Christmas Ever After by Sarah Morgan
Publishing Date: 22nd October 2015
Series: Puffin Island #3
Source: Copy provided by the publisher, thank you!
Genre: Literature/Fiction (Adult), Women’s Fiction, Contemporary
Skylar Tempest has never understood Alec Hunter’s appeal. So what if he’s a world-renowned historian? He’s also cynical, aloof and determined to think the worst of her. So when a twist of fate finds her spending the lead-up to Christmas with Alec and his family, she’s not expecting the season to be either merry or bright.
Alec has learned the hard way not to trust beautiful women—and Skylar is the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen. But as he watches her throw herself into his family’s festive chaos, Alec realises there is far more to this blonde bombshell than meets the eye.
With Christmas around the corner, Alec and Skylar return to Puffin Island, a tentative bond forged between them. Neither intends to fall in love but as the nights become darker, and the fire between them grows hotter, could this be the chance for Alec and Skylar to find their own happy ending?
Even though Sarah Morgan has written plenty of books, Christmas in the Snow is only my second read by this author, though even with only two books under my belt I can see where this love that so many readers feel for her is coming from. Personally, I loved Maybe this Christmas that I read last year, and after hearing only lovely things about the newest release, I couldn’t wait to dive into my copy.
I knew that Christmas Ever After is the third book in the Puffin Island series and having not read the previous books I was really afraid to start this one – I was scared that perhaps I should read them in the right order. But after being assured that I can read this novel without reading the previous two, I more then happily obliged. And that’s true – despite the fact that there is a group of friends who know each other really well, who share some history, and who are connected through Puffin Island, Christmas Ever After can be easily read as a stand – alone book. Nevertheless, I will be trying to squeeze reading the earlier books somewhere between all my review copies, as Skylar and Alec’s background sounds just brilliant, and I’d love to see their interactions from earlier.
This book is fast – paced and full to brims with action – I don’t want to tell more to spoil the reading for you, but there was not a single moment flat, even with those dragging on a little passages, there was all the time something happening. The author takes us on a journey from snowy London, to the British countryside, to Puffin Island, and being in all those places with the characters felt just great. One of the best things in this book is the relationship between Sky and Alec – for me, who didn’t read the previous books, it was obvious they have a history, and that it is a very turbulent history. To say they don’t like each other would be an understatement – but the fate was throwing them together again and again, and the tension between them, and then sparks were absolutely brilliantly captured, felt so incredibly realistic and the descriptions of their emotions just touched at my heartstrings. Seeing them growing together was one of the highlights, as it was not so obvious they’ll grow together at all. Ha! And I really liked their characters. Yes, the situation with Sky’s parents and the way she let them tell her how to lead her life was one of the weakest links for me, but she turned out to be a clever woman, and her ripostes were to die for. She was so talented, I loved her ideas and the jewellery she made, and it pained me to see how self – depreciating she is, how she holds back because of her parents and controlling boyfriend. Also, I was not sure why she doesn’t like Alec so much, Alec – who, apart of being a little bitter and cynical (and he had his reasons!), was a great person, inside and outside.
As I have already mentioned, the subplot with Skylar’s parents and Richard didn’t work so much for me. I mean, no matter who the parents are, we live in 21st century, right? The way Sky’s relationship with Richard was „organized” just didn’t sit with me, it was much too far – fetched for my liking, much too impossible and somehow, it just didn’t fit Skylar and her personality. It took her really long to realise that the expectations of her family (the way she called her father „Judge” or when she reminded how they were forced to „Object” at the table just gave me shivers) and her own expectations don’t have anything in common, that she must live her life according to her own rules, but when it happened, I felt really proud of her. The difference between Sky and Alec’s families was like day and night and I fell in love with his family as quickly as Sky did – they were so incredibly warm and open, and I adored the way the were. They were the whole package, the full service, as they came not only with two labradors, but with mulled wine, mince pies, noisy younger sister and an overwhelming feeling of being welcome, and I just loved it, because they were so much like my own family.
I definitely found the part of the book taking place in London and at Alec’s parents’ house much more appealing, much more quicker, and much more funnier than when they moved back to Puffin Island – I was just so drown in Alec and Sky’s story that all the mentions of their friends, their problems just made me feel I am being pulled away from my favourite characters. Also, this was the part that dragged on too much for me, when the two were working on if the relationship can work or not, it was like watching too long tennis play, and it made me a little frustrated, this never – ending will they/won’t they, can they/can’t they, all the time comparing Sky to Alec’s ex – wife – there were too much repetitions, the scenes were being mulled over and over again, and as much as I like Sarah Morgan’s beautiful writing style, I just couldn’t stop rolling my eyes and hurrying to new information, new scene.
I also couldn’t help the feeling that Skylar’s hair were the separate character in the book, or at least that they were mentioned almost every second page – they were always in her way, they were flying in the wind, they were always fanning out on the pillow and they were the central point everywhere she put her head to.
But Sarah Morgan’s writing style is exceptional. It’s full of warmth and feeling, and her descriptions are so very vivid, bringing everything she writes about to life. It was a great, warm, light – hearted story, funny, flirty and romantic, a great read, and not only for Christmas. Even though it is a tad predictable, I didn’t reach for this book because of its unpredictability – no, I wanted to read it because I was sure it’s going to be a story that will cheer me up – and I was right. This book has also this what I adore in my novels – that under all this brilliant humour, there are also some more serious, darker issues hidden, and the author has balanced them in a great way. Add to this wonderful, snowy settings, the possibility of being snowed – in for Christmas, strong main characters and spectacular love scenes, and you’ve found your perfect read. Recommended!