If I Never Met you by Mhairi McFarlane

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane

 

Publisher: Harper Collins 41qbp1hsgrl._sx322_bo1204203200_

Publishing Date: 1st January 2020

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 431

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback (out on 05.03.2020)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

If faking love is this easy… how do you know when it’s real?

When her partner of over a decade suddenly ends things, Laurie is left reeling—not only because they work at the same law firm and she has to see him every day. Her once perfect life is in shambles and the thought of dating again in the age of Tinder is nothing short of horrifying. When news of her ex’s pregnant girlfriend hits the office grapevine, taking the humiliation lying down is not an option. Then a chance encounter in a broken-down elevator with the office playboy opens up a new possibility.

Jamie Carter doesn’t believe in love, but he needs a respectable, steady girlfriend to impress their bosses. Laurie wants a hot new man to give the rumor mill something else to talk about. It’s the perfect proposition: a fauxmance played out on social media, with strategically staged photographs and a specific end date in mind. With the plan hatched, Laurie and Jamie begin to flaunt their new couple status, to the astonishment—and jealousy—of their friends and colleagues. But there’s a fine line between pretending to be in love and actually falling for your charming, handsome fake boyfriend…

Rating: four-stars

 

Laurie Watkinson and Dan Price have been together since university, that is, for 18 years. They love each other, they’re comfortable, they have good jobs as lawyers at the same firm in Manchester and they enjoy their lives. And are even thinking about starting a family. That is, until it turns out, that Laurie is thinking. Dan is over – thinking: he doesn’t want the same things are Laurie wants. He wants out. He dumps her. And immediately starts a relationship with another woman who also immediately fells pregnant of course. To tell that Laurie is devastated would be an understatement.
One day she’s stuck in the lift at work with Jamie Carter, the firm lothario, and they decide to stage a “faux – mance”, as they both can benefit from it. Let’s the fun and games begin, right? Has Laurie supposed that there is much more depth to Jamie than she’s thought? Has she expected that this fake relationship will help her build self esteem and confidence? How it is actually going to end?

The absolute highlight of this story was how the romance aspect was developing, how it underlined the importance of friendship before anything can happen but also, and believe me, yes, we know the formula, we know those arranged and fake office romances are similar, predictable and likely to end in tears, this time the plot simply brilliantly worked in this book. Also, the characters are one of the strongest points here. They’re believable, likeable, and although there were some moments that made me roll my eyes thinking, yeah, for sure, this is going to never happen in real life, like the conversation between Jamie, Dan and Michael, I mean, who would allowed to be talked to like that, I was totally engrossed in their lives, and this is always a good sign. When you get to know Jamie, you quickly learn that he’s not this pretentious, irritating, arrogant Lothario that other think he is. Yes, he is ambitious and hard – working but he truly knows where the priorities are and there is this gorgeous, lovely vulnerable side to him. It was not to be hidden that he respected Laurie, acting like a gentleman, always putting her first, which was a great change after getting to know Dan.
Laurie, even though she’s also ambitious and hard – working, she’s also smart, funny and sharp. It’s so normal that her confidences sky – rocketed downhill after the break – up, and it made her feel even more realistic and genuine, because let’s be honest, who wouldn’t feel like that after ending a relationship that lasted nearly half of your lifetime, right? I loved to see her growing in confidence again, mending her heart, seeing another perspective. They were both so at ease in each other company, I adored their banter.

The beginning was brilliant but then it went a bit confusing for me, and it felt like this until Laurie and Jamie’s deal, as then the story really gained speed and started to fill with McFarlane’s hallmark sarcastic humour – just what I like best. I adored the fact that this time the author’s observations and descriptions of feelings and emotions were spot on. The author has a way with words, even the normal banter between the characters feels fresh, sharp and authentic. She has paced her story really well (well, except for the part right after the beginning until the deal – I know, I know, I’m repeating myself!) and made it unique and refreshing, without making the plot unnecessary complex and complicated. Her characters are realistic and have depth to them, much more that you could expect.

