Neverland Blog Tours | A Vicarage Christmas Excerpt and Giveaway!

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Welcome to Thornwaite, a quaint village tucked up in England’s beautiful but rainy Lake District… where homecomings happen and surprises are in store for the four Holley sisters…

Anna Holley, the third of four sisters, has always felt a little bit forgotten. A family tragedy when she was a child had her retreating deep into shyness, and social anxiety kept her on the fringes of the cozy chaos of the busy vicarage.

After several years away from home, Anna returns for Christmas... and an important announcement from her father. As much as she once loved the village, coming back is hard and puts Anna's social capabilities to the test.

Avoiding her sisters’ bossy questions, she heads out to the local pub one night, and meets a handsome stranger nursing a pint. Somehow, unburdened by expectations, Simon seems like the perfect person to spill all her secrets to—including a hopeless, long-held crush on her sister’s boyfriend. Confident she’ll never see him again, Anna returns home… only to discover the next day that Simon is actually her father’s new curate!

Anna is beyond mortified, but Simon won’t let her retreat into her usual shyness—and for once Anna is forced to confront the past, and all the fears and feelings she’d tried so long to hide. But with his own heartache that needs to heal, can Simon help Anna to make this the most magical Christmas either of them have known?

About Kate Hewitt: Kate is the USA Today-bsetselling author of over 60 books of women's fiction and romance. She is the author of the Hartley-by-the-Sea series, set in England's Lake District and published by Penguin. She is also, under the name Katharine Swartz, the author of the Tales from Goswell books, a series of time-slip novels set in the village of Goswell. She also writes for Harlequin Presents.

She likes to read romance, mystery, the occasional straight historical and angsty women's fiction; she particularly enjoys reading about well-drawn characters and avoids high-concept plots.

Having lived in both New York City and a tiny village on the windswept northwest coast of England, she now resides in a market town in Wales with her husband, five children, and an overly affectionate Golden Retriever. You can read about her life at


“Well.” Anna took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Let’s talk about something else.” She reached for her barely-touched cider and drained the glass.
“All right. How long are you back in Thornthwaite for?”
“Ten days. My father has some announcement he and Mum want to make. They’re probably going to do the coast-to-coast walk or something.” She sighed wearily. “Sorry if I sound cynical.”
“You don’t. Pragmatic, maybe.”
“Where are you from?”
“Outside London. Nameless, boring suburb.”
“You’re a long way from home, then.”
“Yes, but I wanted to go somewhere I could be more known. And I’ve always loved the Lake District. Fell walking and all that. I’m probably going to have to get a dog.”
“Dogs do seem a prerequisite here,” Anna agreed.
She looked up from her drink, her lips slightly parted, her eyes a bit glassy. She was, Simon suspected, more than a little bit drunk, and on a pint of cider.
“You know why I came out here tonight?”
“To get away from my sister and her boyfriend. They surprised me, when I first got home. It was hard enough just being there and then Rachel announced she was dating Dan.” Anna shook her head, her lips pursed, while a frisson of recognition went through Simon. Rachel… Dan… “I had a crush on him when I was in school,” Anna confessed with a hard, little laugh. “Stupid, schoolgirl thing, but it felt pretty massive at the time. He saw me crying once… I was bullied, in school,” she said by way of explanation. “For the whole socially awkward thing. Mum and Dad never knew. But I suppose the crush took on this importance it never really had because the truth is, I’ve never had a proper boyfriend. The truth is, I’ve barely been kissed.” She looked up at him with wide, sad eyes. “Isn’t that pathetic? I’m twenty-eight years old.”
“Not pathetic,” Simon said carefully. He had a feeling Anna was going to regret telling him all this in the morning, especially now he had a feeling he knew who she was. “You’re just waiting for the right person.”
“I am,” she agreed, and hiccupped. “I’m just not sure he exists.”
“And I’m sure he’s out there. But it is getting a bit late. May I walk you home?”
“What? Oh, I’m fine.” She shook her head. “I might have another cider…”
“I don’t think that’s a good idea,” Simon said as gently as he could.
Anna’s widened. “Oh no, do you think I’m drunk? Am I drunk?”
“I think maybe a little,” Simon answered with a smile. “But you tell me.”
She paused, wrinkling her nose. “I don’t know. I only had two half-pints of cider, but I didn’t eat anything today except for a sandwich on the train.”
“I think,” Simon said, “the best thing for me to do is walk you home.”
“That’s not necessary—"

“I’m a gentleman. Humour me.”
With a huff, Anna slid off the stool and pushed her arms into the parka she’d slipped off at some point in the evening. Simon dropped a pound coin on the table for a tip and then put one hand lightly on the small of her back to steer her through the press of the drunken crowd.
“The Bell’s not that bad, actually,” she said once they were outside in the crisp, clear night.
Simon breathed in the cold air, marvelling at the beauty all around him. A sliver of moon illuminated the jagged peaks of the fells that surrounded the village on every side. In the distance, a sheep bleated, the only sound save for the rustling of the wind.
“Let’s get you home,” Simon said, and started towards the bridge that led to the church and the vicarage beyond.
Anna stopped right there on the pavement. “How do you know where I live?”
“I don’t,” Simon answered honestly, because he wasn’t sure and now was definitely not the time to explain who he was. “Why don’t you tell me?”
Anna started walking, brushing past him and starting towards the bridge. “This way,” she called back. “But you don’t have to come. I’m fine.”
Simon followed her, all the way to the lane that led to the church. Then Anna turned to him, looking soberer than she had in the pub. Perhaps the cold air had helped.
“I can take it from here. Thank you for listening, Simon.” She gave him a crooked smile. “We probably won’t see each other again.”
“I was glad to meet you, Anna.” And he decided not to tell her that they most certainly would meet again, in just a few hours. They could both cross that bridge when they came to it.
With a little wave, Anna turned and started down the lane. Simon watched until she was swallowed up in darkness, and then he waited until he heard the distant creak and click of the front door of the vicarage opening and closing. Then he turned and started back to home.
Now enter the Giveaway for your chance to win a copy of A Cotswold Christmas and a £10 Amazon giftcard! This competition is international so good luck!

I hope you have enjoyed reading an excerpt from this gorgeously Christmassy book by Kate Hewitt! I know I have! Please come back and see if you're the lucky winner! 

Love, Sarah

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