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

JO THOMAS' HEART-WARMING NEW NOVEL SUNSET OVER THE CHERRY ORCHARD IS AVILABLE TO PRE-ORDER NOW 'Jo Thomas has written another stunner of a book that many weeks later I still can't get out of my head' Goodreads reviewer 'Jo's book is as rich and sweet and moreish as baklava' Milly Johnson Jo Thomas's irresistible novel transports you straight to the mountains of Crete. A gorgeous, sun-filled new read from the author of THE OYSTER CATCHER, THE OLIVE BRANCH, and LATE SUMMER IN THE VINEYARD. Perfect for fans of Jill Mansell and Carole Matthews.Sometimes you have to go back before you can move forwards...One magical summer Nell fell in love in the mountains of Crete and her life changed for ever. Eighteen years later, Nell is ready for a new beginning. When she sees a honey farm in the same hilltop town has lost its bees, the opportunity is impossible to resist. Welcomed back to Greece by the warm sun and aroma of wild thyme, Nell finds memories of her past at every turn. But much has changed since she's been away.As Nell throws herself into restoring the honey farm, she starts to unlock the truth of what happened all those years ago. She soon learns that the course of true love - just like Cretan honey - can be wild and sweet. And well worth the wait... Jo Thomas takes you there.Readers are raving about THE HONEY FARM ON THE HILL: 'Jo Thomas has the ability in her writing to take you right there' I Read Novels 'Incredibly enjoyable ... could practically smell the herbs in the air' Rachel's Random Reads'I absolutely loved this book ... a darned good story' Julie's World of Books'So richly imagined and so wonderfully written - highly recommended!' On My Bookshelf 'Superb escapism! ... the way the views, smells, sounds of the island are captured are spectacular' Be Reader Books'Jo Thomas is a purveyor of dreams. I defy anybody to read this book and at the end of it not to dream a little of the Cretan life' Short Books and Scribes 'Warm, sensual and heartwarming' Books, Life and Everything 'Perfect escapist magic' Good Housekeeping'A charming and delightful slice of escapist romantic fiction' Heat'The ultimate cheery tale' Sun

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 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'

Abi Maxwell

Abi Maxwell is the author of an acclaimed story collection, LAKE PEOPLE, and her fiction has also appeared in McSweeney's. She studied writing at the University of Montana and now lives in New Hampshire, where she grew up, with her husband and son.

Kelly Rimmer

Kelly Rimmer is the USA Today bestselling women's fiction author of six novels, including Before I Let You Go and Me Without You. She lives in rural Australia with her husband, two children and fantastically naughty dogs, Sully and Basil. Her novels have been translated into more than twenty languages.

Lavanya Sankaran

Lavanya Sankaran is the author of THE RED CARPET, the acclaimed debut collection selected for Poets & Writers Magazine's Best First Fiction award as well as the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers award. Her work has been featured in the Atlantic Monthly and the Wall Street Journal among others, including publications in India and Europe. She studied at Bryn Mawr College and lives in Bangalore with her husband and daughter. THE HOPE FACTORY is her first novel.

Lee Francis

Lee Francis worked for several years in the world of film, TV and advertising as a script reader and assistant director. PLAYING WITH DEATH, written with his former lecturer Simon Scarrow, is his first novel.

Lesley Nneka Arimah

Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up wherever her father was stationed for work, which was sometimes Nigeria, sometimes not. She has been published in The New Yorker and Granta, her story 'Light' was winner of the 2015 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa, and she has twice been shortlisted for the Caine Prize (2016 and 2017) with stories from WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY.

Lisa Gardner

Lisa Gardner is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestselling author. Her FBI Profiler novels include SAY GOODBYE, GONE and THE KILLING HOUR. Her Detective D.D. Warren series includes THE NEIGHBOUR, which won the International Thriller Writers' Award in 2010, CATCH ME, CRASH & BURN and FIND HER. Lisa lives with her family in New England.