It was a funny (even though this time the humour didn’t resonate with me right from the beginning and on all levels), light and witty book, also filled with insightful thoughts. Although at the beginning I couldn’t connect with Laurie, I’m not sure why, it was somehow hard to keep track with her but it quickly changed and I started to love her, her being so smart, seeing under the surface, seeing things that other didn’t want to see. It was a lovely, heart-warming and entertaining read – if you get through the most confusing first part. It touches upon some tricky issues, such like dysfunctional families, love, hate, betrayal, hope and loss and the author deals with them all in a skilful, gentle way, not forgetting to balance the most heavier parts with humour. What I really liked is the fact that the book is not too sugary, you know, it’s not heart – ripping but also not only sweet, charming and beds of roses kind. Highly recommended!

Those People by Louise Candlish

Those People by Louise Candlish

 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster 42427483._sy475_

Publishing Date: 27th June 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you! / Purchased

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Hardcover | Paperback (out on 26.12.2019)

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Could you hate your neighbour enough to plot to kill him?
Until Darren Booth moves in at number 1, Lowland Way, the neighbourhood is a suburban paradise. But soon after his arrival, disputes over issues like loud music and parking rights escalate all too quickly to public rows and threats of violence.
Then, early one Saturday, a horrific crime shocks the street. As the police go house-to-house, the residents close ranks and everyone’s story is the same: Booth did it.
But there’s a problem. The police don’t agree with them.

Rating: three-stars

 

Lowland Way is a quiet, community – and family friendly street in South London. The neighbours are a tight – knit community and they were even awarded for a great concept “Play – Out Sunday” that allows children to play safely on the street when it’s closed to traffic on a Sunday. Until everything changes, when one day the Booths move into number 1, immediately starting with the bad neighbour things such as loud music at all hours, noisy renovations, running the illegal car dealing business from home, taking all the free parking spaces there are on the street, forcing the residents to look for a space somewhere further away. And generally, they’re unfriendly and not willing to cooperate.
The neighbours gather their strengths again the Booths but the complaints go unheeded and it seems nobody can do anything, their hands are tied. They can’t even sell the houses it they wanted because the prices radically went downhill. And then someone dies – but is it really so obvious what has happened? It turns out the list of suspects is as long as Lowland Way itself…

The characters were brilliantly drawn, however none of them were especially likeable but I guess it was intended. However, they feel like real people and I could really follow their frustrations, desperations and anger. But no matter my own feelings towards the characters, I really felt empathy for them, and I could easily imagine how the whole unfairness of the situation made them feel. What was interesting was the way the characters were portrayed – there were many of them, and it takes time to eventually get them all under control, knowing who is who and to whom they belong, and, as I have already mentioned, not likeable at all, and all of them seemed so happy with their lives on the surface, but it turned out that all of them, literally all, had murderous tendency – though, perhaps, it’s not a wonder in those circumstances. However, as much as I was a bit disgusted with them, I thoroughly enjoyed their stories. Because of the multiple points of view it takes time for the mystery to unfold, to actually begin, but the characters were honest and genuine, so we really know what they think. Louise Candlish has a great sense of observation and she really knows how to write about domestic dynamics and manipulation, and it was really sometimes shocking to see the real faces of the characters as the cracks started to appear after not everything runs as smoothly as they wish.

I liked how much interpretation there is left to us about “those people”, because I’ve found myself, more than once, wondering who’s really worse. I mean, I wouldn’t accept breaking down walls, playing loud music, parking wherever you want, not following the general rules but then, on the other hand, would I accept neighbours policing the neighbourhood, meddling everywhere, thinking they have the right to decide about what’s good and what’s wrong? Oh my, I am blessed with my neighbours, really… I also liked the pace of this book, it was fast and the changing points of view made it feel even quicker. It was great to read not only about their feelings about the new neighbours but the author also gave us a deep insight into their private lives, letting us see what’s really happening behind the closed doors.

Sadly, I enjoyed this book, but not as much as Ms Candlish’s previous novels. There were moments that made me feel wow, especially the accidental death, I couldn’t get by it, but there weren’t enough of those moments. When I finished reading, I though, and that’s all? The ending, in my opinion, felt a bit too rushed compared to the fact how long the main story was, and I don’t know, but it was not completely this what I was expecting.

