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Books to escape on a virtual holiday

Here's six novels to make you feel like you're away - almost as good travelling abroad.

Pack your swimsuit and mix up a jug of Sangria. While holidays and proper travel is still off the cards, how about heading on holiday via your novel instead? Choose your destination, fasten your seatbelt, we’re ready for take-off – plus win them all in our reader treat.

PROVENCE: Escape to the Little Chateau by Marie Laval

Amy Carter is determined to make her farmhouse hotel in Provence a success. She’s put everything into it, and she has something to prove – particularly to the handsome but arrogant owner of the nearby château. Could Fabien be the man to help prevent her Provençal dream from turning into a nightmare?

PARIS: Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara

A power cut in a French museum brings together two teenagers from opposite sides of the tracks and leads to an epic journey across decades and continents. Over the course of twenty years, Zara and Leon are destined to fall in love again and again. But will they ever find a way to be together?

AUSTRALIA: Close to Home by Janet Gover

Aunt Alice Dwyer loves her small Australian town. She’s rarely left its comforting embrace. She knows everyone in it; in fact, she’s related to most of them. All she wants is to keep her family safe and the town running exactly the way it always has. Her way. But when an exotic French artist comes to town, her hold begins to weaken…

Lucienne Chevalier, once the toast of Europe, has come to Nyringa after a tragic loss to hang up her sequins and create a place for her circus family to rest between tours. With her is Simon, her grandson, recovering from an injury so damaging he can no longer perform. Lucienne fears he’ll never embrace a new future. That is, until she notices the chemistry between him and the new schoolteacher… All they need is a push.

Both grande dames think they know what’s best, but with equal amounts of stubbornness on both sides, peace looks unlikely. Then a relationship between Alice’s rebellious great-niece and a teenage acrobat sets the two communities on a collision course. But when the bakery starts making patisseries over lamingtons, the battle lines are truly drawn…

SICILY: The House by the Sea by Louise Douglas

Winner of the RNA’s 2021 Jackie Collins Romantic Thriller Award, Louise’s novel was inspired by family holidays to Sicily and a passion for Inspector Montalbano, both the literary and the television versions. The House by the Sea is set mainly in the real-life locations which represent the fictional towns and cities in the TV adaptations of the Andrea Camilleri books. 

Edie blames Joe’s mother, Anna, for the tragedy that caused the bitter rift between her and her estranged husband Joe. Each frozen by grief, they are reunited in Sicily by Anna’s will, but Edie is determined she won’t be manipulated from beyond the grave.

ISLE OF WIGHT: Sunny Days and Sea Breezes by Carole Matthews

Jodie Jackson escapes to the Isle of Wight to leave her past behind her. She’d like to turn back the clocks but will settle for some peace and quiet on her brother’s renovated houseboat. But when her old life comes knocking, Jodie is forced to face reality.

SCOTLAND: The Garden of Little Rose by Suzanne Snow

 At a hen party on the remote Scottish island of Alana, Flora is dared to ask a handsome stranger to be her plus-one for the wedding. When the gorgeous Mac accepts her invitation, she assumes he’s joking and thinks nothing more of it … until he turns up at the church on the wedding day.

But Mac has an agenda. He wants to hire her skills as a garden historian to restore the gardens at Róisín House, his home back on Alana. Flora knows she should refuse – Mac has ‘heartbreaker’ written all over him – but she can’t resist uncovering the tragic truth behind the garden at Róisín. And when Flora meets a little girl on Alana living with devastating loss, a strong bond is created between them when Flora shares her passion and belief in the ability of a garden to heal. Transported by the beauty of the island, Flora can’t help but fall in love with Alana, and the man who brought her there.

But for love to grow, Flora will first have to dig up the past.

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