Related to: 'A Winter Beneath the Stars'

December Book of the Month

Nikki and Damien continue in Take Me

I awake to an empty bed and the smell of frying bacon. I roll over to find my phone on the bedside table, then glance at the time. Not yet six. I groan and fall back among the pillows, but I don't really want to go back to sleep. What I want is Damien. I slide out of bed, then grab the tank top and yoga pants I'd left draped across a nearby armchair. I head barefoot out of the bedroom and move the short distance down the hall to the third-floor kitchen. We're standing in Damien's Malibu house, and the wall of windows that faces the ocean is wide open, the glass panels having been thrust aside to let in the breeze. The smell of the ocean mingles with the scent of breakfast and I breathe deep, realizing that I am content. Whatever demons had poked at me during the night, Damien effectively banished them. I glance toward the windows and out at the darkened Pacific. Waves glow white in the fading moonlight as they break upon the shore. There is beauty there, and part of me wants to walk to the balcony and stare out at the roiling, frothing water. But the siren call of the ocean is nothing compared to my desire to see Damien, and so I turn away from the windows and head straight to the kitchen. It is larger than the one in the condo I used to share with my best friend, Jamie, and it is not even the primary kitchen for this house. That is on the first floor, and could easily service a one-hundred-table restaurant. But this - the "small" kitchen - was installed as an adjunct to the open area that serves as a venue for entertaining, and since it is just down the hall from our bedroom, Damien and I have gotten into the habit of cooking our meals and eating in this cozier, more informal area. Usually we're joined by Lady Meow-Meow, the fluffy white cat I took custody over when Jamie moved out. I know Lady M misses Jamie, but she's also enjoying having the run of this huge house, and Gregory - the valet, butler, and all around house-running guy - spoils her rotten. Now I lean against the half wall that marks the break from hallway to kitchen. Damien is standing at the stove cooking an omelette as if he were nothing more than an ordinary guy. Except there is nothing ordinary about Damien Stark. He is grace and power, beauty and heat. He is exceptional, and he has captured me completely. At the moment, he is shirtless, and I cannot help the way my breath stutters as my eyes skim over the defined muscles of his back and his taut, strong arms. Damien's first fortune came not form business, but from his original career as a champion tennis player. Even now, years later, he has both the look and the power of an elite athlete. I let my gaze drift down appreciatively. He is wearing simple gray sweatpants that sit low on his narrow hips and cling to the curves of his perfectly toned ass. Like me, he is barefoot. He looks young and sexy and completely delicious. Yet despite his casual appearance, I can still see the executive. The powerful businessman who harnessed the world, who shifted it to his own liking and made a fortune in the process. He is strength and control. And I am humbled by the knowledge that I am what he values most of all, and that I will spend the rest of my life at his side. "You're staring," he says, his eyes still on the stove. I grin happily, like a child. "I enjoy looking at pretty things." He turns now, and his eyes rake over me, starting at my toes. "So do I," he says when his gaze reaches my face, and there is so much heat in his voice that my legs go weak and my body quivers with want. His mouth curves into a slow, sexy smile, and I am absolutely certain in that moment that I am going to melt. "You spoiled my surprise," he says, then nods toward the breakfast table where a tray sits with a glass bud vase displaying a single, red rose. "Breakfast in bed."

Headline Review

Sunset over the Cherry Orchard

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

'Warm, romantic and funny' Katie FfordeJo Thomas's new novel invites you to a special cherry orchard in Spain, where sunshine, romance and family secrets are the order of the day. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews, Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard is a heartwarming, hilarious tale that is 'like the best kind of holiday' (Lucy Diamond).It's time for Beti Winter to dance to her own beat. After three failed engagements Beti is in desperate need of a fresh start. What better place than the sun-drenched hills of southern Spain?But it's not all sangria and siestas. Beti finds work on an old Andalusian cherry farm where there are cherries to be picked, trees to be watered and her fiery boss, Antonio, to win over. As the sun toasts her skin, Beti finds herself warming to the Spanish way of life. Embracing the art of flamenco, she discovers there is much to learn from the dance of passion. She just has to let loose and listen to the rhythm of her heart. Readers love Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard:'I loved it!!! I can't recommend this book enough''Such an enjoyable journey that I just couldn't put it down' 'A real feel good book' 'Wow just wow, its a shame I have to come back to England, after being so thoroughly transported to southern Spain in this wonderful story''Amazing, incredible, heartwarming read that I loved from start to finish''If you want to be transported to another country and another way of life, with fantastic characters and an utterly addictive story, then you really must read this book!''I LOVED LOVED LOVED this book''The plot of Sunset Over the Cherry Orchard is perfect''There is laughter, tears, friendship, jealousy, and passion all vying for attention against the stunning backdrop of rural Spain''This is a delightfully sweet, escapist read that's perfect for holidays or anyone wishing to get away for a bit, as it whisks readers away to beautiful Spain''Sun, Food and Romance is there anything more you could ask for in a summer read? I don't think so!!!'

