The First Noel at the Villa des Violettes – my thoughts

The first Noel at the Villa des Violettes

The First Noël At The Villa Des Violettes

(women’s fiction)

Release date: November 15, 2018



206 pages

Author’s page | Goodreads


Everything was going so well in Kat and Philippe’s life together. Then suddenly it wasn’t.

Roman ruins delayed the work on the Villa desViolettes. The Russian drug gang might be back in the neighbourhood. On top of that, Kat had worked herself into what Molly classified as a full blown “Christmas conundrum.” Kat wanted the holidays to work perfectly as she blended a Canadian Christmas with a Provençal Fête de Noêl for the first time in their new home. Now she’d lost her confidence and, with it, the holiday spirit.

Philippe hoped a weekend trip to the famous Christmas markets of Strasbourg would solve everything. As it happened, things were about to get worse.


My thoughts:

What a treat to revisit these characters for their first Fête de Noêl together! Patricia Sands writes beautiful descriptions of their home, their friends, their neighborhood, and their travels. It is like taking a little trip to France! This is the first of a trilogy of novellas with these characters and it is a treat t know that we will learn more about their lives together. To add to the experience, follow Patricia Sands on Instagram to see her photography from this area – Kat speaks of her photography shoots of doorways and Patricia will give you the visuals!

A nice little Christmas read. Thanks for bringing them back!


Canadian author Patricia Sands writes award-winning women’s fiction. Her best-selling ‘Love in Provence trilogy’ was drafted in the south of France, where she spends time each year.

The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes is the first in a new trilogy of novellas.

Connect with Patricia

I Promise You This by Patricia Sands


I Promise You ThisI am thankful to have been given the opportunity to read the third in the Love in Provence trilogy in advance of release date.  I reviewed Patricia Sand’s first book in the trilogy, The Promise of Provence in July of 2013 (and it is a pretty great review, if I do say so myself, so please click through on this link and re-read it!), so when Emma from Words and Peace sent out an email looking for reviewers for the third in the series, I quickly devoured the second and signed up!   I received a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.  See below for a giveaway so that you can get your own copy!  

Patricia’s books read like travel guides with some plot thrown in.  The descriptions of the locales and the food and the people make it feel as though you’re there!  It helps that I follow Patricia’s Instagram account (@patricialsands) and see her eautiful photos of France and her travels ! Click HERE to see her travel journal and Fall in Love with Provence!  

The second book (Promises to Keep) finds Kat remaining in France with Philippe and exploring their relationship. There’s some drama and intrigue, but nothing scary.  I don’t do scary, after all.  The book ends with a cliff hanger and I Promise You This picks up with Kat returning to her native Toronto to care for her great friend who was in a bad auto accident.

This third and final book in the Love in Provence series has Kat looking in her heart and wondering if she can leave the first and only home she has known for a new life in France. Being in her childhood home while her friend recuperates from her life-threatening accident brings Kat closure – with her ex-husband’s betrayal and with her mother’s death.  She packs up her treasured memories and boxes them for their voyage to her new home in France, wondering if she will ever return.  She is never unsure about her feelings for Philippe and their life together in Provence, even though an old beau professes his feelings.

This is a satisfying  resolution to this story of a woman starting her life over after an emotional crisis. In the first book her mother taught her that “What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.” Her friends taught her to “Take a chance. Make a choice to change your life.” In this final book in the trilogy, her new found friend, Simone, teaches her “Once you choose to do what you really want to do, you will begin living a different kind of life. It will be the life you are meant to be living in that moment of time.”  Kat and Philippe are looking forward with great happiness to opening their Inn, to developing the website blending their love for photography and cheese (Fromagegraphie – love it!).  Their happiness exudes and Kat realizes that home is, truly, where your heart is.  

