Published: 22nd October 2015
Available in Paperback and on Kindle
Two best friends. One big lie. The best bake off EVER. Bella Bradley is the queen of television baking - a national treasure. Her Christmas specials have been topping the ratings for years and her marriage to Peter 'Silver Fox' Bradley is the stuff of Hello magazine specials. But this year things are going to be different. For Amy Lane, Bella's best friend from school, life hasn't held quite the same sparkle. And when Amy's husband walks out three weeks from Christmas, it seems their lives are further apart than ever. Amy has watched Bella's rise to fame fondly, despite the fact Bella was always a terrible cook. But when she realises that Bella's latest Christmas book is made up entirely of Amy's mother's recipes, the gloves are off... After winning a competition to appear on Bella's TV show, Amy is going to make sure that for Bella and her viewers, this will definitely be a Christmas to remember... A hilarious, heart-breaking and feel good read about best friends, baking and the magic of Christmas.
After devouring Sue’s last Christmas book I was eager to read her next one and Bella’s Christmas Bake Off has all the ingredients for a perfect Christmas read for me. It was full of laugh out loud moments, entertaining characters, madcap plotlines all topped off with a sprinkling of glitz and glamour.
Amy Lane has just been left by her husband of twenty years for a younger, more flexible woman just weeks before Christmas. She’s gutted as she loves Christmas with all its trimmings and all the extra baking. In order to sooth her broken heart Amy switches on to watch her former childhood friend Bella Bradley serve up the perfect Christmas on her television show Bella’s Christmas Bake-Off. As she watches Amy notices that Bella is using recipes that Amy is very familiar with…because they were her mum’s.
In her anger Amy decides to enter Bella’s competition to win a Christmas cooked by Bella. When she wins Amy forces Bella to cook for the local homeless shelter St. Swithins or she’ll go public about Bella’s recipe stealing. When these two meet after twenty years the sparks fly but Amy begins to realise to how lucky she has been after the sparkly veneer of Bella’s life is peeled away.
Like her previous novels Sue has created characters that we can easy relate to because they’re not perfect! Amy is a little over-weight, she doesn’t make the best of her appearance and she’s jealous of what she believes Bella has, she does however have a caring side which makes her very likable. Although Bella appears to have the wonderful polished life that we can all lust after, once the cameras have gone away there is a very different and lonely woman left behind whose longing for friendship, this made her a very vulnerable and for me made a more likable.
I loved all the references to celebrity chefs such as Mary Berry and Nigella and the food! Oh my goodness, I don’t think it’s possible to read a Sue Watson book without having something to nibble on as the food descriptions are just delicious!
Bella’s Christmas Bake-Off is a book full of humour and comedy moments but by including the homeless shelter Sue has a given it a more serious element and this perfectly portrays the Christmas message that it’s not how much you have at Christmas that makes it special but who you share it with. The scenes from the homeless shelter felt really Christmassy to me when everyone came together to make the big Christmas dinner and these made the book all the more enjoyable.
This book is full of fun and Christmas spirit and I feel it would be the prefect book to read on Christmas Eve, providing of course you’ve stuffed your turkey and prepped your sprouts!
I’d like to thank Bookouture and Netgalley for allowing me to read an advanced copy of this book, I really enjoyed it and would rate it 4 out of 5.