Dec 3, 2015

Happy Harper Christmas Book Review: The Kiss Before Christmas by Sophie Pembroke

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Review by Suze

Dory has a PA job in New York. She moved there to live a dream life, but things didn't work out the way she planned. She doesn't even have the money to fly back to Liverpool to be with her family. Tyler, her boss, has a proposition for her though. If she spends Christmas with his family he will pay for the plane tickets to the UK, so Dory can spend New Year's Eve with hers. There's one condition, she has to pretend to be his girlfriend. Of course she says yes, but the price she has to pay to earn the ticket is quite high. Tyler's parents are cold and distant and they don't think she's good enough for their son. Fortunately there's Lucas, Tyler's brother, who has disappointed his family, so Dory isn't the only one they don't approve of. He's her ally, but he's also smart and might be able to see through Tyler's plans if they aren't careful...

The Kiss Before Christmas is such a wonderful romantic Christmas story. It has the right festive spirit. There's cake, there's mistletoe, there are a lot of misunderstandings and there's a gorgeous man. What's not to love? Tyler's family is wealthy and they're living in incredible luxury. Dory tries to make a good impression, but that isn't easy. She has to put up with a lot to earn that ticket, which made the story interesting and fun. This novella definitely put a smile on my face, which is exactly what a great Christmas story should do. If you're looking for something to brighten up a cold winter evening I highly recommend this warm and sweet Christmas novella.

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Jenny & Giveaway

About Jenny

Jenny is a blogger who loves Slytherin and Disney. She is a F1 fan. She is a bit like Cinderella; always cleaning, befriending animals and losing her shoes.


1) What's your best Christmas memory?

I tell you what, this isn’t the best start to this Christmas themed Q&A but I find it so difficult to think of one specific Christmas memory because I’ve always had very low key Christmases. Ever since I was little, we would do the usual; presents, Christmas dinner, my grand parents would come round but that’s really it. Although it was slightly after Christmas, I’d have to say my best memory of that specific time of the year would be when I spent it in Disneyland for New Years. All the Christmas decorations were still up and they had an almighty firework display - it was magical.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I loved With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews. A truly enjoyable and fun read! I also loved The First Christmas Without You by Michelle Betham. I also loved Carole Matthews short story, Sunshine With a Chance of Snow, although it’s very emotional! Don’t you just love Christmas covers?!

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, 
who would you choose and why?

I’d have my nan back for another Christmas. We always had a routine with my mum’s parents; we would go and pick them up around lunchtime, bring them back to mine then my dad and my granddad would go out for a few hours whilst me, my mum and my nan would stay at home and watch TV. Then we’d all eat dinner when they got back. That all changed when my nan died and although it’s been a long time, Christmas Day is always the time when I think about my nan and how she should be here at home with us.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I swear, when I was like 7, I looked out the front door window of my old house on Christmas Eve night and saw a cloud that looked EXACTLY like Santa’s sleigh! I always believed in Santa when I was little because my parents always encouraged the idea by leaving out mince pies and carrots (and then eating them whilst I was asleep) and leaving a sack with presents in. It was really nice to have that though - this magic that I couldn’t quite explain.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Oh my, I just don’t know! I tend to be quite appreciative of presents - whatever they are so no present I’ve got I’ve thought, “Well, this is rubbish!” I make use of whatever I receive! My best Christmas present/s would have to be my laptop and camera because it’s what I do all my blogging on!

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

None. Sorry, I hate Christmas songs!

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

Oh okay but I do love Christmas films! The Nightmare Before Christmas, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Love Actually, The Snowman, Four Christmases!

8) Top 3 books that you're giving as Christmas presents?

Ooh, I do love giving books as Christmas presents. This year, I’d definitely give Is It Just Me? by Miranda Hart as a gift. I’ve recently read and reviewed it and it was SO funny!

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Most favourite… Buying gifts for other people. I absolutely love it and I love spending ages finding the perfect gift for everyone. Least favourite, oh God the SONGS!

10) I must ask, sorry - the best Christmas food is...?

Pigs in blankets… Obviously!


One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive these super cute lollipop pens from Jenny. Good luck!

11,000 Twitter Followers Giveaway 1

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win a beautiful Decodelire bag and wallet, L'Occitane beauty products, jewelry and books. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Australia Days Book Review: Heir to Greyladies

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Review by Suze

Harriet's father dies at the worst possible moment. Unfortunately that leaves her in the care of her greedy stepmother. Her stepbrother is evil and he has awful plans for and with Harriet. Instead of continuing her education Harriet has to go into service which means she can escape him as long as she's employed. She finds a job at the big Danton House. The owners have a crippled son, Joseph. Soon Joseph and Harriet are becoming friends. When Harriet's situation is about to change again Joseph is there to accompany her. but will she ever be able to feel safe from her evil stepmother and stepbrother?

