Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson

Title - Bella's Christmas Bake Off
Author - Sue Watson
Publication Date - October 22nd 2015
Publisher - Bookouture
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided via publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 314

Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER.

Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking - a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter 'Silver Fox' Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. But this year things are going to be different.

For Amy Lane, Bella's best friend from school, life hasn't held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy's husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. Amy has watched Bella's rise to fame fondly, despite the fact that Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella's latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy's mother's recipes, the gloves are off...

After winning a competition to appear on Bella's TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember...

A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas.

I always look forward to Sue Watson's books. Always, always, always. And Bella's Christmas Bake Off was no different. I believe that Sue's style of writing cannot be matched, and this author really is in a league all of her own. All of the books that I've read by Sue so far have left me feeling completely and wonderfully on top of the world! They have such a feel-good and LOVE LIFE factor within them, it's hard to find anything that I don't like. So moving on from my little fan-girl moment, let me tell you why I utterly adored Bella's Christmas Bake Off by the fabulous Sue Watson.

If Sue's deliciously foodie descriptions weren't enough to win me over in Bella's Christmas Bake Off, then the premise of this novel, best friends at war, was the thing that did it. I gathered from the blurb that Bella's and Amy's life were in very different places, but I also gathered that, despite this, at one point they'd been the best of friends. Immediately, I wanted to know more about the history of Bella and Amy, because clearly there'd been a special bond between them when they'd been younger. People grow and move on throughout life, it's a given, but the fact that Amy still watched Bella on-screen fondly said to me that she missed her old friend dearly. Sue's ability to drag you into her novels is second-to-none, and it didn't take long for me at all to feel at one with Amy. Her situation with her husband was tragic, and I felt that despite her own life being nowhere near as wonderful as Bella's, she held no hard feelings towards her old best friend. This only made me love Amy's character more. Sure, she was a bit jealous of the sparkly kitchen and perfect set-up, but I could tell, somehow, that Amy was actually really happy for Bella, no matter what it was that had come between them. And there had been something. Sue ensures the reader is aware that something pretty life-changing was the reason behind the women going their separate ways, and I was dying to figure out what this reason was.

Unpicking the past, piece by piece, as the novel progressed, Sue slowly began to bring the secrets behind Bella and Amy to the surface, but that's not before, suddenly overcome with a rage that rivals nothing else due to seeing Bella using her mother's recipes on-screen, Amy enters into a competition to win a Christmas spent with the one and only Bella! And, my heart racing at this point, SHE WINS! I was overjoyed, because I just knew that Sue was about to mix up the plot with as much vigour Bella would use whipping up flour, egg and sugar in a mixing bowl. Also, eagerly telling my partner what was about to take place within the book, he said, 'That would make a good film'. Now, that may not seem like much to anyone else, but my partner isn't a book person. He's a film person. Never, not once, has he said that when I've gone to him with excitement over a book I'm reading. So, Sue, take note! ;)

I couldn't wait, COULD NOT WAIT I TELL YOU, for things to start heating up. The anger behind Amy was completely understandable. As memories of the girls' past began to bubble up, it became clear that they truly had been the best of friends, and had spent many hours in the kitchen with together, with Amy's mother, baking up all sorts of wonderful and tasty treats. Amy had always held those memories close to her heart, and she'd thought that Bella had too. Each year, Amy had sent Christmas cards to Bella, each containing a recipe they'd shared in their earlier years. With no reply, and believing that Bella was choosing to ignore her outstretched hand of friendship, Amy had concluded that the recipes had gone unnoticed. But when Bella announces the recipes within her upcoming cookbook, Amy recognises each and everyone.

Throughout the rest of this novel, I was taken on a thrilling, yet very deceiving ride, through Bella's present life, and she and Amy's shared past. It really is true what they say, looks can be deceiving, and Sue Watson certainly deceived me within Bella's Christmas Bake Off. It was such a fun and enjoyable read, setting me right up for the Christmas merriness, yet held so much heart and soul too. Best friends are truly special, and this novel only went to show how much friendship can take you, if you'll let it. It was wonderfully uplifting, leaving me with a smile right across my face, in the very same as Sue Watson's novels always do. This author is such a joy to read. I will always remain excited in regards to Sue's future releases.

Becca's Books is awarding Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson with FOUR gorgeous cupcakes! A sleigh-ride through the snow, but also through the ups and downs of the bond between two life-long friends. Heart-warming, joyful and full of festive cheer and foodie delights, this is the perfect book to pop onto your Kindle this Christmas! I'd also like to say a huge thank you to the wonderful publishers Bookouture, for providing me with a review copy of Bella's Christmas Bake Off by Sue Watson. It is always a delight to return to Sue's novels!

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