“Those People” is for sure a gold standard example of domestic noir/suspense, a genre that Louise Candlish has already proven herself in. Her writing style is so vivid and descriptive, and really, I could easily imagine the horrors of the new neighbours, could hear the shrills, thrills, loud music through her words. Altogether, it was, sadly, not my personal favourite by this author. I think there was so much potential in it but the execution just missed the mark for me, this “something” that I always found in Louise Candlish’s books.

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

One Winter Morning by Isabelle Broom

 

Publisher: Penguin 43201773._sy475_

Publishing Date: 17th October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher, thank you!

Number of pages: 400

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

On a winter morning she lost a piece of her heart. Can she find it?

Evangeline isn’t feeling festive this December.

The frost and fairy lights only remind her it’s been a year since she lost the mother who took her in as a baby and raised her.

She’s never felt more alone – until she discovers her birth mother’s identity. And where to find her.

A lifetime and thousands of miles have separated Evangeline and Bonnie. Now, travelling to New Zealand could be Evangeline’s chance to confront the woman who gave her up.

But is she ready for what she’ll find there?

The answers she’s been looking for, a new family to heal her . . . Or someone she could never have expected?

Rating:  five-stars

 

Genie isn’t feeling festive this year. She doesn’t feel great at all in fact. It’s almost a year after her adoptive mum died in an accident Genie is blaming herself for. Encouraged by her adoptive dad to meet her birth mother Bonnie, hoping it will give her some answers and lessen the guilt and reconnect her with the world, Genie dares to start the journey around the world to New Zealand, where Bonnie lives. It could be a chance to confront the woman who gave her up but on the arrival Genie discovers that not only Bonnie embarked on a journey to England to probably find Genien but also meets Tui, a girl who’s going to change her whole world. Is she ready for what she’s going to discover?

I am so, so happy that this book has read like Isabelle’s debut novel, it was really close to perfection this time – there was this really hard to capture, and also to describe, feeling that you have in your heart and belly when reading, a feeling that makes the book a brilliant experience and I’m so glad to report to you that “One Winter Morning” is such a book. Isabelle Broom’s first novel was great and I loved it, then I had some problems with her next books and it made me feel desperately sad because I knew that she can write such great stories, and now she’s back with this newest release and I can’t stop praising it.

The author has so wonderfully and skilfully captured the whole range of emotions here – the book was oozing in them but it doesn’t mean that it felt too emotional, no, there was the right amount of them, to make it poignant without making it too sugary. There was love, loss, grief, friendship and hope, combined with challenges that we have to face every day. It was truly a magnificent read that easily transported me into the characters’ world.

The characters felt like living and breathing people, and of course I loved Genie immediately, what with her love of horses. Actually, I warmed to all of them quickly, right after getting to know them. But Genie was a great leading character, full of flaws as well but it made her even more realistic in my eyes, and her struggle to move forward was genuine. I adored being with her on this journey where she learns how to process her grief and learns how to trust in other people, that she’s not alone.
The chapters told from Genie’s point of view are intertwined with those told by Bonnie, which added a bit of mystery and kept me glued to the pages as I wanted to know what has really happened, and while it was not so hugely dramatic, just a normal story that could happen anytime and anywhere, Isabelle Broom managed to keep it intriguing enough, revealing something about Bonnie’s past and then switching the narration back to Genie, leaving me wanting more. Eventually, the two stories merge into one, and the ending made me feel really satisfied, I couldn’t wish for a better one.
Genie’s developing friendship with Kit and Tui were absolutely realistic and genuine, and those two were also adorable characters, I really liked what the author did with Tui’s character, loved her cheerfulness, openness and “jeez”.

Isabelle Broom is already known for the settings she chooses for her books, and this time she didn’t disappoint, taking us on a journey to New Zealand. Without making the book feel like a tourist guide, there were enough vivid, colourful descriptions of the places and beautiful scenery. It felt a bit different, to spent Christmas there where it’s actually summer, but it was a change.

“One Winter Morning” brilliantly touches upon the complicated and complex family relationships and dynamics even if the plot is simple and realistic – the thing the author has chosen to write about is probably happening right now, somewhere in the world. She managed to make it realistic, with a special touch of romance and humour. It was a lovely journey of new beginnings and finding yourself, heart – warming and charming that I highly recommend!