Heir to Greyladies is a wonderful story about a very sweet girl who hasn't had much luck in life. That might change because of Greyladies. Harriet is such an amazing main character, she's kind, loving and helpful and she doesn't deserve to be treated appallingly. Joseph is equally lovable, but his family doesn't see it. I constantly felt for him as he has so much to offer. It was such a joy to read about their friendship. They've been brought to life so well that I had the idea I could see and hear them which made me love this novel even more.

Anna Jacobs knows how to write a story. I enjoyed reading this book very, very much. I'm glad there are more Geyladies books. I highly recommend this heartwarming and romantic novel. It ends with a great cliffhanger which, given how good the rest of the story already is, is the cherry on the cake. I can't praise this book enough, I liked it a lot. 

Dec 2, 2015

Australia Days Etsy Spotlight & Giveaway: Suze Loves 6 Maniac Lemurs!

I love 6 Maniac Lemurs, a shopped filled with beautiful and original jewelry.

The owner, Mirela, is a graphic artist who loves to make illustrations.

I greatly admire her creativity.

She sells pieces for both men and women. The best thing about this is that they also could be matched.

I like her ideas very much.

The 6 in 6 Maniac Lemurs stands for June and the rest of the shop name is an anagram of Mirela's maiden name. 

Mirela has a fascinating, distinctive own style.

She uses all kinds of methods and materials to get the results she wants.

The jewelry is bold and colorful and there are a lot of great statement pieces for sale in this shop.

I find the designs intriguing and pretty at the same time, which I think is a great combination.

Mirela finds her inspirations in a lot of things around her. For example, there's a gorgeous Australia inspired collection.

In the description of the items you can find how Mirela has made the pieces.

I love her versatility and skill.

Check out these wonderful pieces.

You will love this shop!

Mirela is originally from Romania where she went to the Academy of Fine Arts.

In 2008 she moved to Australia and there she continued working on her techniques. 

You can find more information about her on her website.

Make sure you visit the Girls' Corner. I spent hours enjoying myself there.

Check out this fantastic Etsy store.

Enjoy browsing and have fun shopping!

One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a stunning prize:

This beautiful unique seahorse necklace has been made especially for the winner of this giveaway. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Australia Days Giveaway: Natio Mascara, Eye Pencil, Eye Shadow and Lip Gloss

Enter this giveaway for a chance to win Natio mascara, lip gloss, eye shadow and an eye pencil. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Happy Harper Christmas Book Review: A Stocking Full of Romance by Brigid Coady

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Review by Suze

A Stocking Full of Romance is a wonderful collection of festive short stories. They're all sweet and romantic. For example, there's a story about reconnecting with lost love, one about a special Secret Santa and one about a singer who meets three interesting old men. There are seven stories in total and they aren't very long. They're perfect to read when you're in a waiting room or if you want to read something quick and sweet.

Brigid Coady managed to draw me into each story straight away. I love Christmas stories and this is such a joyous collection. I enjoyed reading all of them very much. My favorite was the Secret Santa story, which is both sexy and original. All of the stories have their own character and the topics are different each time, which gives the reader a versatile collection. These stories are a wonderful Christmas treat and they have the exact right Christmas spirit.  

Agi and Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview with Lynn Marie Hulsman! + Giveaway

About Lynn Marie Hulsman

Lynn Marie Hulsman is the bestselling author of three romantic comedies, who also writes cookbooks. She enjoys Nora Ephron movies, pop psychology, terriers, and napping. She is not a fan of people walking three abreast on New York City sidewalks or spiders of any ilk. She does not believe in white chocolate.Once a stand-up comic, and now a PTA mom and corporate ideation agent, she spends a lot of energy keeping her wise-cracks to herself. Find out more about Lynn Marie by following her on Twitter and Facebook, and by visiting her website. She's on Pinterest, but accepts defeat in the face of true crafty types. Don't be shy about reaching out to say hi -- as a Black Belt Procrastinator, she welcomes the distraction. 



1) What's your best Christmas memory?

