BLOG TOUR ~ My Big Fat Christmas Wedding by Samantha Tonge

Today on Becca's Books, I'm thrilled to be singing and dancing about my stop on the blog tour for Samantha Tonge's latest release My Big Fat Christmas Wedding. On my stop of the tour, I'll be sharing with you lucky lot a fabulous extract from the book, just enough to tease you I hope, which I hope you love!


Title - My Big Fat Christmas Wedding
Author - Samantha Tonge
Publication Date - October 15th 2015
Publisher - Carina
Format - Kindle Edition

Things don't always run smoothly in the game of love...

As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex's engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she's hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life - the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be a... fishwife?

There's nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she's sure she'll come to the right decision about where she belongs... hopefully in time for the wedding...

My Big Fat Christmas Wedding is the standalone sequel to Game of Scones, perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Debbie Johnson. 
Don't miss the Christmas Wedding of the year!


Prologue

As if trying to rock us to sleep, the ocean lapped against the fishing boat's sides. However, Niko and I couldn't have been more awake as we lay lips pressed together, on its wooden bottom. A kaleidoscope of magical fairy dust danced before my closed eyes. Despite the midnight breeze, heat surged through my limbs. Almost two months I'd been in Taxos and the passion of my fisherman friend still left me with wobbly Greek semolina pudding for knees.
Okay. Bear with me. I know this sounded like an extract from one of my favourite romance novels. But a starlit Greek night, during the last humidity of summer, spent with the sexiest man in the Aegean, stirred every soppy cell of my being.
I opened my eyes, pulled away and grinned. Niko leant up on one elbow and an inquiring smile crossed those silken lips. In the moonlight (okay, with the help of our lamp) I drank in that caramel skin, those mocha eyes and the taut outline of a man who did physical work for a living. Then my gaze turned to Kos Island's shoreline. Glowing amber lights illuminated the village. The wind dropped and along with the familiar chirp of cicadas, string music drifted across the waves from the beach, where locals cleared up after a community barbecue. We'd all celebrated building work starting on the much-needed, income-boosting Marine Museum. Thank goodness for the faith of some foreign investors. 
'Pippa? You have a joke to share?'
'It's nothing,' I said and chuckled.
He leant forward and with his free hand tickled just above the corner of my hip. His fingers crept up to under my arm and I laughed even harder. Then gently he bent further forward, so that our noses touched. He batted his lush eyelashes against mine - butterfly kisses, his speciality to make me giggle, when we were kids. They still did - but these days made me also tingle in places I never used to know existed. 
'Okay, okay,' I said and backed away, longing to once again kiss his firm mouth. 'It's just that in my mind I called you my fisherman friend. A Fisherman's Friend is a decades-old famous cough-sweet in England, made from liquorice and menthol - people either love it or hate it.'
One eyebrow raised, Niko sat up on the blanket and took both my hands. 'And you, my little juicy fig,' he said, huskily, 'are a huge fan of this particular fisherman friend, no?'
'I'm not sure,' I said airily, 'I might need to have another taste.'
Niko smiled and then stared for a moment. He cleared his throat and pulled me up, so that I was sitting too. Cue a more vigorous rocking of the boat. Water splashed onto my arm, like a sudden shot of aircon. This was the perfect night for skinny-dipping, me minus my polka-dot undies, Niko revealing his lower abdominal V muscle, acquired from honest labour, not some clinical gym.
'You see me as much more than a friend though, no?' said Niko, cheeks tingeing red. 'And you like living here?'
'Huh? Of course. Nikoloas Sotiropoulous. How can you even ask?'
Since my return to Taxos, the holiday destination of my early years, earnest, gorgeous islander, Niko, had become the centre of my world. This was quite an admission for a mathematician who, only a matter of weeks ago, commuted daily for work in a major London bank. If you'd told me back then that in September I'd be running a teashop in Kos, I'd have sooner believed I was going to relocate to Mars. Okay so it would be nice to visit my favourite restaurant in Soho now and again, plus shop in Oxford Street, but London couldn’t compete with the island’s freshly caught fish and coastal views.
‘I adore you and love living here,’ I said. ‘Watching the teashop take off has given me such an adrenaline rush – as has me making plans to branch out to make regular scone deliveries to the Creami-Kos cafĂ© chain. And the summer weeks here have been idyllic. Diving into the refreshing Taxos sea after a hard day’s work, certainly beats catching a stuffy train home to take a shower. As for the raven-black night skies, untainted by the glow of city lights, and villagers shaking my hand every day… I’d never once spoken to some of my close neighbours in London.’
Niko ran a hand through his curly black hair. Through his tight T-shirt his chest rose and dipped more quickly than usual.
‘You speak more poetically since living here,’ he whispered. ‘Where has that practical banker gone?’
I poked him in the ribs. ‘You’ve ruined her. It’s your fault.’