The Cornish Villahe School – Christmas Wishes by Kitty Wilson

The Cornish Village School – Christmas Wishes by Kitty Wilson

 

Publisher: Canelo 47167328

Publishing Date: 9th September 2019

Series: Cornish Village School #4

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 254

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle

 

 

Synopsis:

It’s the most wonderful time of the year in Penmenna…

Teaching assistant Alice has sworn off men, which is fine because with Christmas coming she’s super busy organising the school Nativity. This should be a blast with the help of best friend and village vicar, Dan – if she can just ignore those more-than-just-a-friend feelings she’s developed for him…

Dan is more than happy to help Alice – his secret crush – but not only is his beloved Granny Annie about to be made homeless, the church choir has disintegrated and he’s battling some dark demons from his past.

With meddling grannies and PTA wars thrown in the mix, can Alice and Dan overcome their past hurts to move forward? Will they be spending Christmas together as friends… or something more?

A festive feel-good romance perfect for fans of Tilly Tennant and Holly Martin.

Rating: four-stars

 

Alice is a teaching assistant in Penmenna village school and this year she’s given the job of organising the class four nativity play. Determined to make it the best one, or at least better than the one from last year with the earth giving birth, she loops her best friend Dan, who is a village vicar, to help her. Actually, Alice would love to be more than friends with Dan, however she’s so unsure of herself, she can’t see why any man would be interested in her, and there were some bad experienced for her in the past and Dan, well, Dan has some reasons as well to hide his feelings.

One of the biggest strength of the book are for sure the characters. The cast is simply brilliant, living and breathing, with flaws and troubles. Dan was a perfect vicar, so very un – vicar like, which only made him even better. His background was really heart – breaking and you could really understand all his commitment issues. But Marion Markshot must have been the best character ever, oh my god, so fierce and so vulnerable, I loved her and her ways, and I really wouldn’t like to have her as a fiend. And really, you can say whatever you want, that she was cruel, self – obsessed, whatever, but oh my, I so fell for her! Because no matter what, the characters felt human and true to life, finding themselves in a position of having to go on, to get on with things, just like we are. And Alice, the lovely, kind and full of energy Alice, so unsure of herself, not realising how great she is – she was a fantastic leading character.

What I also adored is that the series centres around school and teaching. And even though I’m now working in kindergarten and not at school, once a teacher, always a teacher and I like stories set at school, especially such lovely ones. I loved Alice around her pupils and I loved her approach to the organization of the Nativity Christmas Play, she’s truly the right person in the right place, her love to her job shines through the pages.

I adored this book, I really did, but what annoyed me a bit was the fact that you actually knew, from the very beginning, how it’s going to end (I know, I know, everybody hates this sentence) and it simply felt too long, no matter how entertaining, to come to the final conclusion. I mean, there were almost no obstacles, no challenges and the will they/will they/oh yes they will was too long. It just felt, I don’t know, too wordy, as if it has lost its track from time to time.

But altogether, it was a hilariously funny and also wise and heart – warming read with incredibly vivid and lively characters with intelligent and sharp sense of humour. I have only read the third instalment in the series before – sadly, it’s a huge mistake, really, because the books are so, so entertaining! “Christmas Wishes” is full of mishaps, family, friendship and love, beautifully balancing humour with poignant scenes. The banter, and there is a lot of banter in this book, is humorous, witty, sharp and quick and there is a huge amount of lovely romance, of letting go of the past and moving forward, and it is already filled with festive spirit. Hugely recommended!

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

Snowflakes at the Little Christmas Tree Farm by Jaimie Admans

 

Publisher: HQ Digital 44799648

Publishing Date: 9th October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 384

Genre: General Fiction, Romance

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

All she wants for Christmas…

Leah Griffiths has woken up after a few too many glasses of Prosecco with a hangover – and discovers she’s accidentally bought a little Christmas tree farm in Scotland!

At first she’s horrified, but perhaps it’s the perfect way to forget all about her cheating ex.

