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White Cliff Bay #1

Christmas at Lilac Cottage

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Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

Like a creamy hot chocolate with marshmallows, you won’t want to put this deliciously heartwarming novel down.

Spend the perfect Christmas in White Cliff Bay this year. Snowflakes on Silver Cove coming very soon.

350 pages, Kindle Edition

First published September 25, 2015

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About the author

Holly Martin

57 books1,256 followers
Holly lives in a little white cottage by the sea. 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 8 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 with her novel The Guestbook. She was shortlisted for Best Romantic Read, Best eBook and Innovation in Romantic Fiction at the Festival of Romance. She is the bestselling author of 26 books selling over a million books worldwide. Holly's books have been translated into French, German, Italian, Dutch, Bulgarian, Estonian, Turkish and Russian.

Follow her on Twitter @HollyMAuthor

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5 stars
1,898 (38%)
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3 stars
976 (19%)
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134 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 552 reviews
Profile Image for The Sassy Bookworm.
3,370 reviews2,307 followers
October 19, 2016


Penny Meadows loves her home in White Cliff Bay. She loves her job as an ice carver. She loves her little lilac cottage, but she finds herself stuck in life. All her friends are getting married and starting families. When she rents out her annex she hopes to make the married couple feel welcome and maybe make some friends in return.

Imagine her surprise when that married couple turns out to be a smokin hot single dad with a teenage daughter.


This is a confusing review for me to write to be honest. I enjoyed this one, but at the same time I didn't. If that makes sense? The first half of the book was wonderful. I LOVE Penny, in fact I loved her through the whole book. At first I thought Henry was going to be this gruff curmudgeonly old guy because the first impression of him isn't great. Luckly he apologizes quickly and we move on from there. I loved the small town feel and the festive setting of the book. It had great secondary characters as well as well as some laugh out loud moments.

Which leads me to some of the issues I had with it. Both Penny and Henry sound at least 10 years older then they are. At the start I thought Penny was in her late 30's (she's 29) and Henry was in his 40's (he's 32). Also, about half way through I started to get sick of Daisy (Henry's daughter) she wasn't a bad character. I just got sick of everyone being ALL about Daisy. Henry basically plans his EVERY move around his 16 year old daughter. I could have accepted that had she been 8, but she is a 16 year old.


He doesn't want to hurt Daisy, so he can't have anything permanent. Then Daisy tells him not to "date" Penny and he agrees. THEN he starts dating Penny on the sly, and tells her they have to keep it a secret from Daisy so as not to hurt her. Going so far as to stuff Penny in a closet the night after they have sex for the first time when Daisy shows up unexpectedly. I wanted Henry to have some damn balls and stop letting how Daisy would react dictate EVERYTHING.

I also thought the last half of the book dragged a lot. There were things I thought were out of place in the story. Like the whole Clara "sexual harassment" storyline which added nothing to the overall plot of the book. No drama within the couple, really no drama for Henry either as it was all resolved without any mess. Some of the ice carver stuff didn't add anything to the book and "I" felt took away from couple time between the H/h.

So overall, loved the first half of the book. Wish the second half had been tightened up a bit plot wise. So a "down the middle" 3 stars from yours truly.


Profile Image for Claire.
2,308 reviews702 followers
December 13, 2015
3 - Everyone had someone. Stars.

This is a hard review to write in a way. Mainly because I absolutely adore all of the previous books I have read by this author. They are always well written, quirky, massively entertaining and just a little bit different. And although this book offered most of the above it was missing that little spark that I associate with Holly's writing, storytelling and characterization.

Another small niggle for me was the mad rush of emotions Henry and Penny seemed to go through with each other at the beginning and at points through the book, especially as I struggled to actually feel any real established connection between them for most of the story.

I liked the setting and the introduction to a lot of the characters living in and around White Cliff Bay, but I normally struggle to put a book down by this author, and this time that anticipation just didn't seem to be there.

It is still an enjoyable read, I guess I just have extremely high expectations when it comes to Holly Martin's writing, and this book didn't quite hit the mark for me on this occasion.

ARC generously provided via Netgalley, in exchange for the above honest review.
Profile Image for Nicola.
1,393 reviews244 followers
December 14, 2017
3.5 Stars.

🎼🎶 Deck the halls with boughs of holly fa la la la la la la la la.
Single dads they make me jolly fa la la la la la la la laaaaaaaaa 🎶

All very insta on the lovin’ and was a tad on the predictable side, but with an endearing bunch of characters and plenty of humour and festive flirting, it was an enjoyable visit to White Cliff Bay.

description I didn’t realise cake was the international sign language for I want to get you into bed.”

Profile Image for Sue.
2,691 reviews170 followers
January 1, 2016

You just have to make time for at least one Christmas book don't you? I made room for 3 this year and this book is one of a series.

This kicks off very well.

