Wednesday 15 July 2020

Guest Review: A Winter Kiss on Rochester Mews by Annie Darling

Tis the season to be jolly!
But on Rochester Mews, two unlikely lovebirds are struggling to find their festive cheer.
Star baker Mattie has hated Christmas ever since she had her heart broken on Christmas Eve. The only thing she hates more is the insufferable Tom, who has rubbed her up the wrong way since she started running the tearoom next door to his bookshop. So when Mattie and Tom are left in charge in the frantic festive days before Christmas, it might be cold outside but things are sure to heat up.
Can a bookshop full of romantic novels, a life-sized reindeer and a mistletoe kissing booth persuade two scrooges to fall in love with Christmas… and each other?

Review: This is the fourth book in the Lonely Hearts Bookshop series from Annie Darling. It follows on from the previous three in the series, all of which have focused on one individual staff member from the Happy Ever After specialist romantic fiction bookshop located in Rochester Mews in the heart of London. I have read all the other books in the series, and was looking forward to completing the set with this final story about the remaining employees.

As the lovely cover suggests, this story is set in the run up to Christmas. It centres this time on Tom, the bookshop’s longest serving staff member, who is known for keeping his personal life secret from the others, and Mattie, who runs the tearoom attached to the bookshop. Mattie finds Tom particularly irritating; in fact, the only thing they have in common is a hatred of all things Christmassy. Mattie’s dislike of the season stems from a very unpleasant incident in her past, but she has to put that aside and produce the most mouthwatering festive specialties for the tearoom. Tom has to put up with all sorts of Christmas decorations in the shop, including a mistletoe kissing booth! When they suddenly find themselves sharing the flat above the shop, and what’s more running the busy shop when all the others are indisposed, will it all be a disaster, or will there be a thaw in their frosty relationship? Of course, the other characters that readers have met in the previous books in this series are all present here as well, giving readers an opportunity to catch up with their love lives.

I have really enjoyed this series of books, and would recommend them all. I wasn’t sure how much I was going to like this one, as I have never really liked the character of Tom in previous parts of the series. However, as his story emerged, I began to see the real man behind his carefully constructed facade of an old-fashioned academic. It was also absorbing learning about Mattie the baker’s background and reasons for her dislike of Christmas and all men; she didn’t really play a major part in the other stories. I was certainly fearful of the outcome when the two of them moved into the small space above the bookshop, given their feelings towards each other. However, their relationship gives plenty of opportunity for comedy as well as romance in this well-written story. The festive setting and the fact that one of the central characters is a baker also presents plenty of scope for delicious offerings to be served up in this story; there are many descriptions of those, leaving me wishing I could walk into the tearoom and sample the lot.

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