Kat and Philippe are living the life of their dreams – doing what they love, loving what they do.  Seems like I just read some articles about happiness that insist that very same theme – live authentically! (Like this one and this one!) And here are some quotes:

“Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” – Mahatma Ghandi

“The basic thing is that everyone wants happiness, no one wants suffering. And happiness mainly comes from our own attitude, rather than from external factors. If your own mental attitude is correct, even if you remain in a hostile atmosphere, you feel happy.” – HH The Dalai Lama

“Happiness cannot come from without. It must come from within. It is not what we see and touch or that which others do for us which makes us happy; it is that which we think and feel and do, first for the other fellow and then for ourselves.” – Helen Keller

As I said earlier, these books read as travel guides and make you yearn for your own travel adventures – thankfully I now have a fresh passport and am always ready!   France is definitely on the list!

Patricia Sands

on Tour

May 17-26


I Promise You This

I Promise You This

(women’s fiction)

Release date: May 17, 2016
at Lake Union Publishing

ISBN: 978-1503935723
365 pages

Author’s page | Goodreads



Suddenly single after twenty-two years of marriage, the calm of Katherine Price’s midlife has turned upside down. Seeking to find her true self, she took a chance on starting over. A year later, she is certain of this: she’s in love with Philippe and adores his idyllic French homeland, where he wants her to live with him.

But all that feels like a fantasy far removed from Toronto, where she’s helping her friend Molly, hospitalized after a life-threatening accident. Staying in her childhood home full of memories, Katherine wonders: Is she really ready to leave everything behind for an unknown life abroad? And if all her happiness lies with Philippe, will it last? Can she trust in love again?

Searching her heart, Katherine finds the pull of the familiar is stronger than she thought. An unexpected meeting with her ex, the first time since his cruel departure, and a stunning declaration of love from an old flame spur her introspection.

With sunlit backdrops and plot twists as breathtaking as the beaches of Côte d’Azur, author Patricia Sands brings her trilogy about second chances to a provocative and satisfying close that proves that a new life just might be possible—if you’re willing to let your heart lead you home.



I Promise You This Patricia Sands

A confessed travel-addict,
best-selling author
Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada,
when she isn’t somewhere else,
and calls the south of France her second home.
I Promise You This,
is Book 3 in her award-winning Love in Provence series.
Find Patricia on Facebook,
on Twitter
on Instagram
at her Amazon Author Page
or her website

Subscribe to her mailing list and get information about new releases.

Buy the book : | | | | available on Barnes & Noble on May 17


You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open internationally:
10 participants will each win a copy of this book, print or digital



I Promise You This Banner


The Promise of Provence

France book tour
The Promise of Provence

When Emma at Words and Peace asked if I would review this book for her France Book Tours ,   I wasn’t sure, as I’m not much of a reviewer.  I love to read and I love to give my feelings about books.  But to dissect them and truly “review” them?  Well, I will do my best.  AND, if you read to the end, you will learn how YOU can win your own e-copy of this book!  Woot!

France book tour
France Boosk Tours

I don’t have too much in common with Katherine (Katica, Kat):  she is a research assistant for a specialist in the study of pain.  She has her PhD and loves her job (no PhD for me, but do love my job!).  She thinks life is going along as normal, and then on her anniversary her husband drops the bomb:  he is with someone else and going to be having a baby.  Her life is forever changed and she feels that her past was a lie.  Anger, betrayal, sadness.  She moves in with her mother who reminds her of Nietzsche’s philosophy, which is also her own, that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

Thought this related
Thought this related

So, thankfully I haven’t been betrayed in such a terrible way by a person in a relationship, but I have had the experience of “starting over” and re-evaluating life a few times.  When my daughter went to college, I remember feeling so sad that I wasn’t even able to face the empty house after drop-off day.  And then suddenly I recognized that I had freedom – and my motto became “I can do whatever I want!”  It was a great year of being foot-loose and fancy free!  For the first time since forever.

And then the flood happened and took our house and personal belongings and rocked our world a little bit (understatement?).  I highlighted a line in Patricia Sand’s book that reflected my feelings after that time:

“How is it, when my heart is so broken, the world can still be such a beautiful place? It isn’t right. It isn’t appropriate or fair. Everyone and everything should be suffering like I am.”

Going to work, watching people mow their lawns, seeing that life was “normal” everywhere else, was hard to bear some days.  But life does go on.  And on and on.