We meet Penny, all is well in her world, she lives in a lovely little cottage, all christmassy with fairy lights around the door. A smashing view of White Cliff Bay.
Her job is sculpturing lovely things from ice. She loves what she does and has a great talent for it.

Next to her cottage is an annex which she rents out. She has rented it to Henry and his daughter Daisy.

Penny finds Daisy open and nice to talk to. Easy going but her Father Henry seems like a closed book.
Just like chiseling away at her ice, should she chisel away at Henry's block of ice that seems to surround him.

But Henry isn't the only one with an iced heart, Penny keeps hers guarded too.

Coming up is the sculpture ice competition which Penny is so looking forward to.

This has started out a lovely sweet story, which may be predictable in some ways, but it is it full of Christmas joy and love.

I can't wait to go onto book 2 in this series.

* Thank you to Bookouture via Net Galley for copy*
and to the author Holly Martin.
Profile Image for Norah Una Sumner.
851 reviews446 followers
January 3, 2016
"She remembered the wish she had made on the shooting star the year before and smiled knowing that every wish she'd ever made had finally come true."


"Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?"


This chick-lit is so much more serious and interesting than it seems.I really enjoyed reading about Penny & Henry,I love that there are dual POVs so that we can get to know both of them.There are so many funny scenes like but also some very heart-breaking and ...well,fierce moments .BAD-ASS LADY ALERT.The writing is really good,the setting is very unique and the characters are so real and relatable.I'll be definitely reading more books by Holly Martin.


*E-copy provided by the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review via Netgalley.*
Profile Image for Louise Wilson.
2,754 reviews1,617 followers
October 14, 2016
Penny Meadows loves her cosy cottage that she's decorated with fairy lights and the stunning views over White Cliff Bay. She is an ice-carver making breathtaking sculptures.

When Henry and his daughter Daisy arrive at her cottage to rent her annex Penny does all she can do to make them feel welcome. As she gets to know Henry she realises they have a strong connection that's hard to ignore. Will this be the perfect Christmas Penny has always dreamed off.

A heartwarming Christmas love story. An enjoyable read to make you feel good in the dark cold nights.

I would like to thank NetGalley, Bonnier Publishing and the author Holly Martin for my ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Elaine.
482 reviews73 followers
November 12, 2015
4 Curl Up In Front Of A Log Fire Stars

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What a perfect story to curl up in front of a log fire to read and just before Christmas

Penny Meadows lives alone in her pretty cottage in White Cliff Bay, although she loves her job as an ice sculpture her life is quite a lonely one.
When she decides to rent out her annexe, for company, Henry and Daisy arrive. After a misunderstanding Penny is thrilled with her new guests.

Henry isn't looking for a serious relationship but there's something about Penny he can't get out of his mind.

Penny's been hurt before and she's wary about getting involved with anyone again.
But with Henry living next door can they just stay friends?

As friends and family seem to want to protect them from a relationship, Penny and Henry face a rocky ride ahead.

You can’t expect me to not have a relationship ever again.
"I can expect you not to get involved with the type of person who lets you shag them across the breakfast table in the middle of the day."

Penny let out a bark of a laugh and Henry looked down at her in confusion. ‘I’m sorry, but I’m not worthy enough for him because we were about to have sex on the kitchen table? In my own home? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.

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Well I really enjoyed this warm tale of love and what a better way to find it just before Christmas.
It was sweet and sexy with lots of humour especially when things don't always go to plan and so very different from my usual reads.


Penny stepped back to admire their handiwork. It was garish and messy and fanciful and silly and the best Christmas tree Penny had ever seen.

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I'm going to look out more from Holly Martin as this story warmed me up inside as Christmas approaches..........

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***ARC provided by Netgalley in return for an honest review***
Profile Image for Bookread2day.
2,237 reviews63 followers
May 11, 2019
Order your copy now from Bonnier Zaffre . This is a very pretty silver sparkling cover with a one of the best romantic stories that I have ever read. It really is a page turner with lines that made me smile, laugh and had me in tears. I just never knew what a fantastic author Holly Martin was until I read Christmas at Lilac Cottage. I am now following Holly on Goodreads. I would one hundred percent read another paperback book by Holly Martin.
The story is about Penny Meadows who's parents emigrated to Italy and left her the cosy Lilac cottage with an annexe in the town of White Cliff Bay. Penny who is an ice carver for weddings, parties and business functions is rather lonely. She decided to rent out her annexe as she thought that this would be a good idea to make some new friends. When she is told that Henry and Daisy Travis will be renting her annexe she is pleased, but didn't really want a married couple. Henry was a beautiful man. Penny knew that she must not get too cosy with Henry. It appears that Penny assumed wrong and that Daisy was in fact Henry's daughter. But the question is. Is the dashing good looking Henry a free man? Please buy this book either for your self or for a friend or your mother. I can guarantee everyone will adore it.
Profile Image for Cora Tea Party Princess.
1,323 reviews802 followers
November 30, 2015
5 Words: Christmas, love, loss, family, community.