And when she meets grumpy (but ridiculously gorgeous) pumpkin farmer Noel underneath the mistletoe, Leah begins to believe that at Christmas time, anything can happen…

Rating:  four-stars

 

The morning after finding her boyfriend/boss in a compromising position, Leah Griffiths wakes up not only with a huge hangover after downing few bottles of Prosecco, but also as a new owner of a Christmas Tree Farm in Scotland that she’s just won on an internet auction. And paid for it. £50,000, all the money left after selling her parents’ house when they died.
But hey, the farm looks lovely on the pictures, right? As she has no job in London anymore, her parents are dead and she has only one best friend, there is nothing stopping her back, and really, how hard could running a Tree Farm be?
Well, it turns out it can be hard, especially as the farm has been empty for four years, most of the trees are dead/unsellable, and the grumpy neighbour Noel knows lots about trees but he doesn’t believe that Leah will stay at the farm after realising how much work it needs, and after seeing that the house has no windows and only half roof left. And it’s very cold and raining all the time.
But Noel doesn’t know Leah and her determination. But will the determination be enough to start over? Will Leah stay at the farm?

I really don’t remember when I laughed so much when reading a book. Right now I’m even not afraid to make a drunken impulse buy, honestly, even if it’s of abandoned Christmas Tree Farm in Scotland – I could keep horses there! It was a read full of laughs, giggles, embarrassing but also poignant moments, brilliantly capturing the cheer of a small town and its community.

Jaimie Admans writes in a way that made me immediately fell in love with all the characters and the setting. Leah was a brilliant leading heroine, full of humour and best one – liners, often jumping to conclusions but also optimistic and never giving up. Well, how many of us would stay after realizing they have bought an abandoned and run – down Christmas Tree Farm, right? Not Leah – she was stubborn and determined and had some of the best ideas how to revitalize the farm and to keep it going, not forgetting about the community! We get to know her at a very low point, and she’s also lost so much when her parents died, so she really knows what suffering and grief mean, and she has moments when she feels so desperate and lonely, but she’s also so funny and so human and I was really rooting for her, wanting her to have her own happy ending.
Our lovely Leah is surrounded and supported by a great group of characters, charming, friendly and immediately likeable, brilliantly written and amusing. Some of their antics at the market were peculiar but please, do let me focus tightly on Noel. And let me swoon about Noel. Noel should have his own book – even though he had a Chihuahua and not a rottweiler, he was perfect. Noel, the usual broody and moody neighbour, the pumpkin farmer from the adjacent land, sexy, handsome, irresistible… you get the picture. With a soft side to him as well, I loved how he was around another people, his mum and dog, always willing to help but not too overwhelmingly helpful, you know what I mean? A softie but still a real man, give me him any time pretty please. Oh, be still you stupid heart, really.
The interactions and banter between him and Leah were the most brilliant parts of the book, and they were mostly my favourite scenes, so actually almost the whole book. The way the author has pushed them together felt obvious, yes, but also natural and genuine and the chemistry between them was sparklingly funny and believable.

The author has for sure researched how much work running a Christmas tree farm involves and learnt her lesson about trimming a tree or whatever it is you have to do with them. I’ve never realised it, I mean, you go, you choose and then buy the most beautiful Christmas tree, right, but I’ve never given a thought to what is needed to grow this perfect specimen. She dedicates a lot of pages to the actual work involved in farming, and it’s rich in details and information but it doesn’t slow down the action, oh no, it rather propels it forward, is rich in details but never too dull.

It is a fast – paced, seamlessly written, chatty and engaging read that yes, you know how it’s going to end, and yes, you know there are going to be obstacles on the way, but still it is a great fun to read. Jaimie Admans’s writing style is easy – going and easy to get along with and chatty and her descriptions are vivid and colourful. This novel was a lovely, romantic, atmospheric and full of snow read, right for the Christmas season. The idea of the plot was great and refreshing and there was this lovely message in it, that when you want something badly to succeed, simply go for it, just go out there and get it – it may not be the easiest thing sometimes but everything is possible. Warm, cosy and comfortable, an engrossing and hilarious festive journey about second chances and fresh starts, but also about grief, betrayal and hope, and you very quickly will fall under its spell. Hugely recommended!

Gone by Leona Deakin / Blog Tour

Gone by Leona Deakin

 

Publisher: Black Swan 46801795._sy475_

Publishing Date: 12th December 2019

Series: Dr. Bloom #1

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 372

Genre: General Fiction, Mystery & Thrillers

 Buy the Book:  Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

Synopsis:

Four strangers are missing. Left at their last-known locations are birthday cards that read:

YOUR GIFT IS THE GAME.
DARE TO PLAY?

