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Retreat To The Spanish Sun By Jo Thomas

Retreat To The Spanish Sun‘Retreat To The Spanish Sun’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas.

Eliza has a full house! When her three children grew up and moved out, she downsized to a smaller property… but now they’re all back. Every room in the house is taken and Eliza finds herself sharing her bed with her eldest daughter and her daughter’s pug. Combined with the online course she’s trying to finish, plus her job to fit in, there just isn’t the peace and quiet that Eliza needs. So when an ad pops up on her laptop saying ‘house-sitters wanted’, Eliza can’t resist the chance to escape. She ends up moving to a rural finca in southern Spain, looking after the owner’s Iberico pigs, learning about secret gastronomic societies… and finding a new zest for life and love along the way.

Settle into the latest book Jo and you’re settling into a Spanish adventure packed with delicious food, friendly pigs and an escape from the mundane.

Tired with her grown up children under her feet and not being able to get a moments peace, Eliza takes herself to sunny Spain to housesit.

It’s whilst away that Eliza takes stock of her life and how little time she has to herself and makes her reevaluate herself and makes new friends as well as finding love.

I loved this story, it’s sunny, fun and packed with adventure. Eliza was a great character, she was kind with a huge heart who immediately settles into her new life in the small Spanish community and befriends fellow English people. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and it’s such warm reading as she makes friends with Josep as well as becoming friends with his pigs.

As per usual Jo has delivered another story, that sweeps you away in life, packed with delicious and mouthwatering food and a traditional Spanish town, ‘Retreat To The Spanish Sun’ is the perfect book to curl up with beside the pool!

You can pre-order ‘Retreat To The Spanish Sun’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 23rd June 2022.

Celebrations at the Chateau By Jo Thomas

Celebrations at the Chateau‘Celebrations at the Chateau’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas, so sit back and enjoy an extract from the story.

‘It’s like . . . Hogwarts!’ I say, peering through the early- morning autumnal mist. At least, I think it’s me who says it out loud.

Tiredness and shock has mashed my brain and blurred my vision. But I’m pretty sure it’s what we’re all thinking, for once, all on the same page, as we sit inside the hire car.

‘I’m waiting for Frank-N-Furter to come and meet us,’ says my eldest sister Nellie, short for Elinor, but no one calls her that and she doesn’t mind.

‘Who?’ I ask, questions whizzing round my brain, like eggs in a blender, turning to froth.

‘Never mind, you’re too young!’ says Lizzie, my middle sister, short for Elizabeth, but no one calls her that and, yes, I think she does mind.

‘Er, not that much younger than you!’ Nellie reprimands.

‘It’s fine,’ I say. ‘Let’s just find out where we’re sup- posed to be and what’s going on.’

And they both close their mouths, like bickering children who have been silenced.

‘And Hogwarts is a lot bigger,’ says Nellie, but quieter. She would know, bringing up three boys.

‘But just as creepy,’ says Lizzie. ‘This is . . .’ She carries on staring at it from behind the steering wheel, through the big metal gates.

‘This is a joke, right? Someone’s idea of a practical joke! Wait until I find out who’s responsible for this!’ Nellie shakes her head.
But who would do that? Especially not now, not with our grandfather only just buried. Tears, which seem to have been constantly ready to spill for the last month, prickle again.

‘Or someone’s got their facts wrong, which is more likely!’ Lizzie likes to have facts and answers. She works on logic. ‘An overnight ferry crossing, on choppy waters, then driving on the wrong side of the road for over an hour in a hire car for a wrong address!’ she says, sound- ing fearsome. I just know that someone is going to be in big trouble if this turns out to be the case.

We sit in the car, the heaters blowing on our cheeks, looking at the listing iron gates and the long tree-lined drive to the left, covered with fallen late-autumn leaves. And beyond that, shrouded in mist, is what I can only describe as . . .

‘It’s a castle.’ I say what we’re all thinking.

‘A château,’ Lizzie corrects.

‘Yes, a château,’ I agree. ‘I’ve seen one on television with Dick and Angel.’

‘Who?’ Lizzie asks.

‘Daytime telly,’ Nellie confirms.

Lizzie tuts and purses her lips.