This story takes a well used trope and adds in some extra sweet treats in a lovely festive setting.

I found the story itself just a bit too predictable, but I did like the community spirit and the artisan workers and the cast of characters.

When I first started, the main character felt about 10 years older than what she was. It took a while for me to settle in to the story, it seemed to ramble on a little before the plot was established. But once I was into it I found it hard to put down. I wanted to learn more about White Cliff Bay.

It's a simple festive romance that ticks all of the right boxes. It wasn't spectacular, but it wasn't bad. There was drama, attraction, a sprinkling of heartwarming do-gooders... Very enjoyable.

I received a copy of this for free via NetGalley for review purposes.
Profile Image for Carla.
5,947 reviews128 followers
October 17, 2018
I love books by Holly Martin, and this one did not disappoint. Penny is a damaged woman, one who has been holed up for eight years in Lilac Cottage after a devastating experience. She is not looking for a man, she is looking for friends and is hoping that Henry and his wife Daisy will fit the bill. When Penny is your friend, she goes out of her way to help and care about you. When we first meet Henry, I thought he was a miserable, uptight snob, but when we got to know him, how wrong I was. Daisy, it turns out, it not his wife and that changes Penny's hope for a friendly couple living in her annex. I do not want to give away anymore of the story, but suffice it to say that Henry and Penny will get their Happily Ever After. I loved the small town of White Cliff Bay. There were some great secondary characters who added so much to the story. As well, the festival and Christmas Spirit got me in the mood for Christmas, even though it is still two months away. I devoured Henry's and Penny's story in one day and am ready to continue the White Cliff Bay series with the next book, Snowflakes on Silver Cove. I can't wait to read more by this wonderful and funny author. I definitely recommend this to anyone who loves a feel good Christmas Romance.
Profile Image for Maxine (Booklover Catlady).
1,305 reviews1,235 followers
November 18, 2016
This was a cutesy Christmas read. I found elements of it really fun yet on the other hand found somethings a bit drab. The insta-attraction between the two main characters very early in the book is ridiculously quick and I think the book would have been better with a bit more build up. Just my thoughts.

I don't mind a good light read but this one for me just fell a bit flat, it was a tad slow and drawn out in places and it took me a while to get into the whole story. The characters did grow on me over time which redeemed it somewhat. It was an okay read that might be really enjoyed by others. 3 stars.

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Profile Image for Ana.
501 reviews347 followers
November 24, 2015

Originally posted on This Chick Reads

* Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *

In a short time span of just couple of years, Holly Martin has managed to write so many novels, successfully switching from fantasy, to contemporary romance then to chick lit. In just two months, she's releasing two Christmas novels which are parts of the White Cliff Bay Series.

'Christmas at Lilac Cottage' is the first one in the series and is such a charming, cute read. It follows the story of Penny who's an ice carver and is living alone in a cosy cottage in the picturesque White Cliff Bay. She's single by choice, as she hasn't had much luck in love. Her previous relationship ended up bad and got her so hurt, she's very afraid of committing again. Henry and Daisy are arriving at White Cliff Bay, renting the annex of Penny's cottage. There are immediate sparkles between Henry and Penny, but it's not just Penny who's been hurt terribly in the past. Henry was too, and really really bad. Is there a chance the magic of Christmas will touch them both? As always in fiction, everything is possible at Christmas time.

'Christmas at Lilac Cottage' was a very fast read for me. It is bit more than 200 pages and Ms Martin's writing is so easy to understand you'll be flying through it. I liked Penny from the very beginning, she seems as someone fragile, but also as someone who'd do anything for a loved one or a friend. She's such a nice girl, the one everyone would like to hang out with. I loved the fact she's an ice carver, creating these beautiful ice sculptures and showing Daisy how to make one herself. Henry seemed very uptight at the beginning, but very soon I got totally in love with him. He's one of these protective, but not too protective or obsessive men who'd be an ideal partner for Penny.

As always when it comes to Ms Martin's romances, the romance was sweet but not cheesy, which I seriously respect. There's a lot of banter between Henry and Penny and sometimes they seemed like little kids, trying to decide what actually is going on between them and what do they want for their future. They are drawn to each other right from the very beginning, which is something I usually dislike in a book, but now I realize it's not the insta-love I have trouble with but with the author's writing style. Obviously, in this case as it was so sweet and beautifully described, the insta-love was not giving me that much trouble. At times though I wanted to give them both a good shake and make them smell the coffee, as there was a lot of cat-mouse chase. It's like everyone around them could see their chemistry but they were so insecure and afraid to make something more out of their relationship.

Anyway, one of the best things about reading a Christmassy book is feeling that Christmas cheerful spirit, which this book definitely brings. I adored the setting, could smell the sea and see Penny and Henry having fun at the rink.

