I have to echo the sentiments of the cover quote: “I love all of Sue Moorcroft’s books!“. Last year she gave us the perfect Christmas read with The Christmas Promise and here we have a perfect romantic summer read with Just For The Holidays.
A month’s holiday in a beautiful gite in Alsace sounds like a perfect way to spend a holiday doesn’t it? Well, not if you are Leah who has been asked along basically to keep the peace between her sister Michele and her estranged husband Alister. Only a few days have gone by when an unexpected pregnancy is announced and through an unfortunate combination of circumstances Leah finds herself in sole charge of her teenage niece and nephew. Much though she loves them, she has made a conscious decision not to have children herself and feels very out of her depth when it comes to parenting skills. In case she doesn’t have enough going on, living next door is very handsome helicopter pilot Ronan and his teenage son Curtis. There are lots of hormones swirling about and not just the teenagers!
Sue Moorcroft writes books that quickly have me engrossed in her characters’ lives and Just for the Holidays was no exception. Her stories always involve situations which feel very real. Her characters have to face problems, dilemmas and worries. This makes the book sounds very heavy and serious but it’s not. There are a lot of light moments and laughter which very much reflect real life. Leah was someone I really took to. I loved the way she seemed able to relate to everyone and really connect with them. I was very jealous of her job tasting and developing new chocolates. Despite her doubts about her parenting skills she copes remarkably well with all the challenges thrown at her. She deals with problems in a very practical way, often heading to the kitchen to cook for and with the teens, showing her caring side through nourishing and nurturing even though she probably doesn’t think of it that way.
The rather gorgeous Ronan was a great addition to the story. A helicopter pilot recovering from a shoulder injury, he seemed a very caring and considerate man. I thought his relationship with his teenage son Curtis was well depicted as he coped with the usual teenage moodiness and the boy who was quickly developing into a man with all the usual feelings and confusions of adolescents. In fact, as I was reading I felt that Sue Moorcroft portrayed all her teenage characters really convincingly. I had to laugh but also feel frustrated on behalf of Leah and Ronan as the teenagers seemed to thwart any opportunities they had to be alone together! I also have to admire the author’s dedication to her research which involved being taken up in a helicopter to simulate how a forced landing would be dealt with by a pilot – rather you than me Sue!
Just for the Holidays is a really entertaining read and another winner from Sue Moorcroft. It’s a perfect mix of romance and humour, dilemmas and feel-good moments with such a perfect summery setting. Definitely one to read with a chilled glass of something fizzy as you relax in the sun (well we can hope can’t we?) and dream of summer holidays.
My thanks to Helena at Avon Books for my copy – and my sunflower seeds, I’ll let you know how they get on! Just For The Holidays was published in paperback and as an e-book on 18th May. It is available in all good bookshops and at the time of writing is only £1.99 for Kindle, so treat yourself to this fabulous summery read – click here to order.
Now read on for Sue suggestions of ten things you might consider doing – ‘just for the holidays’.
- Put your mobile phone in flight mode for the whole time you’re away. Yes, really! It will function as a camera but you won’t be notified of an important email from work or pick up the wifi in a café only to find it automatically reports to Facebook exactly where you are – and, therefore, that your house is empty. You will relax more deeply if you’re cut off from the outside world. It might feel strange but you could grow to like it. (NB You could switch it over just to call the kids or your aged parent each evening.)
- Go on holiday alone to a place where nobody knows you. Then behave in a way you would usually never do. (NB I didn’t say MISbehave … but you could. If so, you might want to switch off your mobile phone altogether.)
- Go on a writing holiday or a painting holiday, even if you’ve never written or painted before. Or a yoga retreat. Just pick something you’ve never tried but always had a hankering for. There are some amazing venues offering tuition, food and drink included in the price. (Yes, I do run a writing course like this, as you mention it …)
- If you and your loved one(s) usually find yourself bickering on holiday, outlaw arguing for the duration. Make crazy rules like people have to listen to each other’s point of view and be fair to all.
- Let each person in the holiday party have a holiday wish – the chance to choose something they want to do and (so long as it’s feasible) which everyone else has to accommodate without complaint. This can be fun even with very small children. Their vision might not be wide but you can combine wishes: ‘eating jam sandwiches’ with ‘go on a trampoline’ i.e. you take a picnic to a fun park. (You don’t have to eat the jam sandwiches while you’re actually bouncing around.)
- In similar vein, if you eat out during your holiday let each person in turn choose the restaurant or, if you’re self-catering, let each person in turn choose what dinner’s going to be. Go on. You might like fish fingers with ice cream …
- Try a ‘staycation’ at home. Have picnics on the back lawn or even on the sitting room floor, jump completely out of your normal routine and don’t go to the gym, cubs, camera club or whatever constitutes your and your family’s ‘usuals’. Instead, go out for days to local places of interest you’ve never bothered with, go out for meals, have a duvet day or lie in the bath and read. Just don’t do the housework or the laundry. If the weather allows, have barbecues instead of cooking in the kitchen.
- Dye your hair blue. You can dye it back when you come home.
- Only speak the language of the country you’re visiting. (I admit I could only do this if I holidayed in an English-speaking country … but you may be much more talented.)
- Have a really, really, really good time. All holiday long. You deserve it.
From the back of the book
The #1 bestselling author returns for summer! Grab your sun hat, a cool glass of wine, and the only book you need on holiday…
In theory, nothing could be better than a summer spent basking in the French sun. That is, until you add in three teenagers, two love interests, one divorcing couple, and a very unexpected pregnancy.
Admittedly, this isn’t exactly the relaxing holiday Leah Beaumont was hoping for – but it’s the one she’s got. With her sister Michele’s family falling apart at the seams, it’s up to Leah to pick up the pieces and try to hold them all together.
But with a handsome helicopter pilot staying next door, Leah can’t help but think she might have a few distractions of her own to deal with…
A glorious summer read, for you to devour in one sitting – perfect for fans of Katie Fforde, Carole Matthews and Trisha Ashley.