Neither of us says any more. Lizzie doesn’t do day-time TV. In fact, I don’t think she does telly of any sort. She just works and she isn’t happy about taking time off to be here. We all sit and stare through the gates.

Lizzie grips the steering wheel. ‘Check the satnav again,’ she instructs, jabbing a short painted fingernail at my phone.

I do as I’m told. ‘You have arrived at your destination. You have arrived at your destination,’ it repeats, grating on our nerves.

We all look around and behind us, but there’s nothing else. Just these gates, the long tree-lined drive, a field of brown and white cows to the right of it and a farm- house with lights on. And, beyond the gates, this building, glowering at us with a Gallic glare. Suddenly, there is a flickering of lights from a window in the turret closest to us – there’s one on each side of the building. Again they flicker and go out, flicker and go out.

We look at each other nervously.

‘Are you sure we own this?’ I ask again, hoping there’s been a big mistake.

You can buy ‘Celebrations at the Chateau’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Chasing The Italian Dream By Jo Thomas

Chasing The Italian Dream‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas.

Lucia has worked hard as a lawyer in Wales, aiming for a big promotion she hopes will shortly come her way. Finally taking a well-earned break at her grandparents’ house in southern Italy, the sunshine, lemon trees and her nonna’s mouth-watering cooking make her instantly feel at home. But she’s shocked to learn that her grandfather is retiring from the beloved family pizzeria and will need to sell. Lucia can’t bear the thought of the place changing hands – especially when she discovers her not-quite-ex-husband Giacomo wants to take it over! Then bad news from home forces Lucia to re-evaluate what she wants from life. Is this her chance to carry on the family tradition and finally follow her dreams?

I spent my Saturday with my head in Jo’s latest book, the perfect escapism story to curl up with filled with strong women and delicious recipes that literally made my mouth water.

The story is seen through the narrative of Lucia, a daughter of Italian parents who spends 2 weeks each year with her grandparents in Italy. With her out of office off, she longs for the Italian sun and to reunited with her Nonno and Nonna. But when her Nonno announces his retirement from the family restaurant and Lucia is distraught at the change until she realises that she wants to run the family business, but it’s unheard of a woman being a pizzeria owner in the small town. As well dealing with the shock of her Nonna’s retirement, she has to face up to her ex-husband Giacomo who she never divorced who also wants to buy her Nonno’s business. The pair of them end up in a secret competition creating delicious pizzas and dishes and the winner gets the restaurant.

I absolutely love Jo’s writing, set in picturesque settings that sweep the reader away from the temperamental weather that we’re currently experiencing. Lucia is a great leading lady accompanied by other strong leading ladies and an eager kitten. I loved Lucia’s determination to change the dynamics of the small town and prove that women are just as worthy to be business women, she’s adamant to bring the town into the 21st century and get rid of the silly traditions and notions. I adored her grandparents, especially her warm and bubbly grandmother who’s quietly encouraging her grand daughter to make a change. Also interactions with Lucia and Giacomo make for tender and charming reading as the pair of them compete against each other and face up to old ghosts and feelings.

Beautifully written and poignant from the first page, Jo has written another beautiful and heartwarming romantic tale that hooks the reader from the first page. With vivid descriptions of mouth watering recipes and the Italian landscapes, ‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ is an inspirational joy to read about one woman’a journey and determination to make a change.

You can pre-order ‘Chasing The Italian Dream’ from Amazon and will be available to buy from good bookshops from 10th June 2021.

Finding Love At The Christmas Market By Jo Thomas

Finding Love at the Christmas Market‘Finding Love At The Christmas Market’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas.

Residential-home caterer Connie has had one online-dating disaster too many. Hurt in the past and with her son to consider, now she’s feeling hesitant. Then one of Connie’s residents sets her up on a date at a beautiful German Christmas market – with the promise she’ll take a mini-bus full of pensioners with her.Amongst the twinkling lights and smell of warm gingerbread in the old market square, Connie heads off on her date with a check-list of potential partner must-haves. Baker Henrich ticks all the boxes, but when Connie meets Henrich’s rival William, she starts to wonder if ticking boxes is the answer.

Having consumed Jo’s previous book called ‘Escape to the French Farmhouse’ in one sitting, I was delighted to be offered the chance to read her new Christmas book about love, friendship and food.