Overall this was such a delightful read and one I certainly recommend to everyone in good of good Christmas story and sweet romance. Beautiful setting and characters you'll root for, 'Christmas at Lilac Cottage' is definitely a must read for the holiday season. Once again Ms Martin manages to deliver and create a beautiful, charming, modern love story with unique and lovable characters that will stay with you for a long time.
December 5, 2019
Christmas 2019 - Nice!

This was cheesy, silly, formulaic and set in a quirky Small Town, as all Christmas romances must be by law. I can't put my finger on why this is okay with me in some instances, and why I can't get past the first few pages in others. In this case, I really enjoyed it.

The premise: lonely Penny has been Really Hurt in the past and has given up on love. She rents the annex of her cottage (I'm not even sure what that means) to a couple, Daisy and Henry, hoping to make new friends and maybe have someone to hang out with. This couple changes her life in a way she never expected.

The characters, although they don't behave like any actual humans ever have, were really likable and I rooted for them. I liked the ice carving details although I remain skeptical that anyone could make a living from it. The one thing that was a real problem with this book was the constant repetition of points that had already been made many times - an obvious way to pad the page count when the plot is a little thin. And there was a ludicrous subplot involving sexual harassment that had me snickering, it seemed to be lifted from one of the daytime soaps, circa 1983. Scrooge-y comments are now out of the way.

So this is obviously not a rave review but the novel delivers what it promises, a cozy romance to cure up with in front of a fire.

Profile Image for Laura.
339 reviews67 followers
December 18, 2017
‚Weihnachtsküsse in White Cliff Bay‘ spielt in einer Kleinstadt und wir begleiten Penny, die beruflich Eisfiguren schnitzt. Penny hat vor einigen Jahren eine sehr schlechte Erfahrung mit einem Mann gemacht und ist seit dem Single. Sie versucht sich einzureden, dass sie trotzdem recht zufrieden mit ihrem Leben ist, jedoch wünscht sie sich insgeheim doch einen netten Mann an ihrer Seite. Penny wird als eine sehr herzensgute und offene Frau dargestellt, die einem offensichtlich sympathisch sein soll.

Henry ist neu nach White Cliff Bay gezogen und zieht in eine Wohnung in Pennys Haus. Beide sind sich zunächst nicht ganz grün, zumindest Henry steht Pennys Freundlichkeiten erstmal abweisend gegenüber.

Ich muss sagen, dass mir beide Hauptcharaktere nicht die liebsten waren. Beide haben teilweise auf Situationen derart komisch reagiert, dass ich nicht warm wurde mit ihnen. Als beispielsweise Henry in die Mietwohnung in Pennys Haus zog, war diese extrem enttäuscht darüber, dass Henry seine eigene Haustür nutzen wollte, statt durch ihre Küche ein und aus zu gehen. Und, oh Schreck – Henry stellte auch noch demonstrativ ein Möbelstück vor die Verbindungstür, von der Penny dachte, dass diese nun tagtäglich offen stünde. Für mich absolut unverständlich was Penny da für Erwartungen an den Tag gelegt hat.

Auch insgesamt muss ich sagen, dass sich eigentlich die ganze Story des Buches erübrigt hätte, wenn die beiden Hauptfiguren sich einfach mal wie normal denkende Erwachsene verhalten hätten. Allerdings hatte ich generell keine großen Ansprüche an die Geschichte. Ich wollte ein kurzweiliges Weihnachtsbuch mit ein bisschen Kitsch lesen und genau das habe ich hier bekommen.

Man kommt wunderbar durch die Seiten und wird nett unterhalten von der Story und den Figuren. Auch wenn ich die Hauptfiguren selbst nicht so toll fand, so war das Setting schon etwas erfreulicher. Hier wurde in Grundzügen versucht eine charmante Kleinstadt wie Stars Hollow aus Gilmore Girls zu schaffen, was zwar nur bruchstückhaft gelungen ist, aber eine nette Auflockerung war.
Profile Image for Jess.
512 reviews80 followers
December 16, 2015
I received an eARC of Christmas at Lilac Cottage from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Sadly I only got about 10% of the way through this before I had to DNF it. It's far too instalovey and, though I hate to say it, I don't think it's been written very well; I was hoping for something that would fill me with the warm fuzzies in the way Love Actually and The Holiday do, but this book is a bit of a hot mess.
Profile Image for Carolyn M L.
283 reviews
September 5, 2015
4.5 stars

Thank you to NetGalley, the author, Holly Martin and the publisher, for an ARC in return for an honest review.

Welcome to the charming seaside town of White Cliff Bay, where Christmas is magical and love is in the air…

Penny Meadows loves her home – a cosy cottage decorated with pretty twinkling fairy lights and stunning views over the town of White Cliff Bay. She also loves her job as an ice-carver, creating breathtaking sculptures. Yet her personal life seems frozen.

When Henry and daughter Daisy arrive at the cottage to rent the annex, Penny is determined to make them feel welcome. But while Daisy is friendly, Henry seems guarded.