In The Promise of Provence, Kat is encouraged by her great friends, friends whose relationships she began to nourish and cherish as never before.  If you know me, you know that I believe in and value the power of friendships – I’m so glad that it was part of this book!  Kat also discovers the world of “home exchanges” and her life is never the same.  She chooses to swap homes with a family in Provence, the land of Peter Mayle novels.  She has traveled to France in her younger days and is glad to revisit.  During her first visit she finds that it is OK to be alone.  OK to embrace change.  She discovers the life of plaisir – pleasure.  

Mirella:  “You know, Katherine, we are masters in the art of plasir.  It is the underlying theme of life here.  In spite of the many negatives in our society today, the French continue to strive to be artful, exquisite.  It is a legacy we do not want to lose.

“It combines with the art of seduction… la seduction,” Joy interjected, with a knowing smile.  “It’s a virtuous skill here to seduce and touch all the senses with fashion, cuisine, wine, scent, words…

Also the world of pastis (an anise flavored liqueur and aperitif of France) and petanque (a French game of boules, which is like bocce ball)and panier (a basket for carrying provisions) .  She meets Philippe and Picasso and hopes to someday return.  Not long after, an opportunity arises and she goes – for longer this time, and during her second home exchange she discovers that she truly is self-reliant and feels at home.  

Katherine: “Anyu’s words to me about being alone, about finding strength in being alone, live inside me all the time.  They’re empowering.”

I thought the end of my marriage was the door slamming on my life but instead it turns out to have opened the door of opportunity.”  

Isn’t that the way life is?

The Promise of Provence is full of popular culture references (Downton Abbey!) and also things that I had to look up.  One thing I looked up was quite a treat!  In Cap d’Antibes, Katherine speaks with Philippe about La Grande Nomade, which she can see from her windows.  The art feature is by artist Jaume Plensa and Philippe tells Kat about the artist’s philosophy:

“I read an interview with him that touched me deeply. The feeling he expresses through this work is that letters are like bricks.  They help us to construct our thoughts.  He described his belief that our skin is permanently and invisibly tattooed with the text of our life experiences and then someone comes along – a friend, a lover – who is able to decipher these tattoos.”

I had to see what this art work was so I went to Google…

English: Nomade sculpture by Jaume Plensa, tak...
English: Nomade sculpture by Jaume Plensa, taken in Antibes, Provence-alpes-cote d’Azur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

and lo and behold, I have a photo of one his pieces – the same piece – not in Cap d’Antibes, but in Des Moines, IA!  How fun.  We loved discovering the “Letterman,” as we called him, in the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden one spring day.

des moines sculpture garden
Plensa’s “Nomade” in Des Moines

From Wikipedia: Plensa says, “Telles des briques, les lettres ont une potentialité de construction, elles nous permettent de construire une pensée”.  (Such bricks, letters have the potential to construct, they enable us to construct a thought.)

I received this book as a gift from the author, and although there were times that plodded along for me, it truly was a gift – a reminder that it is always good to seek the plaisir in life, enjoy each moment, savor your friendships, and to be ready for adventure.

“Each day is a gift, Katica.  Try to live your life knowing what matters most and always, always, remember… what doesn’t kill us… ” 


And now, as promised, a gift for you!  

Please leave a comment below and you will be entered to win a copy of The Promise of Provence in e-book style!

Winner will be drawn at random and announced on Tuesday, July 9.  

Also click through below to learn more about the book, about the author!  I know that I’m putting her first book The Bridge Club in my TBR list!

The Promise of Provence Synopsis

             June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves overlooked by ancient hilltop villages. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?

After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.

Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?

“Be prepared to fall in love with Provence! This is a story that will draw you in with its vibrancy in setting and characters. A must read for any woman with a desire for romance and travel.”     Steena Holmes, author of Amazon bestseller Finding Emma

Publication Date: May 30, 2013

457 pages,  ISBN 9780991931316    Published through CreateSpace

Available on Amazon worldwide     USA   Canada   UK    FR and may be ordered at any bookstore.


Author bio:

Patricia Sands
Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France. With a focus on women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, she has heard from readers ages 20 to 83.

Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010.

Her second novel, The Promise of Provence is an Amazon Hot New Release as of April 2013.

Pop in to visit her at: