Renee Conoulty: What Happens at Christmas by T.A. Williams **Guest Post, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway**


Friday, 6 November 2015

What Happens at Christmas by T.A. Williams **Guest Post, Excerpt, Review & Giveaway**

Hey Everyone!

I'd love to introduce you to TA Williams, who is on tour with his latest book, What Happens at Christmas.

Firstly, my name isn't T A. It's Trevor. I write under the androgynous name T A Williams because 65% of books are read by women. In my first book, "Dirty Minds" one of the (female) characters suggests the imbalance is due to the fact that men spend too much time getting drunk and watching football. I couldn't possibly comment. Ask my wife...
I've written all sorts: thrillers, historical novels, short stories and now I'm enjoying myself hugely writing humour and romance. Romantic comedies are what we all need from time to time. Life isn’t always very fair. It isn’t always a lot of fun, but when it is, we need to embrace it. If my books can put a smile on your face and maybe give your heartstrings a tug, then I know I’ve done my job.
I‘ve lived all over Europe, but now I live in a little village in sleepy Devon, tucked away in south west England. I love the place. That’s why you’ll find leafy lanes and thatched cottages in most of my books. Oh, yes, and a black Labrador.  

I've been writing since I was 14 and that is half a century ago. However, underneath this bald, wrinkly exterior, there beats the heart of a youngster. My wife is convinced I will never grow up. I hope she's right.
Connect with Trevor via

Guest Post

Do I put myself into my books?

   Well, not at first sight. For a start, most of the men in my books are half my age and far, far better-looking. And none of them so far has been bald and short-sighted. I probably have more in common with some of the Labradors in my books than my leading men.

   So, does that mean I’m nowhere to be found in my books? Very much the opposite, in fact. They say you should write about what you know and I do that all the time. My books are set in places I know well like Tuscany, where I lived for years, like Cornwall or Devon where I was born and where I live once again. When Alice Met Danny was set in a small Devon village, What Happens in Cornwall… on a fictitious Cornish island just down the road from here and the latest book, What Happens at Christmas… is also in a village, this time on the edge of Dartmoor National Park.

   Anybody who knows my work will know that there’s always a black Labrador in all my books. And all of those canine characters are based on my beloved Merlin, the abused child we rescued from a terrible fate and who became a much-loved member of the Williams family. My Labs are affectionate, understanding, with a great talent for listening, and, while not necessarily the most obedient of animals, they can always be trusted to provide support and unqualified love. That’s very definitely something to be prized in this day and age.

   What about my girls? Well, although I choose to make my main characters female in most of my books, they aren’t swooning violets, ready to burst into tears or have hysterics at the drop of a hat. My girls are, hopefully, not that different from me. That’s as far as their emotions and reactions are concerned; obviously there are a few anatomical differences between us. When they have problems, they deal with them. When they are unhappy, they do their best to snap out of it and get on with life. They aren’t silly. They can spot a baddie a mile off. The evil count in What Happens in Tuscanystarts sparking suspicions in Katie’s mind from her first sight of him. Samantha knows right away that medallion-wearing, fake tan-sporting Miles isn’t all he appears to be in What Happens in Cornwall .

   Then, take Holly in What Happens at Christmas… for instance. She isn’t a very girly girl. Her hobby is restoring classic cars and the love of her life – at least at the start of the book – is a thirty year old Porsche with a leak in the cooling system. Yes, she has a thing about shoes. Well, to be honest, we’re talking more than just a thing. Probably a fixation is a better word for her Jimmy Choos and her Alexander McQueens, but when she sticks her foot into a pile of horse poo, she just curses under her breath and finds a clump of grass to clean them off. Sort of an equine equivalent of not crying over spilt milk.

   When Holly is finding out more and more about the father she grew up hating, her emotions come close to the surface. She cries. In fact she cries quite a lot. But, to be totally honest, I actually still find myself with stinging eyes when I read some of the passages – and, after all, I made them up and know they aren’t real. Emotionally,  men and women aren’t that far apart.