As Penny gets to know Henry, she realises there is more to him than meets the eye. And the connection between them is too strong to ignore…

While the spirit of the season sprinkles its magic over the seaside town and preparations for the ice sculpting competition and Christmas eve ball are in full swing, can Penny melt the ice and allow love in her heart? And will this finally be the perfect Christmas she’s been dreaming of?

If anyone had told me that I'd be reading a Christmas themed book in August, I would have laughed them out of my life - with a few choice words no doubt. Who wants to be thinking about Christmas in August?!

However, the unthinkable happened, and when my Twitter feed started showing these wonderfully colourful and animated GIFs depicting a book by Holly Martin called 'Christmas At Lilac Cottage'. I was immediately drawn to them, scrambling to find out who this author was, and more importantly, where I could get a hold of this book.

I loved this book, I really did. I literally devoured it in one sitting; the story flowed so well. I got caught up in the blossoming romance between Penny and the devastatingly gorgeous Henry. I loved the character of Penny, who is so warm and kind, that it’s really quite difficult not to love her. The characters were a great mix all round, with just the right amount of humour thrown in to elicit a good few giggles along the way.

This book was very well written indeed. It’s the first time I’ve ever encountered Holly Martin, but it definitely won’t be the last. A book absolutely bulging at the seams with feel good factor, it’s actually gone a long way to preparing me for a season I normally face with dread and some amount of anguish. Romance is not usually a genre that I would choose to read, but this book seemed to have a little of everything else, which balanced it out very nicely.

A highly enjoyable and recommended read.
Profile Image for Nicola Clough.
877 reviews32 followers
January 8, 2019
So loved this brilliant simply brilliant and so enjoyable from the first page. The characters are very good and the plot is brilliant and didn't want it to end. So engrossed and just didn't want to put the book down. Worth far more than five stars as so good. Full of romance and being happy in yourself.
Penny has always lived in lilac cottage with stunning views but her parents have moved abroad and she decides to rent out the small annex she has. She has had a very bad past relationship and frozen herself against men but when Henry and daughter daisy turn up to rent her annex her heart seems to change as she falls for him straight away. It's full of the Christmas season and will she learn to trust him him and be happy and fall in love and be happy or do events change that makes her unhappy can she work through that or not.
Full of Christmas to.
Profile Image for Ivy.
957 reviews52 followers
December 9, 2018
Ein bisschen kitschig, ein bisschen dramatisch und sehr weihnachtlich.
White Cliff Bay bietet als typische Kleinstadt ein schönes Setting und tolle Atmosphäre.

Die Charaktere sind alle sympathisch, Penny und Henry als Hauptfiguren auch, vor allem die offene Art, nur nervt der Umgang mit Daisy doch sehr.
Dazu wird das Ganze irgendwann zur Dauerschleife derselben Gedanken, was die Story zum Ende hin immer mehr gekünstelt wirken lässt. Da hätte es gerne um ein paar Szenen kürzer sein können.

Alles in allem ist die Story aber schön geschrieben, unterhaltsam und frech. Dazu einfach ein bisschen anders. Und das Cover ist genau richtig.
Alles was eine Weihnachtsstory braucht.
Profile Image for Karen.
879 reviews477 followers
November 8, 2016
Holly Martin is an author whose books I keep buying but never actually getting around to reading – until now. I know that the ebook of this was originally published by Bookoutre last year but when Bonnier Zaffre sent me an unexpected book parcel, this looked just too pretty to leave on the shelf for a later date. The cover picture really doesn’t do it justice – its sparkly and shiny – just what you would want for a Christmas read.

Penny Meadows works from home as an ice sculptor, rather an unusual occupation but a very interesting one – I was fascinated to learn how sculptures are made although I don’t think I will be taking up the art anytime soon. (I don’t like the cold and Penny often works in a walk in freezer!). She has canine company provided by the lumbering Bernard but she still seems rather a lonely figure and when the rental agency find her tenants to rent the annex to her house, she is delighted, expecting a married couple that she can have the odd meal with or just share a bottle of wine and some conversation. When Henry Travis, a rather grumpy man arrives on his own, she is just a little disappointed. They do get off on slightly the wrong foot when Penny mistakes Henry’s 16 year old daughter Daisy for his wife and lets him know EXACTLY what she thinks of him!

Despite his initial grumpiness, Henry soon reveals another side which Penny finds extremely attractive. The only problem is Daisy. Henry is a single dad, having brought up his baby daughter alone – both he and Daisy have been badly hurt in the past and as much as Henry fancies Penny, his main priority is Daisy and her happiness. Penny has also had her heart broken and is rather fragile emotionally but will Henry’s good looks and flirtatious manner mean more heartbreak for her?

I flew through this book in a couple of days. It is a really lovely story with light and shade. You have sizzling romance (very HOT romance at times by the way!) and humour mixed with the darker side of workplace bullying and heartbreak and the way that Holly brings her characters to life made this book a pleasure to read. 16 year old Daisy was a delight, not at all the spoilt child I was expecting and I rather fell a little in love with Henry myself!

