** advanced copy received via publisher **
It is my absolute pleasure to join the blog tour for Heartaches and Christmas Cakes by Amy Miller today! Many thanks to Kim Nash and Bookouture for the opportunity and the advanced copy!
Author : Amy Miller
Title : Heartaches and Christmas Cakes
Series : Wartime Bakery #1
Pages : 259
Publisher : Bookouture
Publication date : October 20, 2017
December, 1940: All that Audrey Barton wants is her family together for Christmas. But the war changes everything…
The Barton family bakery in Bournemouth has been at the heart of the town for generations: Audrey and Charlie Barton have never been rich, but their bread and cakes – and their love and advice – have enriched the lives of others in the town for many years.
When war breaks out, it doesn’t take long for trouble to arrive on the bakery doorstep. Audrey’s brother William has joined up to fight, and William’s fiancé Elsie fears she may lose him before their life together has even begun. Audrey’s stepsister Lily comes to stay, but Lily is clearly hiding a dark secret.
And a silent and strange little girl is evacuated to the town – will Audrey get to the heart of what is ailing her?
Once again, you find me reviewing a book I wouldn’t normally pick up but I was swayed by the words “bakery” and “wartime” because weird as it sounds, stories set in World War II always seem to intrigue me. If like me, the word “romance” gives you the heebie-jeebies, let me tell you that while there is some of that going on here, it’s not the be all and end all of this tale. So please don’t let that put you off!
Charlie and Audrey Barton run a bakery in Bournemouth when war breaks out in Europe. Charlie wants to sign up to fight but is rejected as his bakery plays an important part in the war effort and for some people bread is the only food they’ll get. I love that the story centres around this bakery and its status in the community as I admit, I never really realised its value.
Audrey wants nothing more than a child of her own and her family around her. But then her brother William goes off to fight and everything changes. When Audrey’s stepsister Lily arrives unexpectedly and Audrey takes in Mary, a young evacuee, life will change forever. Because Lily has a secret and Mary doesn’t seem to talk.
This is such a wonderful story that shows the other side of war. It offers everything you could possibly want. Love, loss, secrets, family and friendships. We get to know these characters who are desperately trying to survive with what little they have. I feel the author truly showed the community spirit that was so important in those days by, for instance, coming together and somehow managing to create a lovely wedding day, seemingly out of nothing.
Charlie and Audrey have to be incredibly inventive to keep coming up with cakes in the middle of rationing when products they’d normally use are suddenly unavailable. It also shows how the world changed when women stepped up and took over jobs that used to be for men only.
I felt all these characters were extremely likeable and I warmed to them all quite quickly. With a war raging and family members away fighting for months, unable to send news, it’s hard to imagine that life must go on somehow. And in doing so, these people showed amazing strength and resilience. War doesn’t just change lives, it also changes people and some will realise they’re stronger than they thought.
This is the first book in the Wartime Bakery series and I absolutely loved every minute of it! Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is a sometimes heartbreaking, yet also truly heartwarming and uplifting story and I honestly can’t wait to read more about the Barton family and their friends.
Heartaches and Christmas Cakes is available now!
Amy Miller is the pseudonym of Amy Bratley, who started her writing life working on magazines and newspapers. She has previously written three women’s fiction novels published by Pan Macmillan, the first of which was a bestseller in Italy.
Her day job is being a freelance managing editor of both a vintage interiors magazine and a food magazine, two subjects she’s passionate about.
Amy lives in Dorset with her husband and two children.