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The Little Book of Lost Hearts by Valerie-Anne Baglietto

At this time of year, there is nothing better than settling down on the sofa and losing yourself in a story full of love, hope and a hint of mystery and magic. The Little Book Of Lost Hearts is exactly that. A festive treat and a proper fairytale for grown-ups.
Set in the enchantingly named village of Fools Castle in the days leading up to Christmas, this story has the feel-good factor and will leave you feeling all warm and cosy inside, as well as remembering the days when Christmas was truly magical and you really believed in Santa.
Antoinette Ellis has lost her heart. It happened quite unexpectedly when her beloved sister and brother-in-law died and she took over the care of her niece, Tabitha, the only survivor of the horrendous fire which killed her parents. Antoinette, or Nettie, grieving and in shock, determined to do the right thing by the little girl, puts all her own dreams and hopes aside. In spite of his protests that he wants to be with her and help her take care of Tabitha, Nettie says goodbye to the man she loves, knowing that his career plans did not include the guardianship of a child.
Leaving London and her old life behind, she returns to her childhood home of Fools Castle, where her brother Sawyer is in a similar situation, taking care of his two stepchildren after the death of his wife. Life for them both revolves around caring for the children and earning a living.
Then one day, a stranger arrives in Fools Castle. Rufus is an unusual man, obviously not used to socialising, the “black sheep” of his “famous” family. In spite of all Antoinette’s efforts, Rufus will not reveal anything more about them or himself, but before long he is part of her life and proves popular with the children, too.
But someone else is heading to Fools Castle, and before long Nettie will have to face up to her past and the decisions she once made, as well as accepting what her future may hold if she doesn’t change course. Can she reclaim her heart and find her way back to love? Or is she destined for a life of sacrifice and ultimately loneliness? And what, if anything, does Rufus have to do with all this?

This is a short story which can be read in a couple of hours. In the hectic run-up to Christmas, take the time to curl up by the fire, beside the twinkling lights of the Christmas tree, and lose yourself in this delightful festive treat. Look back to the time you believed in magic, and remember, you’re never too old for fairytales.  5/5

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