The setting of White Cliff Bay is also rather lovely – the isolation of Penny’s House, overlooking the sea and the village itself, where everyone seems to know everything about each other’s lives – I would call them busybodies but they are people with a good heart and always ready to help out if needed. The telephone tree being a perfect example.

I always thought that Holly Martin wrote books that I would like to read and after enjoying this one, I will certainly be making more of an effort to read her others. She really is an excellent storyteller. This is definitely one to put on your Christmas reading list – it will bring a smile to your face and put you in the Christmas spirit.

I have just bought book 2 in the White Cliff series – ‘Snowflakes on Silver Cove’. I am very much looking forward to returning to White Cliff Bay again.
Profile Image for Trish at Between My Lines.
1,049 reviews292 followers
June 9, 2016
This review was originally posted on [Between My Lines]Twitteresque reviews are for books where I don’t feel like writing a full review but I want to give you a flavour of how I felt during the book.  All in 140 characters or less!




Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin


Very cute, full of Christmas cheer and a whole village cast of zany, nosey but loveable characters!  Perfect for you want a feel good read and not just for Christmas!


House of Dreams by Fanny Blake


A character driven satisfying read, if a little slow.  I enjoyed the  ‘present is everything’ theme  and despite being about a memorial service, it is full of life.

The Good Girl by Mary Kubica


I expected more. It took me 6 weeks read as I never felt gripped by the characters or the story. The writing is good, the various voices authentic but it just never wowed.


Talk to TrishHave you read any of these and what did you think of them? Are there any that you are interested in reading? 
Profile Image for Claudia García.
200 reviews18 followers
August 29, 2016

DNF at 80%

I tried, but I just can't take it anymore. I really really wanted to like this book, because I like romance novels, I love chick lit, and I truly adore everything Christmas related, but clearly Christmas at Lilac Cottage it's not for me.
Let's make this quick:

- There's instalove in the second chapter. IN THE SECOND CHAPTER.

- This is a short romance novel, so I suppose I could forgive that instalove, but, the main characters were considering MARRIAGE after FIVE DAYS of knowing each other. Just what?!!?!

- There is no plot. Really. Nothing happens, and I read 80% of the book. It's just the life of this people the days before Christmas day. In other circunstances, this would be ok, but the author tries to create problems where there isn't just to mantain some interest, and it's pretty boring.

- Christmas at Lilac Cottage try to touch sensible topics, but not in a deep way, and this provoke weird moments where the characters become inconsistent. This is special notable in Daisy, the daughter of Henry, the male protagonist, who has a lot of problems because of bullyng and her lack of self-confidence because of her family story, but in the other hand she is perfectly fine dating a teenager in secret and gossiping about the main character, ridiculing a secondary character. And after that, results she is afraid of darkness, making Henry and Penny freak out and go running to "save her" of an electricity cut. Cute right? Maybe for a ten years old. She is sixteen. Enough said.

In the end, I just can't bring myself to care about what happens to this characters in the end of the book. Pity :(
Profile Image for Angie.
329 reviews158 followers
February 13, 2016
This was actually so bad that I returned it to Amazon to get my $3 back. Things you can expect: Generic repetitive writing. Insta-love. An MC so stupid she assumes that her new tenant is married to a 16 year old (who happens to be his daughter) because the agency who rented out her annex never specified whether the people moving in were a couple or not and freaks out on him causing some ridiculously contrived drama. A group of bleached blonde mean girls that the MC and her friends refer to as the blonde bimbos. Oh and the MC is shamed for being 29 and not having kids. Basically this is the worst.
Profile Image for Jessica (Jess Hearts Books).
679 reviews388 followers
November 11, 2015
Christmas at Lilac Cottage was my first Christmas read of 2015 and was a great way to kick off my festive reading giving me everything I could want in a cute, cosy, Christmas story. This book made me laugh out loud and gave me the warm fuzzies when I was only a few chapters in which is always a good sign!

The book follows Penny, a lovely woman with a tragic past who is facing another Christmas alone in her lilac cottage in the seaside town of White Cliff Bay. Penny is lonely and looking for a bit of companionship and so she rents out her annex to Henry and his teenage daughter Daisy for Christmas in the hope of making friends. But Christmas is a magical time of year, and if Penny and Henry can let go of the ghosts of their past, love might be in the air.

I absolutely loved Penny, Henry and Daisy - they were each such warm, lovable characters that you wanted the best for especially after the heartache of their pasts. They really delivered a wonderful message about family which is especially important at Christmas time.

I also loved how this book was festive from beginning to end. The book radiated Christmas from the small things like Penny’s cosy little cottage to bigger things such as the ice carving contest. You truly get in the festive mood whilst reading this book.