   I could tell you more about the love Holly and I share for cream teas, why she and I always choose mussels and chips if they’re on the menu and that we both lust after the 7 litre 1932 Rolls Royce in the book, but you get the picture. She drinks Sancerre and Menetou Salon because that’s what I love doing. She settles down in a little Devon village because that’s what I’ve done and she always keeps her sense of humour. All in all, there’s an awful lot of me in my books.

What Happens at Christmas by T.A. Williams

For the perfect Christmas…

When career-girl Holly Brice learns that her estranged father has died, she decides to take a trip down memory lane and find out about the man she never knew.

Arriving in the sleepy little Dartmoor village, she’s shocked to discover that she’s inherited the cosy little cottage she remembers so fondly, a whole load of money – and her father’s adorable dog, too!

Head to snow-covered Devon!

And as the first snowflakes begin to fall and Holly bumps into her gorgeous neighbour, Jack Nelson, life gets even more complicated! Men have always been off the cards for high-flying Holly, but there’s something about mysterious writer Jack that has her re-thinking her three-date rule…

Hey! Here's my review.

What Happens at Christmas, as the name suggests, is set during the lead up to Christmas. I loved Holly, and enjoyed going with her on her journey of discovery about her father, who abandoned her when she was young. The characters she met on the way ranged from gorgeous to quirky and I especially loved the dog. A couple of the dog scenes left me with tears in my eyes. 

I received this book free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This is the first of Trevor's books I've read and I'm looking forward to reading more. If you like romantic comedies with depth, that get you in the mood for Christmas, give this a go.


  • Where: Bliss Book Promo via NetGalley
  • Format: ebook

Purchase link

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All in all, Holly had a reasonable night’s sleep. The only interruption came at around three o’clock in the morning, when she was woken by a noise. By this time, moonlight was flooding into the room and she got the shock of her life when she saw the bedroom door swing open. She was already backing away to the far side of the bed, looking for a weapon of any description, when the dog’s head appeared.
‘Oh, for Christ’s sake, Stirling…’
The dog must have interpreted her use of his name as an invitation, as he proceeded to climb up onto the bed, where he dropped on top of her with a sigh. She had to struggle for a few moments to push him off her and down onto the floor again. ‘No, Stirling. Bad dog.’ He sat down beside the bed and stared at her. She could see two little moons reflected back at her in his big eyes. ‘Go downstairs, Stirling.’ He didn’t move. ‘Oh, for crying out loud please go back to your bed, would you? I want to go to sleep.’ She closed her eyes and lay back down again, hoping that he would take the hint. She counted silently up to sixty and then risked opening her eyes a fraction. His face was still there, his gaze unblinkingly fixed on her.
‘Oh, God…’ She swung out of bed and reached for a pair of shoes. It was cold in the room, although the thick feather duvet had kept her warm in bed. She retrieved her jumper from the chair and led the dog down the stairs. In the kitchen, it was warmer, but the stove was now cool enough to touch. She went over to the table, lit one of the candles and looked down at the dog, who was still staring at her impassively.
‘Listen Stirling, we are not going out for a w… W, A, L, K. Got it? It’s the middle of the night and we both should be asleep. Go in your basket.’ She had to repeat it a few times and add a few gestures, but finally he got the message and climbed into his bed. He slumped down, but his eyes were looking so mournful that eventually she grabbed a cushion and settled on the cold stone floor beside him. She stroked his head and he stretched out a huge paw and pressed it against her. She caught hold of it in her other hand and they stayed like that for some minutes, as his eyes gradually closed and he settled down.
As she sat there, looking at him, she reflected that only a few months ago, her father might have been here, doing the same thing. Maybe that was what was disturbing Stirling. She looked around the room, but there were few personal objects on display. Her dad’s jacket still hung on the back of the door, a strong pair of walking boots peeked out of the broom cupboard and a cricket bat leant against the window seat. She closed her eyes and conjured up the image of his face from the photo beside his bed. Seeing it had brought back so many memories; from a sandy beach holiday, to a trip to the hospital when they thought she had broken her arm. Her dad’s loving, comforting face had been there with her on those occasions and so many others and then, just like that, he had disappeared from her life, forever.

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