The police aren’t worried – it’s just a game. But the families are frantic. As psychologist and private detective Dr Augusta Bloom delves into the lives of the missing people, she finds something that binds them all.

And that something makes them very dangerous indeed.

As more disappearances are reported and new birthday cards uncovered, Dr Bloom races to unravel the mystery and find the missing people.

But what if, this time, they are the ones she should fear?

Rating: four-stars

 

People go missing – all on their birthdays after receiving intriguing birthday cards daring them to play. Psychologist Augusta Bloom and her colleague Marcus Jameson (ex Secret Service) get involve in the case, as at least one person missing is known to them – a family friend’s mother has vanished, following the pattern with the card. The more they investigate, the more complex the case becomes and as they start to dig really deep not only is the case starting to be dangerous to them personally, but they learn much more about the people missing and the results of their investigations are shocking. People that disappeared seem to have left out of their own will, leaving behind families and friends – who does it? Why?

One is sure – I have never (really, never) done a test on Facebook or somewhere else in the internet, how clever am I without knowing that I’m clever, no? I have no idea how it really works, and if it is like in this novel, that when you do such tests other people may benefit from it – but if it really is like this then I am truly in shock. I must be born in the wrong times then.

I wouldn’t say that the book is a slow – burner, however the beginning is somehow difficult and a little confusing, and I wasn’t sure what to feel. But no worries there, guys. Even if I wouldn’t determine the pace of this book as quick, there are many twists and turns and questions that you desperately want to know answers to, so there is really not a moment that feels flat. Yes, some things feel too far – fetched and yes, I rolled my eyes once or twice but nevertheless it is a tense and captivating novel. Despite the confusing start, I was quickly drawn into the story, it has really grown under my skin, with the interesting plot and thought – provoking relevant ideas about how we use social media.
There are also many characters and almost each time I had to consider who it is, to whom they belong and what’s their problem, and it was a bit confusing as well, as till the end, except for the few main characters, I had problems with them and each time the point of view changes, it took me a moment or two to recognize the person.

The main characters felt a bit too one – dimensional for my liking, however they were interesting enough, their background was also very entertaining. Augusta and Marcus worked together brilliantly and they complemented each other, the banter and dynamics between them was natural and genuine. What’s more, they might have been main characters, but also a huge part of focus was directed on the missing people and their stories, and it added tons of meaning to the story – I desperately wanted to know who those people are and why they went missing and what their problem is. I racked my brains at what it is that actually happened with the missing characters but I loved the way Augusta and Marcus were leading us to the end, to the final revelations. I had a feeling that we’re exactly at the same level with them, that we know the same things, we’re not a step behind or ahead of them and I think I guessed who, why and what at the same moment as Augusta. Looking back, there were enough hints and I probably should have guessed a bit earlier, but it only shows that a) my detective skills don’t exist and b) the author writes in a clever, misdirecting way, which is a huge bonus point.

The writing style is chatty and engaging, down to earth and easy to follow and the plot was so imaginative, different and fascinating, and it was really refreshing to read this book, even if it was full of psychology – however, I am personally fascinated with psychology, and secondly, the author is an expert in this area and explains the medical language in an approaching and comprehensible way. Hats off to the author for being able to explain the psychological jargon in such a fascinating way that never feels dry nor patronizing.
“Gone” was a scary, thought – provoking and thrilling rollercoaster ride full of intrigue and suspense and some of the best parts were the psychological insights of the game and the way the author has got into her characters’ heads. It also touched upon social media and reading this book will make you think twice the next time you’ll want to fill something on Facebook. Truly recommended!

 

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The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

The Christmas Party by Karen Swan

 

Publisher: Pan Macmillan 46025913._sy475_

Publishing Date: 31st October 2019

Source:  Received from the publisher via NetGalley, thank you!

Number of pages: 474

Genre: General Fiction, Women’s Fiction

 Buy the Book: Kindle | Paperback

 

 

 

 

Synopsis:

The Christmas Party is a delicious, page-turning story of romance, family and secrets, by the Sunday Times bestselling author Karen Swan.