The romance between Penny and Henry was the perfect balance of sweet and sexy. My only complaint is that I felt things moved very quickly between them. Using the L word after only knowing each other for a week was a bit too much for me and I’d have preferred a slower burning romance over time.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage was my first book by Holly Martin and it certainly won’t be my last. I’m happy that I have a second White Cliff Bay novel ‘Snowflakes on Silver Cover’ ready waiting for me. If it’s anything like this one it’ll be the perfect feel good Christmas read!
Profile Image for Susan.
1,152 reviews192 followers
November 23, 2015
Holly Martin is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. She has a way of warming you up inside and will have you falling in love with all the characters from the very beginning of CHRISTMAS AT LILAC COTTAGE. You can't help but care for Penny. She is damaged where love is concerned, and very fragile, but she goes out of her way to help those she cares about. Henry is my new book boyfriend who I thought was an uptight snob in the beginning but the way he protects Penny and looks out for her had me swooning in no time at all. I devoured Henry and Penny's story in one sitting and can't wait to continue the White Cliff Bay series with the next book, Snowflakes on Silver Cove. I can't wait to read more by this wonderful and funny author.

ARC received from NetGalley for an honest review.
Profile Image for Gawelleb.
592 reviews22 followers
December 8, 2015
J'ai vraiment beaucoup aimé mais quelques petites choses ont fait que ma note n'est pas la plus élevée (notamment le temps écoulé).
Sinon, l'histoire est celle de la rencontre entre une jeune femme solaire, Penny et son nouveau locataire, le grumpy Henry.
Il ne se passe pas grand chose dans le livre, c'est une tranche de vie et pourtant on retrouve pèle-mêle : la petite communauté bienveillante qui ne sait pas s'occuper de ses affaires, la morue (importante ça une morue), et l'ado casse-bonbon mais sympa quand même.
On ne va pas se le cacher, c'est pleins de bons sentiments, c'est très sucré mais ça fait du bien contre la morosité ambiante (et puis Henry est brun, aux yeux gris (bleus)... lui manque que la fossette). J'ai couiné plusieurs fois, gloussé et découvert que je ne suis pas la seule à détester X Factor! (Désolée Gary)
Je lirai la suite avec beaucoup d'intérêt!!!
Profile Image for Nadja.
1,565 reviews62 followers
July 2, 2017
What to say about this Christmas romance. It was okay? I'm not a fan of these super quick we-love-each-other-now romances, I prefer some building-up or at least let some time pass between the chapters. But well that's obviously not possible because everything must find its ending on Christmas because it's Christmas themed. *sigh* I liked Henry's direct and straightforward manner to the town shitting over Penny. But except from this characteristic he and everyone else is so childish. Henry's overprotectiveness of his precious Daisy. The ridiculous sexual harassment storyline and and and... wow the more I write the more I dislike this book. I think I have to downgrade it to 1.5 stars. (I still laughed out loud a couple of times)
Profile Image for Susan Crowe.
810 reviews5 followers
November 30, 2016
I've had this book on my kindle since last Christmas and decided to go ahead and read it. I was lured in by the cover. Just look at it. So cozy. So Christmas-y. No. Don't bother. Crude horny women ogling the poor guy that just moved to town. He and the lady he's renting from argue, make up, argue, make up. You know the type of book I'm talking about. I was unable to return this one and book 2 of the series to Amazon for a refund because I bought them a year ago, but you can bet I returned #3 that I got yesterday. What a disappointment and what a waste of time. I just don't get why these authors think crude talk will win readers over.
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
1,071 reviews27 followers
December 11, 2015
What a divine love story for this time of year! I have to admit it took me a couple of days to get through, but I enjoyed every minute. I felt like Henry and Penny were perfect for each other and the story built around them was wonderful! This is a perfect read for an early Christmas present to yourself.

I received this book from Bookouture via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for ضحى الحداد.
Author 3 books619 followers
November 21, 2018
2.5 stars
Well, if you are looking for a book that has a ton of Christmas in it and nothing else I think you will like this book, the main reason I didn't like this book as much as I wanted is that it was unnecessarily long, I was bored from half of it when Penny already got together with Henry .. but the story kept dragging and so many things happened that I really didn't care for .. so yeah it was an ok book for Christmas
Profile Image for Rebecca.
Author 4 books144 followers
September 25, 2015
Originally reviewed on http://beccasbooooks.blogspot.co.uk/2...

First of all, I'd like to say a massive, huge, flappy-happy excited THANK YOU to the wonderful Holly Martin and her fabulous publishers Bookouture for inviting me along to be a part of the blog tour for Christmas at Lilac Cottage.

