Blog Tour: Review - Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin

Today on Becca's Books, I'm delighted to be sharing my review of Holly Martin's Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky as part of the blog tour.

Title - Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky
Author - Holly Martin
Publication Date - September 22nd 2016
Publisher - Bookouture
Format - Kindle Edition (Provided by publisher via NetGalley)
Pages - 322

This year spend a wonderful Christmas on Juniper Island, where love can melt even the iciest of hearts...

Piper Chesterfield lives a glamorous life travelling the world and reviewing the finest hotels. She calls nowhere home, she works alone and that's how she likes it. For long ago Piper decided that to protect her heart she should lock it away.

So when Piper's next assignment brings her to the newly-opened Stardust Lake Hotel for the festive season, the last person she expects to face is Gabe Whitaker, the man who broke her heart so completely she could never love again.

But Piper isn't the only one who has been frozen in time by heartbreak. Gabe hasn't forgotten the golden-eyed girl who disappeared from his world without a trace.

Now fate has reunited them on Juniper Island, can the magic of Christmas heal old wounds? And can this enchanting town be the one place Piper can finally call home?

Curl up with this gorgeously romantic tale and let the glistening snow and the roaring fires of Stardust Lake Hotel get you in the festive spirit Christmas.

Well blow me down and sprinkle me with fairy dust! It feels like it has been such a long, long time since I last delved into a novel by the wonderful Holly Martin, so as soon as Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky became available, I jumped on it! I could not wait to discover Juniper Island for myself and see what Holly Martin had in store for her readers this time. Reading a Holly Martin novel, for me, is like stumbling into a world where EVERYTHING I LOVE ABOUT READING has been captured perfectly. The romance, the settings, the characters. They are always beautiful, always moving and always, without fail, the sort of novels that remain with me long after I've turned the final page. And, for someone who adores Christmas as much as I do, Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky was a definite must. How could I possibly resist?!

In Holly Martin's Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky, readers are introduced to Piper Chesterfield, also known as Pip. Immediately, Martin brings her character beautifully to life on the page, and as the chapters pass by, we're given a wonderful yet emotional insight into Piper's life now, as well as her life before. For years now, Piper has been travelling the world to review hotels in some of the most stunning places. Readers love her honesty and style, and it's been said that some places have been left quaking in their boots over news of this reviewer's arrival. It's a job she adores but, by travelling so much, Piper has never really stopped and found a place to call 'home'. Jetting here, there and everywhere, her life is chaotic and she is constantly on the move. She's not ungrateful. She knows that there are people out there who would love to be in her shoes. But she also knows that on the cold, dark and lonely nights, her travels won't keep her warm. They won't comfort her or hold her tight, and it's obvious that Piper knows, deep down, something is missing.

When Piper is sent to the Stardust Lake Hotel (how utterly gorgeous is that name?), memories surface of the last time she'd been there, with childhood best-friend and first love Gabe Whitaker, but it's not all roses and rainbows for Piper when she looks back on her past. In fact, she dealt with so much pain and heartache, it was impossible for me not to feel for the woman. But the things she dealt with and the sorrow they caused were often soothed by Gabe and his wonderful family, who took her in and made her feel as if she did actually have a place in the world, wrapped up in the warmth that they constantly bestowed upon her. Heading back to the Stardust Lake Hotel now, Piper can't wait to see what's in store for her. With her reviewing head firmly on, she's ready to tackle yet another item on her to-do list.

As soon as Piper set foot on Juniper Island, I felt as if I'd stumbled into a winter wonderland. Martin's descriptions of this beautiful island were just incredible, transporting me directly to Piper's side as she began to discover and explore. The area had changed immeasurably since the last time she was there and so it's all about looking around and taking the time to see what the Stardust Lake Hotel has to offer. And boy was it exciting. I was like a child at Christmas myself as I lapped up the author's words, completely bowled over by Martin's imagination and how fantastically she'd put it to good use. From reindeers to a real-life ice palace, and spotting the Northern lights to the gorgeously snug log cabins that were available for the guests. It was just exquisite. Martin absolutely whisked me away with this story. I adored the crunchiness of the snow and the snuggliness of the roaring fires. I wanted so desperately to throw myself into the pages and book myself in for a stay at the Stardust Lake Hotel myself. It was gloriously Christmassy. GLORIOUSLY.

What added to my sheer enjoyment of this novel were the relationships captured by Martin. Not only am I referring to the wobbly relationship between Piper and Gabe, but also the smaller, secondary relationships that positively thrummed with warmth and love. When Piper sets eyes on Gabe again for the first time in years, I felt my toes curl up with pleasure. It was no secret that there was still chemistry between these two and I really couldn't wait to see how Holly Martin would explore this. Although reluctant to get close to each other due to some serious misunderstandings from both of their pasts, I wanted nothing more than for the barriers between them to come crashing down. With so much time having passed since the last time they saw each other, things have changed for both of them. Piper has travelled far and wide with a secure cage locked tight around her heart, and Gabe is now a father to the adorable Wren, who adds such gorgeous presence to this story and who I found it impossible to not adore. The focus on friendship and family, including Gabe's fatherly duties, was heart-warming, and allowed to see a side to her childhood friend that she hadn't seen before. I think this was also a fantastic way to show just how much time had passed while they'd been apart, and how massively things had changed for the both of them.

Alongside a number of fabulously crafted characters, my visit to the Stardust Lake Hotel was just splendid. Martin has truly captured the essence of Christmas in her latest novel and it was perfect in every way possible. There was tension, chemistry and love by the plenty, and the reunion of two people who I believe fate knew would be brought together again, whether they liked it or not. Humorous, log-fire warm and completely and utterly enchanting, it was magical and a must-read this Christmas time. You'll be whisked away from reality after the first page and, if anything like me, you'll be reluctant to come back by the time you've finished!

Becca's Books is awarding Christmas Under a Cranberry Sky by Holly Martin with five of my bookish cupcakes. This was everything that I hoped it would be and MORE. A truly romantic tale generously sprinkled with a hefty helping of glittering snow! Wrap up warm and allow yourself to be whisked away by Holly Martin to a place you'll never, ever want to leave.

About the author
Holly lives in sunny Bedfordshire in a house with round windows. She studied media at university which led to a very glitzy career as a hotel receptionist followed by a even more glamorous two years working in a bank. The moment that one of her colleagues received the much coveted carriage clock for fifteen years’ service was the moment when she knew she had to escape. She quit her job and returned to university to train to be a teacher. Three years later, she emerged wide eyed and terrified that she now had responsibility for the development of thirty young minds. She taught for four years and then escaped the classroom to teach history workshops, dressing up as a Viking one day and an Egyptian High Priestess the next. But the long journeys around the UK and many hours sat on the M25 gave her a lot of time to plan out her stories and she now writes full time, doing what she loves.

Holly has been writing for 6 years. She was shortlisted for the New Talent Award at the Festival of Romance. Her short story won the Sunlounger competition and was published in the Sunlounger anthology. She won the Carina Valentine’s competition at the Festival of Romance 2013 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance 2014.

You can find Holly Martin on Facebook | Twitter

Be sure to keep up with the rest of the blog tour!

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