When charming, mysterious, Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.
As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. With the help of Nik, and her best friend Oliver, Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen! But time is running out and Oliver isn’t the only one who has suspicions about charismatic Nik’s intentions.
Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?
Google Play: https://bit.ly/33GbOOI
EXTRACT FROM THE BOOK!
The door’s bell rang and I turned around as Nik wheeled in his suitcase. The lunch hour rush had just passed and the shop only had a couple of customers. Winter sunrays poured indoors with him.
‘Welcome to Under the Tree.’ I beamed.
Nik put down his rucksack.
‘Was Mr Wilson as pleased to see you as I thought?
Nik let out a low whistle. ‘What an amazing shop – he’s a real gent and let me study all the vintage cameras and wanted to take a look at mine. I’ve never seen such a range of analogue equipment. I could have spent hours looking at the range of lenses and he had a beautiful camera with a chrome and leather body. Its focal length lenses are really interesting. It’s one of the more reasonably priced ones as well. I’ve only seen it online before and am really tempted. It’s just come into stock and I’ve wanted a Pentax for ages.’
‘You’ll have made his day.’
Nik looked around.
‘That’s the reading area I was telling you about,’ I said. I couldn’t help feeling proud as I pointed straight ahead, past the till, to a section of the shop with red carpet and cushions on the floor alongside open picture books. Nothing pleased me more than seeing little ones ensconced in there, on a dark, wintry afternoon. Surrounding the square of red carpet was a wooden library of stories for older children. In the centre of the shop’s main floor was a table covered in pocket money priced toys. On the walls were shelves full of board games and plushies, building bricks, dolls and drawing equipment – plus one area dedicated to merchandise from well-known brands based on television series. The floor was beech laminate and the walls magnolia. The ceiling was eggshell-blue with white clouds painted on, along with yellow sunrays projecting out from the front right corner, above the door.
‘Love that,’ Nik said, pointing to the corner opposite, diagonally. A huge Christmas tree was painted on the wall, with sparkling baubles and a fairy on top.
‘The shelf projecting out from under the lowest branches features our toy of the week. The current one is a kit to make your own insect house.’
‘The whole vibe here is really cosy.’
‘You can say small if you want to.’ I grinned.
‘I don’t mean that Jess. What I’m saying is… I can see this place has got soul. Some shops I visit are sterile and clinical with staff wearing crease-free uniforms and plastic shelves full of regimented stock.’
‘No chance of us being that tidy here.’
His eyes crinkled at the corners and made me want to joke again
‘There’s nothing better than a toy shop that feels like home,’ he said.
‘Jessie! Finally it’s quiet enough for a proper chat. How was Nuremberg? Did you try any German sausage?’
I smiled at my assistant. His eyes flickered with amusement.
‘No, but the apple strudel was excellent. This is Nik. His family own a toy manufacturing company and he was also in Germany. Nik, please meet my assistant, Seb.’
‘Ah sorry, I thought you were a customer browsing.’ Seb reached out his hand, biceps bulging in his tight shirt.
Nik shook it enthusiastically. ‘Great to meet you.’
‘How about I get three coffees, Jess, and you can tell me all about the trip?’
I gave him a thumbs-up. Nik wandered off towards the reading area, picking up a child’s dropped beaker as he passed a buggy. Seb moved closer to me.
‘So… you had a good trip? I’m glad. You deserve it.’ Seb jerked his head towards Nik. ‘How? When? Where?’
‘We were on the same flight. Earlier this morning. Above the North Sea.’
‘It’s great not to be given your usual answers of online, late last night after drinks and Tinder.’
‘That was only once and taught me never to trust a profile picture again.’
‘That’s ageist, Jess. You’ve got to take your hat off to anyone in their eighties trying to get a date.’ He glanced at Nik. ‘Clearly this time you’ve nothing against white hair.’
‘This is business. Pure and simple.’
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Samantha Tonge lives in Manchester UK with her husband and children. She studied German and French at university and has worked abroad, including a stint at Disneyland Paris. She has travelled widely. When not writing she passes her days cycling, baking and drinking coffee. Samantha has sold many dozens of short stories to women’s magazines. She is represented by the Darley Anderson literary agency. In 2013, she landed a publishing deal for romantic comedy fiction with HQDigital at HarperCollins and in 2014, her bestselling debut, Doubting Abbey, was shortlisted for the Festival of Romantic Fiction best Ebook award. In 2015 her summer novel, Game of Scones, hit #5 in the UK Kindle chart and won the Love Stories Awards Best Romantic Ebook category. In 2018 Forgive Me Not, heralded a new direction into darker women’s fiction with publisher Canelo. In 2019 she was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association romantic comedy award.