Authors: Samantha Tonge
Things don’t always run smoothly in the game of love…
Former hot shot city girl Pippa Pattinson loves her new life of rustic simplicity, running a quaint teashop on a sleepy Greek island with her hot fiancé, Niko. But it’s been a quick change to slow living – and you can’t blame a girl for wondering, ‘how did I get here?’
As her Christmas wedding approaches, a trip back to snowy England for her ex’s engagement party makes her wonder if those are wedding bells she’s hearing in her mind, or warning bells. She longs for the excitement of her old London life – the glamour, the regular pedicures. Can she really give that all up to be…a fishwife?
There’s nothing for it but to throw herself into bringing a little Christmas magic to the struggling village in the form of a Christmas fair. Somewhere in amidst the sparkly bauble cakes and stollen scones, she’s hoping she’ll come to the right decision about where she belongs…fingers crossed in time for the wedding…
Perfect for fans of Lindsey Kelk and Debbie Johnson, you won’t want to miss the Christmas Wedding of the year!
From Paris with Love
Game of Scones
My Big Fat Christmas Wedding
lives in Cheshire with her lovely family and a cat who thinks it’s a dog. Along with writing, her days are spent cycling, willing cakes to rise and avoiding housework. A love of fiction developed as a child, when she was known for reading Enid Blyton books in the bath. A desire to write bubbled away in the background whilst she pursued other careers, including a fun stint working at Disneyland Paris. Formally trained as a linguist, Samantha now likes nothing more than holing herself up in the spare room, in front of the keyboard. Writing romantic comedy novels is her passion.
Firstly, I’d like to mention my wonderful editors, Victoria Oundjian and Lucy Gilmour – thanks a million for your hard work and humour. Appreciation also to the whole CarinaUK team – I LOVE my book covers!
Thanks to Martin, Immy and Jay for always offering a listening ear when I’m going through some (usually unnecessary) writerly crisis. I couldn’t do this job without you. The continued encouragement means everything. And keep those chocolate bars coming!
Huge hugs to my fellow Carina authors. You guys are the very best.
Frank de Jong, thanks for your support and continuing to inspire the character of Henrik.
Sending warm wishes to all my Facebook and Twitter friends, and to the amazing bloggers who have helped me promote my books. As a digital-first author, you are my lifeline.
I also appreciate those readers who take the time to contact me and say how much they’ve enjoyed my work. That brightens my day more than you can ever imagine and gives me faith on the days when doubt creeps in.
Here’s to our twenty years together, Martin, starting with the mouldy wedding cake and honeymoon mosquito wars. Like in fiction, the best real-life love stories have flaws…
As if trying to rock us to sleep, the ocean lapped against the fishing boat’s sides. However, Niko and I couldn’t have been more awake as we lay lips pressed together, on its wooden bottom. A kaleidoscope of magical fairy dust danced before my closed eyes. Despite the midnight breeze, heat surged through my limbs. Almost two months I’d been in Taxos and the passion of my fisherman friend still left me with wobbly Greek semolina pudding for knees.
Okay. Bear with me. I know this sounded like an extract from one of my favourite romance novels. But a starlit Greek night, during the last humidity of summer, spent with the sexiest man in the Aegean, stirred every soppy cell of my being.
I opened my eyes, pulled away and grinned. Niko leant up on one elbow and an inquiring smile crossed those silken lips. In the moonlight (okay, with the help of our lamp) I drank in that caramel skin, those mocha eyes and the taut outline of a man who did physical work for a living. Then my gaze turned to Kos island’s shoreline. Glowing amber lights illuminated the village. The wind dropped and along with the familiar chirp of cicadas, string music drifted across the waves from the beach, where locals cleared up after a community barbecue. We’d all celebrated building work starting on the much-needed, income-boosting Marine Museum. Thank goodness for the faith of some foreign investors.
‘Pippa? You have a joke to share?’
‘It’s nothing,’ I said and chuckled.
He leant forward and with his free hand tickled just above the corner of my hip. His fingers crept up to under my arm and I laughed even harder. Then gently he bent further forward, so that our noses touched. He batted his lush eyelashes against mine – butterfly kisses, his speciality to make me giggle, when we were kids. They still did – but these days made me also tingle in places I never used to know existed.
‘Okay, okay,’ I said and backed away, longing to once again kiss his firm mouth. ‘It’s just that in my mind I called you my fisherman friend. A Fisherman’s Friend is a decades-old famous cough-sweet in England, made from liquorice and menthol – people either love or hate it.’