I've been a major fan of Holly Martin's novels for so long now, I feel like she writes her books only for me (which is ridiculous I know, seeing as she has hundreds of other fans out there, understandably), but Holly delivers each and every time, singing straight to the centre of my old, romantic heart, leaving me satisfied when I reach 'the end'. I'm sure I've said this before, but I really do try not to heap my expectations upon an author. After all, just because you enjoyed one novel by said author, it doesn't necessarily mean that you'll enjoy their next, does it? But at this point, I've read countless novels by Holly Martin and fallen in love with each and every one of them, so it's kind of impossible for me not to eye Holly's books while thinking to myself, "Yep. I know I'm going to love that. I just know it." The funny thing is, with Holly Martin, I always end up being right.

Christmas at Lilac Cottage is Holly Martin's second novel with Bookouture, Fairytale Beginnings being her first. I don't know what it is but Holly has such a whimsical way of storytelling, without taking it too far over the top. Sort of like modern fairytale-esque. And that's one of the reasons why I love her novels so much. I'm a tad whimsical myself, loving nothing more than a dreamy setting, a swoon-worthy hero, and a grin-inducing love story. In Christmas at Lilac Cottage, each of those aspects come into play and they completely stole my heart away.

I understand that not everybody enjoys having Christmas forced upon them in September, but I've always been a Christmas fanatic and couldn't wait to begin reading this book. So, when I was contacted about the blog tour, and given access to the title itself, I almost burst at the seams with my impatience to reach it. For me, Christmas is never too early, and that goes for Christmas books too. It's beginning to grow chillier outside, so curling up with Christmas at Lilac Cottage was perfect.

Holly's charmingly classic imagery and descriptions brought the setting of White Cliff Bay beautifully to life, and it didn't take long for me to build up the image of this adorable seaside town in my mind. I loved it even more when the snow began to fall, covering everything in a blanket of smooth white, making Holly's characters, Penny and Henry, seem even more secluded up in Penny's cottage. Throughout the unravelling of this novel, Holly introduced me to the residents of White Cliff Bay, while at the same time Penny and Henry's story began to take shape. There was a real sense of community and support in White Cliff Bay, leaving me feeling cosy and snug as I carried on reading.

As always, Holly's characters were spot-on. When I first met Penny, her flurry of excitement at having guests renting the annexe of the cottage was almost overwhelming. It was endearing, to read of how excited she was to meet her new neighbours and I was just as excited for her. It became clear that she'd gone to a lot of effort to ensure that everything was perfect, so her bubble well and truly burst when she came face to face with Henry for the first time. Henry's demeanour was a stark contrast to Penny's almost childlike glee, and immediately I was aware of the sparks crackling between them both. Alongside Henry was Daisy, who Penny wasn't too sure about at first, but without saying too much on that matter, all becomes clear in the end.

Holly, as well as being brilliant with her settings and descriptions, is also fabulous when it comes to the leading couple in her novels, and that was the case with Henry and Penny too. Holly's heroines are never typical either, always ending up being someone who you'd love to get to know in real life. What Penny did as a job fascinated me, as its not everyday you come across an ice-carver, and I loved the moments where we were able to see Penny working. Holly had clearly done her research and the details she provided me with allowed me a clear-as-day image of Penny's work and the ice sculptures which she so lovingly created. It was fantastic, and such a breath of fresh air to find a character who was so unique in this way! When Henry arrives on the scene, I had a feeling sparks would fly. The differences between he and Penny were so blatantly obvious they were impossible to ignore, but those differences had me excited about the prospect of what the future could hold for them. Henry had that moody/sexy thing going on and worked it perfectly, whereas Penny was bouncy and excitable and just a gorgeous person inside and out. I loved these two so much and I couldn't wait to see what Holly had in store for them as the novel progressed.

As always, Holly's writing was indescribably magical, whisking me right away to the gorgeous location of White Cliff Bay, where the snow had begun to fall and the romance was building. Not only are we faced with romantic dilemmas and worries about the past on both characters' parts, but there was a real family-feel that added so much warmth and feeling to this book. I felt completely enveloped within the world of White Cliff Bay, snug and cosy and wrapped up within Penny and Henry's story. There was always something happening, or something to look forward to, and the development of the relationships were just spot on. Not only that, but it was beautiful to watch how Henry and Penny, compared to the beginning of the novel, developed throughout and were different in more ways than one by the end. It was everything that I could have hoped for from this author, and incredibly Christmassy (which I loved), with tree-shopping, Christmas decoration-hanging and the deep, rich scent of mince pies emanating from the pages.

Overall, Christmas at Lilac Cottage was the perfect way for me to be introduced to White Cliff Bay. Henry and Penny's story was gorgeous, as was the setting which it was placed in, and I'm already looking forward to revisiting White Cliff Bay in Holly's second book based here, Snowflakes on Silver Cove. I just can't wait to see what Holly has up her sleeve next for us, although I have a feeling it will be just as glitteringly pretty as this!

Becca's Books is awarding Christmas at Lilac Cottage by Holly Martin with FIVE GORGEOUS CUPCAKES! An absolute sparkler of a novel, one that you'll definitely want to snuggle up with when the autumn/winter chills begin to settle in!
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