When Declan Lorne, the last remaining knight in Ireland, dies suddenly, an ancient title passes with him. But his estate on Ireland’s rugged south-west coast is left to his three daughters. The two eldest, Ottie and Pip, inherit in line with expectations, but to everyone’s surprise – and dismay – it is the errant baby of the family, Willow, who gets the castle.

Why her? Something unknown – something terrible – made her turn her back on her family three years earlier, escaping to Dublin and vowing never to return. So when Willow quickly announces she is selling up, her revenge seems sweet and the once-close sisters are pushed to breaking point: in desperation, Pip risks everything to secure her own future, and Ottie makes a decision that will ruin lives. It’s each woman for herself.

Before moving in, Connor Shaye, the prospective new owner, negotiates throwing a lavish party at the castle just days before Christmas – his hello, their goodbye. But as their secrets begin to catch up with them, Ottie, Willow and Pip are forced to ask themselves which is harder: stepping into the future, or letting go of the past?

Rating:  four-stars

 

On the 26th November at Lorne Castle Serena and Declan Lorne – Declan the last knight of Ireland – celebrate their 30th anniversary with a great party. Quickly after, tragedy strikes – Declan dies. Willow, the youngest sister, is summoned to come home from Dublin where she now lives, estranged from the family, however she’s not able to arrive on time, before her father’s death. Then another shock follows – Declan’s will. The three sisters: Willow, Pip and Ottie, and their mother, must now face up to new challenges, trying to come to terms with the new situation, their past and hidden secrets that are going to rise to the surface during the Christmas Party – a send off to their castle.

As usual, the characters were perfectly drawn and the three sisters were brilliantly different. all of them strong in their own way but with flaws and weaknesses and making mistakes as well. I think Pip was closest to my heart, simply because she’s crazy about horses and would do anything for her animals, but what I also loved in her was that she was feisty and stubborn, sometimes too much. Ottie seemed to be the calmer out of the three sisters but it turned out that probably she was the one with the biggest secret that could have devastating consequences. I enjoyed her journey throughout the story, loved seeing her changing and eventually see the light, realising herself and for herself that she’s worth much more, because I hated to see her like a shadow of herself, living in lie and in wait. But I also had a feeling, the more I got to know her, that she really knew that what she was doing was wrong and this is what made her so withdrawn. The youngest Willow also struggles with a secret, and even though I was suspecting something, the truth hit me unexpectedly around the head. She was fierce and fiery and we know that something wrong happened and pushed her to leave her home three years ago, to cut family ties. The guilt of coming too late to tell the last goodbye to her father was present throughout the whole story and she needed the closure so much. All three, back home after their father’s death, were forced to work out their differences and learn how to trust each other again, which brings us to three very different storylines, told in distinctive and strong voices.

Again, the setting was incredibly beautiful. I loved the Irish castle, the descriptions of its surroundings, the wild nature in winter so atmospherically captured and vividly brought to us by the author. It’s a perfect backdrop to this story, a character on its own. I liked how the author highlighted the problems and troubles of having such a financial burden in the family, the guilt of not being able to keep the castle as intact and perfect as it deserved. The writing style is beautiful, evocative and well turned. The banter was quick, sharp and entertaining, and written in a way that I could hear the Irish lilt in characters’ voices. The dialogues were rich and eloquent and flew smoothly, making the interactions dynamic and the reading even more captivating.

So what can say, other than I simply totally enjoyed this story? Yes, it was a slow – burner and the things cumulated throughout the whole story to resolve quickly – almost exploding – at the end. It is then that all the various and different threads neatly weave themselves together and everything becomes clear. But it was well worth waiting for this end, it left me surprised and also shocked, to be honest, but this is what I was expecting from this book and from this author, so all’s well that ends well.

There is actually a lot going on in this book and there is everything to keep you glued to the pages: betrayal and hope, love and hate, fun and sadness, grief, uncertainty and tension. It was a captivating and engrossing story about family, with a mystery at the heart of the plot, romance, heartbreak, tension and living and breathing characters that feel vulnerable, strong and very genuine. The Christmas theme was lacking for me, and the highly anticipated Christmas Party took place at the end, and even though it was explosive it felt too undermined. Nevertheless, the book was full of warmth and sentiments, felt a little bit nostalgic as well, and for me it was a brilliant and engaging read. Another winner from Karen Swan that I highly recommend!