‘I can be a poet too,’ he said, in a seductive treacle-like tone. ‘It’s as if you’re the antidote to my personal poisons. You extinguish my self-doubt and evaporate my paranoia.’ He took a deep breath and glanced away for a second. ‘But now, dear Pippa, I have something very important to say.’ He looked back at me, all the twinkle gone from his eyes. ‘Can’t put it off any longer. It’s been building up.’
‘Is something the matter?’ My heart thumped. Perhaps our time together had been too intense, and he wanted to step back. What if Niko had brought me onto the ocean to let me down gently; say it wasn’t working out, me living in his family’s taverna, baking and selling my scones in the half of the building they’d closed down; poetry aside, that we were too different, with me thinking in numbers, him thinking in shoals; that all those years we’d played together as children, during summer holidays, didn’t mean we were destined to spend our lives together as adults?
I swallowed. ‘What is it?’
‘Yesterday. I spoke to your father.’
‘Did he ring?’ I sat bolt upright. ‘Why didn’t you tell me? Is everything okay?’ My mind raced. Was something wrong at home? Or was Niko worried I’d have no job if we split up and I decided to return to England? Perhaps he was trying to line me up a position with my dad – not that I’d need anyone’s help. I was an independent, modern woman who…aarghh, who melted like chocolate in the sun, when Niko touched me or spoke with his sexy Greek accent that made my skin flush and palms moisten.
‘We…I…your father agreed that…’
‘Niko! Just spit it out!’
‘Huh?’ His brow furrowed and he stuck out his tongue. ‘See, I am not eating anything.’
‘No! In English that means hurry up and tell me. What’s this all about?’
‘Us. The future.’ He pulled a small red box out of his back pocket.
I gasped. Gosh. Really? But…’ My eyes pricked.
‘Your father gives us his blessing,’ Niko prised open the lid and looked up at me shyly. ‘I hope you don’t mind me seeking your father’s permission first but…’ He shrugged those strong shoulders and I nodded, knowing how important some traditions were to him, especially when it came to family. ‘Pippa, you are sweeter than the most honey-filled baklava in Athens. Your first smile of the day is my sunrise. Marry me. Make me the happiest man in the whole of Greece.’
A lump rose in my throat. What an exceptionally pretty silver ring, bearing a sparkling blue sapphire, surrounded by tiny diamonds. It reminded me of the blue and white houses across the island.
‘This belonged to my great aunt Alexis. She had no children and considered me her own grandson. When I was a little boy, she gave this to Mama and told me to one day give it to the woman who captured my heart.’ A smile crossed his face. ‘Of course, at the time I was more interested in capturing carp.’ He squeezed my fingers and his face kind of scrunched up. ‘I…I know it’s not long after Henrik’s proposal. And Greece…the economy…  So if you need time to think – I would understand if you don’t see your future in Kos.’
My heart pounded and I wanted to stand upright and sing! Niko and me married? A tear trickled down my cheek. I couldn’t have felt more different to when my practical, down-to-earth ex-boyfriend had proposed in the summer – which was odd. Up until my trip here, I’d agreed with Henrik that slushy declarations of love were for teenagers or the pastel-covered beach reads that I ironically liked to read. But there was something about Niko’s seductive words that always softened my logical, pragmatic part. And as for the country’s difficulties, I felt nothing but compassion for the Greek people.
‘No.’
His shoulders dropped.
‘No, no, I don’t need time to think!’
His eyes sparked and he pulled me towards him, his warm mouth once again owning mine. I breathed in his natural aroma, a kind of musky, leather masculine scent. My desire for him became more urgent, as our bodies pressed together. Gently, he pushed me away, eyes dancing, cheeks flushed. He took the ring out of the box and hesitated for a moment. Of course – over here wedding rings didn’t go on the left-hand finger, but the right.
More tears flowing, I laughed and offered him my right hand.
‘We’re going to have to compromise,’ I said. ‘Won’t I have to convert to your religion? And then there is the reception venue to choose. Above all else, I don’t want an over-the-top wedding.’
Niko’s infectious chuckles filled the balmy evening air. ‘Good luck with telling Mama and Grandma. We’d better set an early date, if you don’t want arrangements to snowball.’
Snowball. Great word. Like so many of the locals, Niko spoke good English, despite sometimes still misunderstanding the basics. Whereas Greek, to me, might as well have been like learning cat or dog, and don’t even get me started on its written alphabet.
I clapped my hands. ‘Then talking of snow, what about a Christmas wedding? It would cheer up those quiet winter months you talk of.’
In response, Niko – my husband-to-be – gave me a kiss hot enough to turn the sturdiest of snowmen into a puddle.    


Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it's a dog. When not writing, she spends her time cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women's magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction Best eBook award in 2014. Her summer 2015 novel Game of Scones hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart.

You can find Samantha Tonge on Facebook | Twitter | samanthatonge.co.uk
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