Blog Tour: 'Christmas at the Cornish Cafe' by Phillipa Ashley!
I'm really excited to be part of the blog tour for Phillipa Ashley's holiday-themed release 'Christmas at the Cornish Cafe' today! Be sure to check out the exclusive extract I am allowed to share with all of you today by scrolling down and visit some of the other blogs that are part of the tour if you're curious to read more about the novel; the links can be found on the blog tour poster below!
Christmas will be slightly less turbulent than summer, won’t it? Demi certainly hopes so.
She and Cal are keeping their fledgling relationship under wraps for now. But then Kit Bannen, a hunky, blond – and somewhat mysterious – writer arrives at Kilhallon Resort, and not everyone is charmed. Cal is sure that Kit is hiding something. But is he the only one guarding a secret?
Demi is busy baking festive treats for the newly opened Demelza’s cafe, but when Cal’s ex Isla arrives to shoot scenes for her new drama, Demi can’t help but worry that things aren’t quite over between them. Kit flirts with both women, fuelling Cal’s suspicions that Kit has hidden motives for staying on at Kilhallon. Then Cal has to go to London, leaving Demi and Kit to decorate the cafe for Christmas . . . all by themselves.
A storm is brewing in more ways than one. As surprises unfold and truths are uncovered, can Demi and Cal finally open up to each other about their feelings?
This second novel in the bestselling Cornish Cafe series is the perfect book to curl up with this Christmas.
‘All I want for Christmas … is youuuuuu!’
Humming along to Mariah Carey, I do a little jig in front of the Aga in Kilhallon House, waiting for the kitchen timer to ping. A few more minutes should just about do it.
I came straight back to my baking after I’d shown Mr Bannen – sorry, Kit – the basics of Enys Cottage. Enys is our cosiest cottage, perfect for two or, in his case, one – so my first guest tour didn’t take too long. I left him not exactly smiling, but opening a bottle of wine and about to tuck in to the quiche. I’m glad that my boss, Cal, and Polly his PA will be taking over management of the park after Thursday, leaving me to concentrate on my main passion, the cafe and its food, of course.
Cal texted me while I showed Kit to his cottage. He was about to greet a group from Surrey who have rented some of our glamping yurts. If Kit’s journey was anything to go by, they’ll be tired and frazzled too. The field is thick with mud after the storm so I don’t envy him having to meet them, although hopefully this sunshine will lift their mood, not to mention the welcome hamper of treats that awaits them in their yurts.
Once all my mince pies are cooked and cooled, I need to set up some shots that I can upload to my Demelza’s blog and use on social media to promote the seasonal menus. The more bookings we can get for lunches and events, the better. I need to repay Cal’s faith in me, not to mention his investment in my cafe. It was my idea, after all.
A peek outside the kitchen door confirms to me that the weather is definitely warming up again, and there is now more blue in the sky than clouds. A late burst of sunshine is just what we need to attract customers to Demelza’s Cafe; I hope it lasts for our opening day on Thursday, and over the weekend. We might get some last-minute bookings for Cal’s cottages and yurts too.
And after the tough time we’ve both had lately, we’re surely due a run of good luck now, right?
‘All I want for Christmas is youoooooo!’
As Mariah hits an impossibly high note, the kitchen timer finally pings. The moment I open the Aga door, a wave of heat blasts my face, instantly followed by the overwhelming aroma of spices and dried fruit. The pies are a perfect shade of light golden brown, the honeyed blond of a surf dude’s tint. The Viennese biscuit topping was a little time-consuming, if I’m honest, so I’m not sure if I’ll add that to the cafe menu, but they look very pretty and smell gorgeous, so we’ll see. Carefully, because the oven mitts in the kitchen of Kilhallon House have seen some action lately and need replacing, I extricate the pies from the oven, knowing I’m about seven seconds from scorched fingers.
I straighten up, clutching the tray in one hand, while closing the door with the other.
‘Phew, it’s roasting in here.’
A familiar voice behind me makes my pies wobble alarmingly. Just in time, I save them from sliding onto the quarry-tiled floor where my dog, Mitch, looks on hopefully from his bed by the back door.
If I thought Kit was wet, Cal looks like Mitch after he’s had a dip in the sea. Water drips from his coat.
‘How was he, then, this Mr Bannen?’ he asks, peeling off his waxed jacket.
‘Oh, you mean Kit?’
Cal raises an eyebrow. ‘First name terms, already, eh? And Kit? Sounds like a dog’s name … or a hamster’s.’
‘I promise you there’s nothing cute and furry about Mr Bannen, and the Kit is short for Christopher. He was stressed out, tired and pissed off about the cafe not being open, but he seemed happy enough when I showed him into Enys Cottage and gave him some free mince pies.’
‘Funny that he’s on his own for two whole weeks.’ Cal holds up his jacket with a grimace. The rain has seeped down his collar to his T-shirt, leaving a large damp patch over the chest. The grey cotton is plastered across his broad shoulders and pecs, and his nipples are like tight little currants. A taut-yet-melty feeling stirs low in my stomach.
Did I say Cal was my boss and more than a friend? That might have only been part of the truth …
‘What’s up?’ he asks.
The second batch of pies will definitely be burned if I let on to him how turned on I am. ‘Nothing. Just thinking how wet you are, that’s all.’
He glares at me, but even his glares are sexy. ‘It’s not funny.’
‘I think you looking like a drowned rat – or hamster – is very funny.’
With another stern look that turns me into a puddle, he bends down to take off his Hunters. ‘Any more cheek, Ms Jones, and I may have to sack you.’
The mention of cheek makes me think of his gorgeous bottom, not to mention the warmth of his hand on mine. His arse is thrust into the air as he pulls off his wellies, grunting with the effort. I scoop up his jacket from the tiles and add it to the others hanging in the vestibule that separates the reception area from the main Kilhallon House. Cal pops his mud-spattered Hunters in the drip tray by the kitchen door.
‘I wonder if there’s a Mrs Bannen somewhere,’ he says.
‘He didn’t mention one.’
‘No girlfriend or boyfriend? Both?’ His espresso-coloured eyes hold a hint of mischief.
‘He did say “everyone calls me Kit” so he must have some friends and family. He definitely didn’t want to talk about his work though, so I think he’s had a stressful time in London.’
‘Tell me about it,’ Cal says, standing on the tiles in his woolly hiking socks with a grimace on his tanned face. Even the sight of those rugged socks are turning me on which must mean I’ve got it very bad. At least he doesn’t know quite how bad. Cal and I have been rubbing along in this relationship for the past few weeks. It’s as rocky and twisty-turny as the coastal path, and as uncertain as the weather in our part of the county. One day there are storms between us, the next clear blue skies – and sometimes four seasons in one day. There’s no formal arrangement between us and I have no intention of moving into Kilhallon House itself, but while Polly is away, we sneak nights together in his bed.
You see, Cal may be more than a boss but he’s also not entirely mine. Not that he’s actually sleeping with anyone else, but only part of him belongs to me. His socks, perhaps … if I’m lucky. You see, I still suspect his heart lies with his ex, even though he said that I’d made a mark on him and he begged me to stay just a few weeks ago.
My stomach clenches at the reminder of how new and fragile our relationship is.
I remind myself not to start getting any stupid ideas about Cal that involve hearts and flowers, let alone love and marriage.