I had a little toy poodle named Bitsy, that my mother got from my aunt when it turned out my cousin was allergic to even a non-shedding dog. They got her for me because I was the only girl of five children, which meant I didn’t share a bedroom, and I was the youngest. I was scared to go upstairs in our large suburban house by myself, and Bitsy was my companion and friend. She passed away… she was never really healthy, but getting into the stockings under the tree and eating the chocolate may have been what sealed the deal. She died shortly after Christmas when I was 13. My mother said we’d never get another dog because there was too much heartbreak when they passed away. The next year, I had no hope that a dog would be a possibility, but on Christmas Eve, I was led into the “good” living room… the one we only went in at Christmastime when the tree was set up, and told to close my eyes. When I opened them, a tiny, shiny black tangle of curls with two gleaming dark eyes came out from behind the coffee table. I kept asking, “Is he mine? Is he mine?” I named him Bonkers, after a dog in a John Irving novel. (I know… what was I doing reading John Irving when I was 14, but helicopter parents hadn’t been invented yet). The whole thing was like a television commercial. The memory is sparkly and technicolor.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

It’s so hard to pin down only three! I’ll make you a deal… I’ll tell you three of my TOP choices for this year if you promise not to hold me to them forever. And I’m going to choose only from my favorite genre, Romantic Comedy. If I start getting into Dickens or Dr. Seuss, we’ll be here all day. 

Number 1: Bridget Jones, by Helen Fielding. I’m going to say both 1 and 2, and count that as one answer. I love the first one for Mark Darcy in his Christmas jumper and the shenanigans of the oldies at her parents’ house. I love number two because the scene in the church, where Bridget comes to some great realizations had such depth. It’s a really well written piece of literature. I cried and cried. It was so cathartic.

Number 2: The Great Christmas Knit-Off by Alexandra Brown. It had it all: Heart, humor, romance, and a dog. I really enjoyed the mythical village in which it was set, and the magical joy of the season. 

Number 3: Tinsel and Terriers by Cressida McLaughlin. Dogs, England, Christmas, conflict, and a happy ending. It’s like it was made for me.

Number 4: All the Christmas books by Carole Matthews, Trisha Ashley, Miranda Dickinson, and Katie Fforde. (Sorry, I told you this was really, really hard for me).

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

My mom. I lost her five years ago, and with hindsight and with children of my own, I can clearly see how hard she worked to make so many people feel joy for the holidays. I’d like a chance to explain that I really get it, and to truly thank her. 

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I think Santa is different to every person the way God is different to every person. My Santa doesn’t have a naughty list. My Santa is like the one in the film A Miracle on 34th Street. He’s kind, and smart, and good, and very, very real. He’s like a very intelligent and benevolent granddad who only wants the best for everyone, and has no ego of his own. I love that guy.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

I guess the worst, if you could call it that, are sweet food gifts. Not because I don’t welcome the sentiment and the thought, or even the gifts themselves. It’s just that in the holiday season, there’s so very much of this type of goodie that it almost ceases to be special. I’m almost jealous of people in the olden days who truly got excited about a Christmas cake, the occasional mince pie, and oranges and nuts in the toe of a stocking because they were so rare. It’s like I tell my kids, “If everything is special, then nothing is.” 

Best? Time with people. Honestly, I’d rather have the undivided attention of my friends and family than anything I can unwrap. We’re all so busy with working from home, and screen time, and trying to do things better. Downtime is sacred. Unhurried conversations make me so happy. And if someone really wants to get me something… I wouldn’t say no to gift certificates for spa massages and mani/pedis, or promises of boozy lunches. 

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Let it Snow! It’s because of what I’ve just said. Nothing could be better than to be ‘forced’ to stay put in front of a fire with some drinks and lovely food and good company. Resting, enjoying, and sharing company are what the season is about for me. 

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

I love The Bishop’s Wife with Cary Grant, David Niven, and Loretta Young. It’s so poignant and complicated, and it boldly examines marriage and what women’s lives are like. It’s funny, too, which I love. And the ending isn’t pat. I don’t know why it’s not ranked up there with It’s a Wonderful Life. 

8) Top 3 books that you're giving as Christmas presents?

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes because it’s just really, really, really good.

Debbie Johnson’s Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Jumper to all my Rom Com/Anglophile friends because it’s festive and English.

The Husband’s Secret by Liane Moriarty because wow. It’s funny and dark and scary and layered. I’m in awe. 

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Most favorite: Relaxing and laughing with friends and family without any pressure to do anything else or be anywhere else.

Least favorite: Cleaning the house for guests. I’m the worst housekeeper, ever. 

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10) I must ask, sorry - the best Christmas food is…?

In England: Tiny mince pies. Bonus if they’re warm and are served with Stilton cheese. 

In America: Really buttery homemade cut-out Christmas cookies with glazed icing. They are so special and rare.

11) Do you perhaps know what's your Christmas gift is going to be?

So far, I’ve asked for a sea salt mill. I have high hopes that it could happen.


