Published by Harper Collins
Available in ebook, audio and paperback (12 November 2020)
ABOUT THE BOOK
My thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for the invitation to take part. Having enjoyed Cressida’s books before, I would have liked to have been able to fit in a review for this but my diary wouldn’t allow it 😢 so for my turn, I have an extract which I hope you enjoy.
Hannah Swan is looking forward to Christmas for the first time in years. Her new job as an eco-consultant is taking her – and her geeky colleague, Noah – to the beautiful Cornish village of Porthgolow for the first time.
They’re are helping the Crystal Waters Hotel to ramp up its green credentials, though after a bumpy journey, Hannah can’t shake off the feeling that Porthgolow is strangely familiar. Never able to resist a mystery, her interest is piqued when the hotel’s staff and customers report odd noises and sightings, believing the hotel to be haunted.
When bad weather cuts off Porthgolow, Hannah and Noah are looking at a Cornish Christmas. It gives them plenty of time to work out what is really going on, but will their yuletide escape send shivers up their spines? Or will it be as warm and toasty as a glass of mulled wine?
Hannah Swan sat in her allocated window seat and felt a faint pang of disappointment. On the walk from her flat to Waverley station, despite the early hour, Edinburgh had been so full of twinkling Christmas lights – strung up in the trees of Princes Street Gardens, and as part of sumptuous festive window displays – that the faded fabric of her seat and plain Formica table were a letdown. The only burst of colour came from a poster advertising mini-breaks in the Scottish Highlands, and the lush greens and endless blue sky were entirely wrong for this time of year. Hannah loved Christmas, and her train was sadly lacking in adornment.
It was the fourth of December, a Friday, and she was on her way to the other end of the country; to a Cornish village called Porthgolow, to spend a week assessing the green credentials of a spa hotel. She gave a brief shake of her head as a man settled into the seat opposite and held a newspaper open in front of his face. All her carefully orchestrated plans: the friends’ Christmas that she always held on the twenty third; present-buying and -wrapping; decorating her tiny flat and helping her mum put up her tree. She would somehow have to fit them all in when she got back.
She had only been working as an eco-consultant for Green Futures for six months, and this was her very first client. Gerald, her boss, had initially been reluctant to send Hannah on her own, but when her colleague, Brad – who unsurprisingly had a myriad of reasons why he couldn’t take such a long trip a few weeks before Christmas – had suggested Hannah could work with one of the freelancers based in Cornwall, Gerald had agreed. It was the best of both worlds: a member of his core team to show the hotel owner, Daniel Harper, how committed they were to his case, and an experienced freelancer who had local knowledge.
Sitting in the cool meeting room with a view of Edinburgh Castle beyond the rain-splattered glass, Hannah had been overjoyed. It wasn’t until she was on her way to meet her friend that evening that reality had set in.
‘Why did you accept it?’ Saskia had asked once they were settled in the pub, festive foil decorations looped across the ceiling. ‘Why go now, just before Christmas, instead of taking the next case he offered you in the New Year?’
‘I have to show willing,’ Hannah had replied. ‘I have to prove myself.’
‘Do you think Gerald had that in the forefront of his mind when he let you accept a case that nobody with any sense would take?’ Saskia’s dark eyes had flashed. ‘It’s bloody freezing, it’s nearly Christmas and it’s hundreds of miles away. Not to mention your company policy means you can’t hop on a plane and be there in a couple of hours.’
Hannah had squirmed in her seat. ‘Gerald’s not a game player. He’s keen for me to get out there. Also, Sask, how can we tell people how to look after the planet if we’re flying everywhere? Trains are the best option.’
‘But what about your plans?’ Saskia had pressed. ‘The friends’ Christmas? Strategy is your middle name, and I can’t imagine how you’re going to fit everything in once you’re back. You know I’ll help as much as I can, I just don’t want you getting stressed.’
‘I’ll re-strategize then,’ Hannah had said, hoping Saskia couldn’t see that she was slightly hurt to be given no credit for spontaneity. It was true that she liked to be prepared, but she wasn’t a total stick-in-the-mud. ‘Besides,’ she’d continued, ‘I’m not solely responsible for the Crystal Waters project, so I won’t get stressed.’
‘Ah yes, your babysitter,’ Saskia had grinned. ‘Gerald’s covered his bases.’
‘Exactly.’ Hannah had nodded, determined. ‘My freelancer.’ She didn’t like to think of someone babysitting her – that person being somebody called Noah Rosewall, apparently one of Gerald’s trusted contacts, who lived an hour away from Porthgolow.
It was a strange situation where Hannah, as a Green Futures employee, would be leading on the case, but Noah would have more experience. Hannah hoped they would work well together, despite the unusual set-up and the fact they’d never met before, and that she could prove to Gerald she deserved her place on his team.
The train juddered awake and Hannah held on to her coffee and her almond croissant. It had been too early to have breakfast at home, and she needed fortification for the long journey. What she hadn’t told Saskia was that, as well as wanting to get her first project under her belt, she had felt the pull of Cornwall like a familiar song tugging at her heartstrings.
**If you’re an ereader and have been tempted by the extract 😄 the Kindle version is currently only 99p to download on Amazon UK
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cressy was born in South East London surrounded by books and with a cat named after Lawrence of Arabia. She studied English at the University of East Anglia and now lives in Norwich with her husband David. When she isn’t writing, Cressy spends her spare time reading, returning to London or exploring the beautiful Norfolk coastline.