The Holiday Swap by Zara Stoneley
Publisher: Harper Impulse
Publishing Date: 2nd September 2016
Source: Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!
Number of pages: 392
Genre: Women’s Fiction, Romance
Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to a Christmas holiday fraught with potential pitfalls.
The Holiday Swap.
Florence Cortes has the perfect life – an apartment in the trendiest district of Barcelona, a job she loves and a boyfriend who’s whisking her away on a romantic break to Paris to no doubt propose.
Only, he’s planning something far different, and Flo soon realises her life isn’t so perfect after all.
Home loving Daisy Fischer is perfectly happy in her idyllic home in the Cheshire countryside, with an on-off boyfriend who might be slightly dull but is totally dependable. Until he issues an ultimatum, and Daisy suddenly realises that there might be a whole different world out there that she’s missing out on.
Have Flo and Daisy come up with the perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak?
Can a snowbound Christmas in Cheshire – with aristocratic, handsome Hugo as her neighbour, a house full of animals and a leaking roof – help Flo mend her broken heart, and remind her of what she really wants in life?
Can a sunny break in beautiful Barcelona – with the dishy but brooding Javier, a never ending supply of cava, and a sea view to die for – prove to Daisy that playing safe isn’t always the answer?
Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas – and in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it, but where will they be for New Year?
Where there is a swap, there I am… I LOVE books about swapping. I love films about swapping. Heck, I don’t usually watch films, there are only a few of them that I can watch again and again, I love “Bridget Jones” and “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, and I also love “The Holiday”, and so Zara Stoneley couldn’t come up with a better idea for her newest release “The Holiday Swap” (what else?). Moreover, I love Zara Stoneley and I love holidays and I was really super – duper excited when the book has landed on my kindle. And this book only confirmed me in my opinion of having Zara Stoneley on my auto – buy authors – she always delivers, never disappoints!
Moreover, guys, this book is a return to Tippermere, probably one of my favourite fictional places in the world, and it also briefly, very briefly, but oh my gawd, how I enjoyed it, let us to reconnect with Lottie and Rory, and it also mentions some other characters from the Tippermere series, which was a great, surprising bonus for me. “The Holiday Swap” is also full of brilliant horses and dogs and I think Irish Wolfhound is my favourite dog breed right now, or at least Mabel is my favourite dog right now – I am so, so impressed with the way Ms Stoneley is able to capture the animals’ souls and put into words all the shenanigans they are capable of putting on.
Next to Tippermere, Zara Stoneley takes us to Spain this time, and exactly speaking, to Barcelona. I adored this setting but here is also my biggest problem with the book. I much more enjoyed the parts set in England, probably because the chapters happening in Barcelona felt much more like a travel guide. There was too much focus on the city itself, on the places to be and to see, and as much as I adored those places, I missed more about Daisy and Javier. I loved both of the venues, sure I did, and if I were to choose where I’d rather go for my holiday swap I wouldn’t know it, to be honest, as both of them sounded just perfect for a short stay. Or even as a for ever place. Though I am a country girl at heart, feeling best surrounded by green fields, herd of horses and six dogs by my side. But I’ll never say no to a holiday in Barcelona.
Shortly, in “The Holiday Swap”, our main characters, Flo and Daisy, decide to swap their places for a couple of weeks before Christmas. Flo is going to Tippermere and Daisy is going to Barcelona and I think I don’t have to say that for both girls the difference in the places will be huge – when Flo is living a sophisticated life in Barcelona, full of trendy bars, handsome guys and magazine features, Daisy gets up at six to break ice on water buckets, take care of the animals and to daily struggles with her neighbour, Hugo. The girls, from different reasons, aren’t looking for love, they’re looking for something new and relaxed, but what if love is at the next corner?
Zara Stoneley can certainly write very unique relationships! I adored both of the couples and they banter and the way they were adjusting to each other. Flo and Hugo were, I think, much more colourful, and they banter has added so, so much pepper to the story! I couldn’t wait for the chapters told by Flo, as they usually casted Hugo, and guys, believe me, each scene with Hugo was exceptional. Yes, at the beginning, when I saw his interactions with Daisy I was thinking, WTF, who are you, you arrogant and pompous git, but it was just at the beginning and quickly, VERY QUICKLY, I’ve changed my mind about Hugo. Yes, he was arrogant but it was a part of his persona and you could either love it or hate it, and I personally loved it, because he was arrogant in this intelligent, humorous way. The verbal sparring between Flo and Hugo was a masterpiece and I loved those one – liners and the way they got each other and each other’s sense of humour.
There was a lot happening in this story, usually including animals or fire. The girls had a lot of adventures and especially Daisy was discovering so many new things, trying new food and seeing great things. So I’ll be honest with you, this book was fantastic, full of humour and sex – Gods, and beautiful setting but perhaps I’m already spoiled by the Tippermere series, and I missed more action, more chaos, more troubles. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not criticizing, and it’s probably my fault, but those are my feelings and I can’t stop them, right? But altogether, I enjoyed this story totally, it was all that I needed, and it was a perfect mix of sun and snow, cheerfulness, perfect romances and hotter than hot heroes and fantastic, relatable heroines – keep them coming, Zara, pretty, pretty please!
“The Holiday Swap” was a lovely story about friendship and supporting each other, about seizing opportunities and taking chances to try something new, written in this brilliant, gorgeous, easy to follow Zara Stoneley’s style, full of twists and turns and surprises thrown at the characters that were not expecting it. The author brought not only the setting, but also the characters, to life and this book is the best antidote for a rainy afternoon – it makes you feel so cosy and so optimistic. Highly recommended!