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One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive paperback copies of the fabulous Christmas at Thornton Hall and the amazing A Miracle at Macy's. Good luck!

Dec 1, 2015

Australia Days Guest Post: Lady Godiva: Superhero by Eliza Redgold! & Giveaway

Lady Godiva: Superhero

This post comes to us from Eliza Redgold, author, academic and unashamed romantic. Naked: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released by St Martin’s Press, New York in 2015.

Hawk high I lifted my head. No shame now. Only pride in being the lady of such a people. My Saxon people, who loved justice, had observed a greater law. Not a law handed down from above but a law risen up from their hearts.

Another gust of wind lifted the veil of my hair. This time no fear pricked my skin, no trepidation trickled down my spine … In a surge of elation I lifted my arms into wings, my hair a banner unfurled.

Quote from NAKED

Batman. Superman. Wonder Woman. We might think superheroes are a recent invention. Long before Batman donned his mask, Superman took to the skies, or Wonder Woman put us all in a spin there was: Godiva.

The legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry covered only by her long, flowing hair, has lasted for centuries. But does she make superhero status?

Hold on to your cape. All (and I mean all) shall be revealed.

Godiva: Daring Do-Gooder

Lady Godiva was an eleventh century do-gooder of the most daring kind. So the story goes, she begged her husband, Lord Leofric of Mercia, to lift a high tax on her people, who would starve if they were forced to pay. Lord Leofric demanded a forfeit: that Godiva ride naked on horseback through the town. 

Some historians call the ride a myth, but there’s no doubt that Lady Godiva was a real person called Countess Godgyfu who lived in eleventh-century England. Ancient records also reveal Godiva was a genuine philanthropist. She supported monasteries, built abbeys and churches, and aided the poor. The original cathedral in Coventry was founded by Lady Godiva.

Godiva’s Secret Super-Powers

Do you remember where Wonder Woman came from? She hails from Paradise Island, inhabited by ageless Amazons. The Amazon Princess Diana visits earth and become Diana Prince. When danger or injustice threatens, Diana releases her super powers. In a swirl she becomes Wonder Woman, with magical skills of strength, protection and insight, provided by her golden belt, bullet-deflecting bracelets and golden lasso. In the original TV transformation sequence, the camera focuses on Diana Prince’s hair falling loose as she transitions to Wonder Woman.

Similar mythology swirls around Godiva. Just like superheroes Wonder Woman (Diana Prince) Superman (Clark Kent) and Batman (Bruce Wayne) Godiva’s true identity acquired an earthly counterpart. In ancient history Godiva’s tale was connected to Greek and Celtic myths, including myth surrounding a goddess known as Goda. As her story gained vogue in the Middle Ages Goda’s tale became intertwined with the real and genuinely philanthropic Countess Godgyfu. 

Godiva’s story also became linked to St Agnes. The beautiful Agnes was forced to walk naked through the town as a punishment for refusing to give up her faith. Agnes’s hair miraculously grew long enough to cover her, and such a bright angelic light surrounded her that no man could see her. The stories of Goda, St Agnes and Godiva are clearly of the same supernatural family.

Godiva: The Original Caped Crusader

Forget Batman’s hood, Superman’s cape or Wonder Woman’s leotard. Forget having to find the Batcave or a phone box. With only a living cape of supernaturally long locks to cover her, Godiva must take the prize for most awesome adventurer’s attire. 
While riding nude is something many 21st century women might baulk at, even for charity - calendar girls aside, Lady Godiva certainly deserves credit as a heroine. In a single leap, Godiva’s ride takes her into a higher dimension. Her courage continues to inspire, her tale to be told, even after a thousand years.

We Need another Superhero 

The legend of Lady Godiva has stood the test of time. Larger than life, she meets the essential elements of superhero-status as a do-gooder, supernaturally connected, and a crusader. 
Godiva is more than a naked lady. Like the best superheroes, Godiva has always answered our call, and rides again.

Eliza Redgold’s NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva reclaims Godiva as a heroine for today. In her academic work as Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd she has researched Lady Godiva in history and popularculture.

NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva is available in all good bookstores and online.

Follow Eliza Redgold on 

Twitter: @ElizaRedgold 

or subscribe to her newsletter at

Eliza Redgold: Biography

ELIZA REDGOLD is an author, academic and unashamed romantic. She writes historical fiction (St Martin’s Press) and romance (Harlequin).

NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva was released internationally by St Martin’s Press


One very lucky reader of my blog will receive a paperback copy of Naked via The Bookdepository. Good luck!