The story is mostly seen through the narrative of Connie, a single mum who works for a local catering company that delivers food to a care home called Lavender Hill. It’s in this job, that has made friends with the residents of the care home, especially Pearl and has decided to help them with a task of bringing the ashes of their friend called Elsie back to her home country in Germany and be scattered at the Christmas markets. It just so happens that Connie is going to Germany to meet Heinrich, her last hope at online dating. With a minibus full of elderly people who have far from lost their lust for life. They begin a 5 day adventure in Germany, embracing life and new friendships.

I loved this book, it warm, full of heart and is the perfect distraction during a pandemic. I loved Connie, she’s a kind woman, who puts other people’s happiness before her own. When she meets Heinrich, he ticks all the boxes that she’s looking for in a man. Now that her grown up son has Sam has left the nest and got himself a girlfriend, Connie is looking for company but is wary of the deception that is involved with online dating. Even though Connie wants her heart to belong to Heinrich, she finds herself drawn to William, who just so happens to be Heinrich’s enemy. Their family have been at loggerheads for years and come from bakeries in the opposing parts of the town. William is hoping that this year will be the year that his bakery will win the Christmas cake of the year and help bring in some funds to the Old Town and help mend his relationship with his wife and son. I loved William, he’s kind with a huge heart. I loved the interaction between Connie and William, from their awkward first meeting to her helping him with the baking.

This book is the perfect festive book to read. Filled with graphic scenes of the Christmas markets to the heady scents from the Christmas baked goods that seemed to leap from the pages. The story is beautifully written with wonderful characters and really highlights how people can easily be forgotten when they get older and are put into homes and out of the way. It made for sad reading in parts, as the characters reflected on how they were made to feel when family only wanted them for Boxing Day or for expensive gifts.

The humans weren’t the only great characters in this book, there was the inclusion of a sweet and deaf dog called Fritz who was able to put people at ease with his gentle nature. Like Jo’s previous books, this book is heavily food based with traditional German sweets and baked goods and Jo has included the recipes should the reader decide to create their own.

A story of new beginnings and new memories, this festive story is filled with love and heart, ‘Finding Love at the Christmas Market’ is a fun and captivating story that is packed with Christmas cheer and love.

You can buy ‘Finding Love At The Christmas Market’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.

Escape To The French Farmhouse By Jo Thomas

Escape To The French Farmhouse‘Escape To The French Farmhouse’ is the latest book by Jo Thomas.

Del and her husband Ollie moved to a beautiful village in Provence for a fresh start after years of infertility struggles. But six weeks after they arrive, they’re packing the removal van once more. As Del watches the van leave for England, she suddenly realises exactly what will make her happier…a new life in France – without Ollie. Now alone, all Del has is a crumbling farmhouse, a mortgage to pay and a few lavender plants. What on earth is she going to do? Discovering an old recipe book at the market run by the rather attractive Fabian, Del starts to bake. But can her new-found passion really help her let go of the past and lead to true happiness?

Last night I curled up with this book with the intention of only reading a few chapters. Fast forward three hours later and I finally put the book down after being unable to put the book until I finished the stories of Del and her new adventures in France.

I genuinely loved this book, everything in it was so vibrant from the setting, the characters as well the dialogue.

Del is a great character, she’s a brave woman who decides that her marriage isn’t working and makes the courageous decision to stay France whilst her husband returns to England. Alone and a stranger, Del decides to embrace the French way and to earn a few euros by making use of the lavender fields beside her house in recipes. With the help of her new friends Carine, Henri and the glorious Fabien, she establishes herself as a successful baker in the small town as well as an valuable asset to the small town.

Everything in this story is so lovely, from the interactions with the characters, the beautiful settings which is described so vividly to the lavender fields that leap off the pages. The story is wonderfully written with relatable characters particularly Dell. The one thing that she dreamt off was to have a family, but feels at a loss that she can’t and begins to doubt her worth, but in this new surrounding she emerges a great strong woman who helps so many people in the town and making such significant changes, from helping the homeless and poor.

A story of heart and community, ‘Escape To The French Farmhouse’ is a beautifully written story about new friendships and new beginnings, this book was a captivating story from the first page.
You can buy ‘Escape To The French Farmhouse’ from Amazon and is available to buy from good bookshops.