in order to get the future she deserves – and a happy Christmas.
Her Frozen Heart
by Lulu Taylor
LULU Taylor is fast establishing herself as the queen of winter fiction with her sparkling, glittery tales set in big country houses. Jacobean manor Kings Harcourt is the setting for two stories set decades apart but skilfully interwoven as two widows gradually uncover the truth about the men they were married to. In the terrible winter of 1947, Tommy finds herself and her family snowed in at the manor as secrets emerge amid the snowdrifts. Seventy years later, Caitlin rents a wing of the manor after the death of her husband and learns that her best friend Sara is not quite what she pretends to be. Atmospheric, rich in detail and masterfully plotted, this is a hugely satisfying read.