Headline Review

The Honey Farm on the Hill

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

Notes from the Northern Lights (A Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

An irresistible winter tale that will melt the coldest of hearts...Dive into this gorgeous winter warmer from Jo Thomas, bestselling author of The Oyster Catcher and Late Summer in the Vineyard. Notes from the Northern Lights is a sparkling short story available exclusively in ebook. Wardrobe mistress Ruby Knightly has been sent to Iceland on a very special mission that could save her opera company's opening night. And she's determined that her fear of the dark - and the incoming weather - won't stand in her way.But as Ruby follows her nose across Iceland's wild, volcanic landscape to the warmth of the smokehouses, she will soon discover that there is shelter to be found from even the most turbulent of storms. Particularly if there's romance around the corner...What readers are saying about Notes from the Northern Lights:'A delightful story, drawing in readers in with detailed descriptive writing of the scenery and the feel-good factor of two people who are poles apart but find love and happiness together' 'Could not put it down. Five stars''Jo Thomas captures your interest right from the first paragraph'

Headline Review

Late Summer in the Vineyard

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

The perfect place for a fresh start . . . Escape to France with LATE SUMMER IN THE VINEYARD - Jo Thomas's irresistible follow-up to THE OYSTER CATCHER and THE OLIVE BRANCH. 'A fabulous French feast of fun' Milly Johnson'Love this book ... makes me want to live on a vineyard in the South of France!' Lisa Zupan, Producer of P.S. I Love You Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it's time to put down roots of her own.Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn't know a thing about wine - beyond what's on offer at the local supermarket.There's plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy's new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there's her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.But Emmy will soon realise that in life - just as in wine-making - the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there's romance in the air...What readers are saying about Late Summer in the Vineyard:'A light-hearted romance set in a French vineyard. What could be better for summertime reading!''Funny, romantic and heart-warming read of love, friendships and wine''I loved this book - the sights, sounds, smells of France during the wine making season was truly believable. A great story with funny, loveable characters who I wanted as friends!'

Headline Review

The Red Sky At Night (A Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Olive Branch

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

Can love bloom in the groves of Italy?Escape to Italy with The Olive Branch - the irresistible new novel from Jo Thomas, author of ebook bestseller The Oyster Catcher.'I loved it!' Katie Fforde You can buy almost anything online these days. For Ruthie Collins, it was an Italian farmhouse.Yet as she battles with a territorial goat and torrential rain just to get through the door of her new Italian home, the words of Ed, her ex, are ringing in her ears. She is daft, impetuous and irresponsible.But Ruthie is determined to turn things around and live the dream.First, though, she must win over her fiery neighbour, Marco Bellanouvo, and his family... Then there's the small matter of running an olive farm. As the seasons change and new roots are put down, olives and romance might just flourish in the warmth of the Mediterranean sun.What readers are saying about The Olive Branch:'Characters that come to life and each chapter comes with a smile. An uplifting and thoroughly enjoyable read providing a little escapism, a little romance and a lot of determination''A heart-warming book you will find hard to put down''A feel-good book. Great for a holiday read'

Headline Review

The Chestnut Tree (A Short Story)

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas
Headline Review

The Oyster Catcher

Jo Thomas
Authors:
Jo Thomas

It's sink or swim in the search for love. . . Ebook bestseller The Oyster Catcher is Jo Thomas's first irresistibly feel-good novel, set on the coast of Ireland. 'A world you long to live in with characters you love' Katie Fforde Dooleybridge, County Galway: the last place Fiona Clutterbuck expects to end up, alone, on her wedding night.But after the words 'I do' have barely left her mouth, that's exactly where she is - with only her sequined shoes and a crashed camper van for company.One thing is certain: Fi can't go back. So when the opportunity arises to work for brooding local oyster farmer, Sean Thornton, she jumps at the chance. Now Fi must navigate suspicious locals, jealous rivals and an unpredictable boss if she's to find a new life, and love, on the Irish coast. And nothing - not even a chronic fear of water - is going to hold her back. Join Fi as she learns the rules of the ocean - and picks up a few pearls of Irish wisdom along the way...What readers are saying about The Oyster Catcher:'A fantastic debut novel which was the perfect escapism read; I literally could not put it down and read it at every opportunity I could get''Beautifully written. You feel like you are breathing in the sea air and walking along the sand''A realistic romance with some strong and colourful characters, set in a fascinating, modern Irish coastal community'

Abbi Waxman

Abbi Waxman is a chocolate-loving, dog-loving woman, who lives in Los Angeles and lies down as much as possible. She worked in advertising for many years, which is how she learned to write fiction. She has three daughters, three dogs, two cats, and one very patient husband. The Bookish Life of Nina Hill is Abbi's third novel. Her previous books are The Garden of Small Beginnings and Other People's Houses.