One eyebrow raised, Niko sat up on the blanket and took both my hands. ‘And you, my little juicy fig,’ he said, huskily, ‘are a
fan of this particular fisherman friend, no?’
‘I’m not sure,’ I said airily. ‘I might need to have another taste.’
Niko smiled and then stared for a moment. He cleared his throat and pulled me up, so that I was sitting too. Cue a more vigorous rocking of the boat. Water splashed onto my arm, like a sudden shot of aircon. This was the perfect night for skinny-dipping, me minus my polka-dot undies, Niko revealing his lower abdominal V muscle, acquired from honest labour, not some clinical gym.
‘You see me as
than a friend though, no?’ said Niko, cheeks tingeing red. ‘And you like living here?’
‘Huh? Of course. Nikolaos Sotiropoulos. How can you even ask?’
Since my return to Taxos, the holiday destination of my early years, earnest, gorgeous islander, Niko, had become the centre of my world. This was quite an admission for a mathematician who, only a matter of weeks ago, commuted daily for work in a major London bank. If you’d told me back then that in September I’d be running a teashop in Kos, I’d have sooner believed I was going to relocate to Mars. Okay so it would be nice to visit my favourite restaurant in Soho now and again, plus shop in Oxford Street, but London couldn’t compete with the island’s freshly caught fish and coastal views.
‘I adore you and love living here,’ I said. ‘Watching the teashop take off has given me such an adrenaline rush – as has me making plans to branch out to make regular scone deliveries to the Creami-Kos café chain. And the summer weeks here have been idyllic. Diving into the refreshing Taxos sea after a hard day’s work, certainly beats catching a stuffy train home to take a shower. As for the raven-black night skies, untainted by the glow of city lights, and villagers shaking my hand every day… I’d never once spoken to some of my close neighbours in London.’
Niko ran a hand through his curly black hair. Through his tight T-shirt his chest rose and dipped more quickly than usual.
‘You speak more poetically since living here,’ he whispered. ‘Where has that practical banker gone?’
I poked him in the ribs. ‘You’ve ruined her. It’s your fault.’
‘I can be a poet too,’ he said, in a seductive treacle-like tone. ‘It’s as if you’re the antidote to my personal poisons. You extinguish my self-doubt and evaporate my paranoia.’ He took a deep breath and glanced away for a second. ‘But now, dear Pippa, I have something very important to say.’ He looked back at me, all the twinkle gone from his eyes. ‘Can’t put it off any longer. It’s been building up.’
‘Is something the matter?’ My heart thumped. Perhaps our time together had been too intense, and he wanted to step back. What if Niko had brought me onto the ocean to let me down gently; say it wasn’t working out, me living in his family’s taverna, baking and selling my scones in the half of the building they’d closed down; poetry aside, that we were too different, with me thinking in numbers, him thinking in shoals; that all those years we’d played together as children, during summer holidays, didn’t mean we were destined to spend our lives together as adults?
I swallowed. ‘What is it?’
‘Yesterday. I spoke to your father.’
‘Did he ring?’ I sat bolt upright. ‘Why didn’t you tell me? Is everything okay?’ My mind raced. Was something wrong at home? Or was Niko worried I’d have no job if we split up and I decided to return to England? Perhaps he was trying to line me up a position with my dad – not that I’d need anyone’s help. I was an independent, modern woman who…aarghh, who melted like chocolate in the sun, when Niko touched me or spoke with his sexy Greek accent that made my skin flush and palms moisten.
‘We…I…your father agreed that…’
‘Niko! Just spit it out!’
‘Huh?’ His brow furrowed and he stuck out his tongue. ‘See, I am not eating anything.’
‘No! In English that means hurry up and tell me. What’s this all about?’
‘Us. The future.’ He pulled a small red box out of his back pocket.
I gasped. Gosh. Really? But…’ My eyes pricked.
‘Your father gives us his blessing,’ Niko prised open the lid and looked up at me shyly. ‘I hope you don’t mind me seeking your father’s permission first but…’ He shrugged those strong shoulders and I nodded, knowing how important some traditions were to him, especially when it came to family. ‘Pippa, you are sweeter than the most honey-filled baklava in Athens. Your first smile of the day is my sunrise. Marry me. Make me the happiest man in the whole of Greece.’
A lump rose in my throat. What an exceptionally pretty silver ring, bearing a sparkling blue sapphire, surrounded by tiny diamonds. It reminded me of the blue and white houses across the island.