My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This is a really fun meeting of three of Lucy’s series’ which sees the Marian and Wilde families make their way to Aster Valley for a big reunion.
Central is the romance between newly discovered Marian and Wilde cousin Miller and bakery owner Darius.
It’s perhaps a little insta-lovey but i honestly didn’t mind, the connection was there from the off.
Having everyone in one place means we also get to check in with all the couples we know and love from the other books, which was cool.
I was also pretty happy to see that the level of ‘obnoxious old ladies’ was vastly reduced too.
There’s a few choice comments and they’re still up to no good and interfering left, right, and centre but without the overtly crude sexual references of earlier Marian books.
I’m definitely a fan of Darius, he’s straight forward without any manipulation or artifice. He’s attracted to Miller from the off and doesn’t play games about it.
Miller’s attitude occasionally wandered a bit close to an air of – not quite martyrdom – but definite overly wallowing.
While at the same time, I could still sympathise following his mother’s death, for me, it was frustrating how he seemed to be incapable of seeing any other side to what happened.
Thankfully, it didn’t actually end up that way and his kind heart and thoughtful nature allowed him to forgive Tilly but also accept that her behaviour was just as valid.
Ultimately I felt this part of the story was very truthful and honestly told, it was a situation where there were no good or bad guys, just humans dealing with pain, grief and fear.
The humour and zany nature of these two families, and their inherent kindness made for a wonderfully festive gathering to which the Aster Valley guys just added icing to the cake.
A perfect festive read imho and perfectly spiced with some steamy scenes as well as lovingly supportive ones between Miller and Darius.
Lucy still uses the Epilogue to set up the next book but it’s nowhere near as obvious as the Aster Valley ones.
Here we get to properly see into the future some months later with Miller and Darius firmly established in their new life together.
I’m definitely looking forward to Julian’s book though which has been delayed a short while but I’m sure will be worth the wait.
#ARC kindly received from the author via Social Butterfly PR in return for an honest and unbiased review.