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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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on 1 December 2013
It was just what I wanted and more. It had me giggling at some points and racing through the pages, eager to know what happened, yet not wanting it to finish. I loved Alex and her dysfunctional family and every character in the book was somehow special and I formed a link with all of them. I kept wishing I could go to Poldore and meet all the people there, especially Ruan, who was an incredibly sexy, attentive, moody and caring hero. Most of all, it got me in the mood for Christmas and meant I spent a wonderful weekend out of the cold, experiencing the ups and downs of the hero and heroine.
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I'll own up - I'm an absolute pushover for books set at Christmas, and look forward immensely to that time when the sparkly covers appear on the supermarket shelves (and the cover of this one is absolutely beautiful...). I also have to own up that Scarlett Bailey's alter ego is one of my favourite authors - one of her books featured in my top ten of last year, and I'm looking forward immensely to her new one. These Scarlett Bailey Christmas outings are a little lighter - in previous years we've seen The Night Before Christmas and Married By Christmas as well as the digital novella Santa Maybe - but they show the same wonderful story telling skills, the large cast of real-life characters, the female lead who becomes your best friend as you struggle along with her, and a lovely warm feeling that's absolutely perfect for Christmas reading.

Alex has had a best friend called Marcus since childhood - he calls her Al and "mate", and they get into all kinds of scrapes together. At the point she realises that she wants him to be rather more than her friend, he doesn't take her seriously and decides to propose to the glamorous Milly. She then finds that her father - who brought her up after her mother walked out when she was very young - has some secrets that entirely change their relationship. So she decides to move from Grangemouth to Cornwall, to the lovely town of Poldore, to take up her post as harbourmaster. Alex is used to working in a man's world, a little shy but highly professional in her work, and she begins to build her new life.

She takes up the tenancy of a small cottage which comes with a boat to ferry herself across to the harbour, and a sitting tenant in the form of a smelly and unfriendly dog called Buoy, who she has to learn to live with. The hub of the community is the pub The Silent Man - she strikes up a friendship with barmaid Lucy, who turns out to have secrets of her own, and immediately clashes with Ruan who runs small boat tours out of the harbour. She gets drawn into the community with a role in the Christmas pageant, organised by the larger-than-life Sue, and the preparations for it drive the story forward. At the same time, Alex's life gets a great deal more complicated when her former life impacts on her present.

I adore stories with a real sense of place and community, and there are some big characters here that absolutely enthrall. Ruan is suitably gorgeous, with a sad background that you ache to be healed. Alex is a wonderful strong character, and you yearn for her to make the right decisions and bring happiness into her life - but there are many twists, turns and misunderstandings along the way. And running through it all - or walking in through one door and out of the other, before taking over the bed - is the wonderful character of Buoy, one of the most real dogs I've come across in fiction in some time.

This was a simply wonderful book - just Christmassy enough without ever being cloying, filled with fantastic characters, a vividly drawn setting and with a story that keeps you turning the pages in your hope for a happy ending. I loved it - and if you love Christmas and a really feel-good story (and eccentric dogs), so will you.
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I just loved this book. And I definitely don't hold with simpering, useless female characters, so I certainly didn't read the main character, Alex, that way at all. Sure, she had quite a few insecurities, but who doesn't? She's written as a woman who is very comfortable with her professional life (she's the new harbormaster) but who has had her personal life turned upside down. She lands in a tiny Cornish sea village and is soon intertwined with the local assortment of characters. But the way to long-term happiness is not easy, her past (all of it) catches up with her and she almost loses her future (and her dog!)

I read this book in less than 2 days, it was one of those that I hated to put down at night and that I picked up first thing in the morning. (Thank goodness for a holiday weekend here in the US!) Although I'd recommend this book any time of year, it proved to be a great kickoff to the holiday season for me.

I do have to comment that that there's one nasty review here - clearly the reviewer didn't give the entire book a chance. Or they did, and just didn't like the book. That's OK - but really it's not the end of the world and you don't have to be so nasty. I did not find Alex, the main female character, to be annoying or helpless or useless and I'd encourage other readers to give this book a chance. And no, I don't know Scarlet Bailey, so please no accusations along those lines!

Read this book and Merry Christmas!
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on 18 December 2014
Having made a fool of herself at home Alex up sticks and takes on the Harbour Master's role in Poldore, Cornwall managing to raise a few eyes in the process.....a woman, doing a traditionally male role? Escaping her " mistakes" Alex soon learns she will have to share her life with Buoy the smelliest dog on the planet. Soon she is welcomed with open arms by the villagers, Eddie ,the publican and his daughter Lucy. Sue, who likes to think Poldore is hers ( after all her family have lived their for generations in the castle)and Ruan the man who blames Alex for almost drowning on her first day in the village. Mayhem ensues when Sue decides Alex must be part of the traditional Christmas pageant and who better to play the Virgin Mary ! Ruan playing the part of Joseph sparks Alex's interest but he has had his heart broken in the past and has built barriers. When Alex's past comes to Poldore to haunt her all spirals out of control.
I just loved this book, engaging, warm, funny and at times sad. The characters were well explored and the story flowed beautifully, and as a dog lover I fell in love a little with Buoy despite being a terror. Having also read The Night Before Christmas , I knew this would be the perfect Christmas read and it did not disappoint.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICEon 9 February 2015
Alex is a harbour master (mistress ? manager ?). She has been in love with Marcus for most of her life but he sees her as just a friend so when he becomes engaged to the girly Milly and she discovers that her father has been lying to her for many years she moves away from home and takes up a job in the Cornish port of Poldore. She gets her own cottage, the respect of most of the inhabitants, beautiful scenery and a smelly dog which comes with the cottage. Soon she is forging a new life in the small town with new friends when her past starts to intrude on her present.