Australia Days Book Review: A Distant Voice by Bridie Blake

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Review by Anniek

Violet Hayes struggles through life. Her father walked out on her leaving her to deal with her mom and her sister Rose all alone. Ever since her father left her mom is not leaving her bed, let alone the house and Rose mostly doesn't even leave her room. They pack up their stuff to live with her grandmother Iris in a small town called Wandorah.

Iris O'Connor once was a very famous singer but her career went out like a flame after a performance that went bad. Violet has a lot to deal with. Her mother is depressed and her sister Rose wants her all for herself. This results in Violet pulling back from the rest of the world. She doesn't think she needs or deserves friends. Happiness isn't in her cards either so she pretty much keeps to herself. Unlucky for her, Wandorah has some great residents who are not willing to let Violet fade into the background.

Sometimes you read a book that you feel all the way to the middle of your heart. A Distant Voice is one of those books. Violet is beating herself up for the tragedies that happened which she could do nothing about. She feels selfish and puts herself aside for her family members who need her. I felt for her! Such a young girl who has to endure so much. I was rooting for her to find her own voice again and to understand that she can be who she wants to be without feeling guilty.

Some of the events in this story were really difficult for me to read about because they hit very close to home. I never saw the ending coming. It surprised me and brought me to tears. I finished this book literally with tears in my eyes. Bridie Blake did an amazing job with making the reader feel the emotions and she doesn't shy away from difficult subjects. This is an author I will keep following and I am really looking forward to be drawn into her world again.


One very lucky reader of this blog will receive a kindle copy of A Distant Voice. Good luck!

I will contact the winner via e-mail. If I don't get a reply within 60 hours the prize will go to someone else. All of my giveaways are international, you can find the official rules here.

Agi & Suze's Christmas Countdown: Interview With Samantha Tonge + Signed Book Giveaway


1) What's your best Christmas memory?

Watching the children open their presents when they were small, their faces lighting up – nothing quite beats those magical moments.

2) What are your 3 favourite Christmas reads?

I loved Christmas at the Gingerbread Cafe by Rebecca Raisin, she creates such a cosy set of characters... but I really haven’t read much festive fiction over the last year or two, as December is the one time of year, more than any, that I don’t do much reading - I am so busy promoting my own Christmas book and then things get busy with preparing my family celebrations. 

3) If you could choose one person, dead or alive, to celebrate a one time special Christmas with, who would you choose and why?

It would be my mum who passed away over ten years ago. I miss her every day and wish she could have seen me become a published author. I would love to talk to her about the children, to hear her laugh one more time and, more importantly then anything, enjoy one of her very special hugs.

4) What are your thoughts about Santa?

I think Santa is a very hardworking, selfless, cheery, thoughtful person who can teach us all a lot about Christmas spirit and how we should try to carry it thought the whole year.

5) What are your best and worst Christmas gifts and why?

Best? Just to have a few chilled, quality days with my family – we are all so madly busy the rest of the year it is great to spend a lot of relaxed time together.

Worst? Bailey’s Cream. I was once VERY ILL after drinking a little too much of it ☺

6) Your favourite Christmas song?

Anything by Michael BublĂ© – he has such a smooth voice.

7) Your favourite Christmas movie?

It’s not strictly Christmas but can I have New Year’s Eve with Ashton Kutcher and Zac Efron? The stories within it are soooo romantic and heart-warming.

8) Top 3 books that you're giving as Christmas presents?

Ooh, if I had to choose 3 top books it would be The Fault in Our Stars, Twilight and something by Lucy Diamond!

9) Most favourite and least favourite part of Christmas?

Favourite? That full, after-dinner feeling when you have eaten lunch, the hard-work and preparation is done and everyone can just sit down, chill, watch telly, play board games or chat. Heaven.

10) I must ask, sorry - the best Christmas food is...?

Please don’t ever apologise to me for talking about food ☺ Even though I am, at heart, a chocoholic, the best Christmas food for me is a cold turkey and stuffing sandwich, accompanied by a glass of chilled white wine. Yum. I cannot wait!!

About Samantha Tonge


Samantha Tonge lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat that thinks it’s a dog. When not writing, she spends her days cycling and willing cakes to rise. She has sold over 80 short stories to women’s magazines. Her bestselling debut novel, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award in 2014. Her summer 2015 novel Game of Scones hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart. 


Things don’t always run smoothly in the game of love…

As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex’s engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she’s hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life – the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be…a fishwife?
There’s nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere in amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she’s sure she’ll come to the right decision about where she belongs…hopefully in time for the wedding…

Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Debbie Johnson. Don’t miss the Christmas Wedding of the year!


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One very lucky reader of our blogs will receive a fantastic prize:

A signed copy of Mistletoe Mansion will be for the winner of this giveaway. Good luck!

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