Lisa Scottoline

Lisa Scottoline is the New York Times bestselling author of over twenty novels. There are now more than twenty-five million copies of her books in print, and she is published in over thirty countries. She has been awarded the Edgar Award for crime fiction, and the Cosmopolitan Fun Fearless Female Award. In addition, Lisa writes a weekly column for the Philadelphia Inquirer, as well as a number of non-fiction titles with her daughter, Francesca Serritella. Lisa is a former trial lawyer and lives in Philadelphia with an array of disobedient pets.

Louise Lee

Louise Lee was once a Geography teacher. When oxbow lakes no longer floated her boat, she took the next, natural step in her career progression and became a Private Investigator. Memorable cases include a high-functioning bigamist with three wives and six children, who was set to marry a fourth; and losing a target because George Clooney started chatting her up in a bar.Louise undertook an MA in Creative Writing at Birkbeck, and has had work commissioned by BBC Radio Four. The Florence Love novels follow the life of an irreverent, thor­oughly 'modern' PI who specialises in entrapment, and Louise would love to hear from fellow Florences - stop by her website: www.louiselee.co.uk or drop her a line on Twitter: @louise_lee1.If Louise's mum is reading this, the books are in no way based on her true experiences. Honest.

Lyn Andrews

Lyn Andrews was born in Liverpool in 1944; her father Joseph was killed on D-Day just nine months later. Lyn was brought up in Liverpool and became a secretary before she married and gave birth to triplets. Once the children had gone to school Lyn began writing, and her first novel was quickly accepted for publication. She has since written over thirty books, many of them Sunday Times bestsellers. Lyn lives on the Isle of Man, but spends many weeks of the year back on Merseyside, seeing her children and grandchildren.www.lynandrewsbooks.co.ukwww.facebook.com/LynAndrewsBooksTwitter: @LynSagaAuthor

Lynda Page

Lynda Page was born and brought up in Leicester. The eldest of four daughters, she left home at seventeen and has had a wide variety of office jobs. She now spends the majority of her time helping her daughter and writing her novels in the peace and tranquillity of her daughter's holiday park in Epworth, North Lincolnshire.Follow her on twitter @LyndaPage9 and like her Facebook page: Lynda Page

Maggie O'Farrell

Maggie O'Farrell is the author of seven novels, AFTER YOU'D GONE, MY LOVER'S LOVER, THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US, which won a Somerset Maugham Award, THE VANISHING ACT OF ESME LENNOX, THE HAND THAT FIRST HELD MINE, which won the 2010 Costa Novel Award, INSTRUCTIONS FOR A HEATWAVE, which was shortlisted for the 2013 Costa Novel Award, and THIS MUST BE THE PLACE, which was shortlisted for the 2016 Costa Novel Award. She lives in Edinburgh.

Mark Mills

Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, THE WHALEBOAT HOUSE, won the 2004 Crime Writers' Association Award for Best Novel by a debut author. His second, THE SAVAGE GARDEN, was a Richard and Judy Summer Read and a No. 1 bestseller. Under the name Mark B. Mills, he has written the comic novel, WAITING FOR DOGGO. He lives near Oxford with his wife and two children.

Martina Cole

Martina Cole is the acknowledged queen of crime drama with more than twenty novels to her name, of which over a dozen have been No.1 bestsellers.Several of Martina's novels have been adapted for the screen, including The Take and The Runaway which were shown on Sky 1 to remarkable reviews. In addition, Two Women and The Graft have been adapted for the stage; both were highly acclaimed when performed at the Theatre Royal Stratford East, which also staged Dangerous Lady in 2012, celebrating twenty years since Martina's debut novel was published.Martina Cole is a phenomenon. She continues to smash sales records with each of her books, which have sold thirteen million copies. In 2011 Martina surpassed the £50 million sales mark since records began and was the first British female novelist for adult audiences to achieve this - and she has spent more weeks in the No. 1 slot on the original fiction bestseller list than any other adult novelist. Her hard-hitting, uncompromising and haunting writing is in a genre all its own - no one writes like Martina.

Max Manning

Max Manning worked as a crime reporter for several years, before moving on to Fleet Street, where he worked on several international newspapers - including the Daily Telegraph, where he was a news sub-editor for sixteen years. Max is now a full-time writer living in Essex. He is married and has three grown-up children.