I liked Alex - it is great to have a competent main female character doing an unusual job without much comment. The little town (which is the subject of a couple of other novels by the same author) is engaging although perhaps a little far fetched ? Alex's problems, which encroach on her new life, are amusing but cause her real confusion and upset. Her relationship with Ruan progresses in the way that these things normally do in a romance novel. The delight of her character is that she deals with all her issues in a very realistic way and doesn't do anything monumentally stupid - I like a heroine that I can respect.

This book didn't have to be set at Christmas but it does add some extra complications into Alex's story and some extra pressure to resolve her family issues. Everything, as you would expect, ends very satisfactorily.
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on 16 November 2013
A gorgeous book inside and out. Within a few pages I'd fallen in love with the first character, Buoy the dog. I loved the setting of the story, it was very well described and you could imagine walking along the seafront. All the characters were written with warmth and humour. A great book to leave you with a warm, happy feeling. Thoroughly recommend.
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on 16 November 2013
This is the first of Scarletts books that I have read and I'm so pleased to say it won't be my last. I fell in love with Alex, what a character and after exchanging Twitter messages I find I haven't got to say goodbye to her just yet as another instalment is on the "brew".
Brilliant storyline which has made me giggle and laugh out loud and being set in my beloved Cornwall made this book get the 5 star rating it so deserves.
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Christmas wouldn't be complete without a book by Scarlett Bailey! This is by far my favourite cover of hers it is a perfect winter setting with its ice blues and the extra touch of glitter just adds that little bit of Glitz that will catch your eye on the shelves making it impossible to walk past without a copy falling into your basket!

Heartbroken Alex needs to get away from her life as she knows it so she can finally be herself. After a hidden secret comes to light and to top it off the love of her life is about to marry someone else. She takes a job miles away in the village of Poldore, but will running away from her problems be enough or will everything catch up with her eventually?

Bouy the smelly old dog was the star of this book! I am not a big dog fan but he is a wonderful addition to a great set of characters although with his antics I have to say I don't think the front cover is any real resemblance as I could never see this strong willed dog being put on a lead! There are a real quirky mix of characters in this book and Alex is an independent, tomboy character, she has grown up without a female role model around so she has had no guidance when it comes to any kind of women's problems or fashion sense so she is quite unlike our usual chick lit female leads, and I loved her for this. Alex finds a friend in Lucy who also has her fair share of problems but the friendship that grows between the two of them feels very real.

What makes this such a perfect winter read is it isn't too challenging, and the warm friendliness of the village folk makes this such a cosy read. The time scale of the book is set around Christmas time and there are some Christmas features too so this is a great book to get you in the Christmas spirit.

One thing you can always count on with Scarlett Baileys books is that there will be a troubled romance, and this book doesn't disappoint. There was also some light humour which was a great touch to the storyline and there were also some great little twists which to me were an added bonus to a great book. This is an enjoyable light read that you will fly through in no time.
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on 3 December 2013
I really enjoyed this book. Admittedly, I love Christmas books, and I'm drawn in by a pretty cover, but this book gave far much more than the cover suggested.

I have never read a book with so many twists and turns, I could never have predicted the ending.

Such an amazing read!
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on 29 November 2013
Like some of the other reviewers, I adore a book or a film set at Christmas and I've enjoyed Scarlett Bailey's other books (all set at Christmas time), so I was already looking forward to reading this when I won a copy in a competition. The cover is lovely and very appealing for a cosy read when it's miserable & cold outside.
As for the story, I loved it and was charmed by it. I always hesitate to use the word "predictable" for a book of this type, because it sounds negative, when actually, predictability (in terms of the overall story arc) is what I'm looking for when I pick up a romance - I want to be assured of the direction and the slightly fairy-tale ending, whilst being surprised at the twists and turns along the way, and that's exactly what "Just for Christmas" delivers. I found the characters varied and likeable (apart from the ones we obviously weren't supposed to like!) although I was slightly confused about David from the Port Authority who popped up once, seemed significant in asking another character on a date, but then never came back, as far as I could tell.

However, the flow of the story kept me so engaged that I read it all in one day. The way something new kept on happening, almost out of the blue, reminded me very much of the first Scarlett Bailey story I read, "Santa, Maybe", which was published in episodes online. Probably because of that those two together are my favourites so far. I'm looking forward to more Scarlett Bailey novels!
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