Amanda Reynolds

Amanda Reynolds lives in the Cotswolds with her family where she writes full-time. Her debut novel, Close To Me, is a #1 e-book bestseller. Lying To You is her second book.

Andrea Levy

Andrea Levy was born in England to Jamaican parents who came to Britain in 1948. After attending writing workshops when she was in her mid-thirties, Levy began to write the novels that she, as a young woman, had always wanted to read - entertaining novels that reflect the experiences of black Britons, which look at Britain and its changing population and at the intimacies that bind British history with that of the Caribbean. She has written six books, including SMALL ISLAND, which was the unique winner of both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Whitbread book of the Year, in addition to the Commonwealth Writer's Prize and the Orange Prize 'Best of the Best'. Her most recent novel, THE LONG SONG, won the Walter Scott Prize and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

Bateman

Bateman was a journalist in Northern Ireland before becoming a full-time writer. His first novel, DIVORCING JACK, won the Betty Trask Prize, and all his novels have been critically acclaimed. He wrote the screenplays for the feature films DIVORCING JACK and WILD ABOUT HARRY and the popular TV series MURPHY'S LAW starring James Nesbitt. Bateman lives in Ireland with his family.

Deborah Harkness

Deborah Harkness is a historian of science and a professor of history at the University of Southern California. She spent several years in Oxford doing research (and really did once find a missing manuscript in the Bodleian Library!). She has written THE JEWEL HOUSE: ELIZABETHAN LONDON AND THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION as well as the three novels in the internationally bestselling ALL SOULS trilogy, A DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, SHADOW OF NIGHT and THE BOOK OF LIFE.

Dorothy Koomson

Dorothy Koomson is the award-winning author of 14 novels including the Sunday Times bestsellers My Best Friend's Girl, The Ice Cream Girls and Goodnight, Beautiful. Dorothy's novels have been translated into over 30 languages, and a TV adaptation based on The Ice Cream Girls was shown on ITV1 in 2013. After briefly living in Australia, Dorothy now lives in Brighton. The Brighton Mermaid is her most recent novel.

Emily Gunnis

Emily Gunnis previously worked in TV drama and lives in Brighton with her young family. She is one of the four daughters of Sunday Times bestselling author Penny Vincenzi.

Gill Thompson

Gill Thompson is an English lecturer who recently completed an MA in Creative Writing at Chichester University. The first three chapters of THE OCEANS BETWEEN US were longlisted for the Mslexia novel award. She lives with her family in West Sussex and teaches English to college students.

Jen Williams

JEN WILLIAMS started writing about pirates and dragons as a young girl and hasn't ever stopped. Her short stories have featured in numerous anthologies and her debut novel, The Copper Promise, was published in 2014 to huge acclaim. Jen was nominated in the Best Newcomer category at the 2015 British Fantasy Awards and her following two novels, The Iron Ghost and The Silver Tide were both shortlisted for the British Fantasy Awards Novel of the Year. Jen lives in London with her partner and their cat.

Jill Mansell

'The queen of witty, heart-warming, feel-good love stories' RedJill Mansell started writing fiction while working in the NHS, after she read a magazine article that inspired her to join a local creative writing class. She has since written over twenty Sunday Times bestsellers, including The One You Really Want and You And Me, Always, and her books have sold over 11 million copies around the world. Jill's hobbies include buying stationery, particularly magical new colours of ink for the fountain pen she uses to write all her books. She lives in Bristol with her family. Jill keeps in touch with her readers on Twitter - @JillMansell - and Facebook - /OfficialJillMansell.

Jill Shalvis

New York Times bestseller Jill Shalvis is the author of many romance novels including her acclaimed Cedar Ridge, Lucky Harbor and Animal Magnetism series. The RITA winner and three-time National Readers Choice winner makes her home near Lake Tahoe. Visit her website at www.jillshalvis.com for a complete book list and daily blog, and www.facebook.com/jillshalvis for other news or follow her on Twitter @jillshalvis.

Jo Watson

Jo Watson is an award-winning writer whose romantic comedies were originally published on Wattpad. Her first novel Burning Moon won a 2014 Watty Award for being one of the site's most downloaded titles and has now had over 7 million reads. Jo is an Adidas addict and a Depeche Mode devotee. She lives in South Africa with her family.Visit her website www.jowatsonwrites.co.uk for exclusive extras and follow her on Twitter @JoWatsonWrites, Facebook at www.facebook.com/jowatsonwrites and Instagram @jowatsonwrites.