Monday, 13 October 2014

A Christmas to Remember - Jenny Hale

About the book...
Everyone loves Christmas... don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree! The only problem could be her boss... single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever... after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin! 

About the author...
When she graduated college, one of Jenny's friends said "Look out for this one; she's going to be an author one day". Despite being an avid reader and a natural storyteller, it wasn't until that very moment that the idea of writing novels occurred to her.

Sometimes our friends can see the things that we can't. Whilst she didn't start straight away, that comment sowed a seed and several years, two children and hundreds of thousands of words later, Jenny finished her first novel.

Coming Home for Christmas went on to be a Kindle hit on both sides of the Atlantic - reaching the top 20 in the UK.  Visit her at: 

My thoughts...
I was given an ecopy of this book by Kim at Bookouture in exchange for an honest review which I'm more than happy to give.  Kim really knows what books I like and I always trust her choices.  Who could say no to a Christmas book, it has to be the best time of year for me.

The main character Carrie is a hugely successful nanny who has reached the point in her career where she has decided she needs to take control of her own life and plan for a family of her own and a fresh career.  This was to be her last nannying post intending to get a grip with a fresh start in the new year.

Christmas brings its own memories to each of us but for most I'd say warmth, smells, home, family and friends would evoke quite a strong image.  Carrie is introduced to The Fletcher household and finds none of the above, despite the fact that it's only a couple of weeks to christmas.  Adam, the father is a work-a-holic with only very part time care for his children since his divorce from their mother, hence the need for a nanny and has made no plans at all for Christmas.

I took an instant liking to Carrie who despite her experience and confidence knowing how to interact with children wasn't so confident asserting herself with other adults. She has serious confidence and anxiety issues - relying on self help books to get her through each day, yet when the need arose she managed to go in guns blazing, then worried about the consequences afterwards.

Carrie used to helping children with different problems and situations seems to confidently know how to get Adam's children Olivia and David on side.  Their father was a different matter. She was troubled from the outset by the lack of interaction between the children and Adam.  Carrie has confidence issues when moved out of her comfort zone, yet despite this goes back time and time again to confront Adam to try and get him to understand what he's missing by not spending time with his children.

Support unexpectedly comes in the form of Adams family who come to stay for the holidays, quickly enveloping Carrie into their fold but unbeknown to her bring their own set of issues and opinions too.  Each and every character was someone I wanted to know more about - from Joyce, Adam's mother who draws her family around her with home cooking, to Walter, Adam's grandfather, who sees everything and dispenses wise words when needed.

This is a truly magical book and was so beautifully written, bringing together trust, confidence, love and family to iron out the creases.  Many situations were made worse by the various characters being backed into a corner but time and honest talk - not always welcomed though, resulted in eyes being opened and obstacles eventually flattened.

There is some romance thrown in for good measure but not when you expect it.  Like most readers I like to second guess what is going to happen but Jenny threw a few curve balls to throw me off course.  This is a book of discovery and growth for more than a couple of the characters and I thoroughly enjoyed taking their journey with them.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a happy ending but in a book that isn't all predictable. I so wish Adam's mother Joyce would have added a few of her recipes to the end of the book - I was left planning for Christmas and wishing we had a little more snow in England.

Thank you Jenny for such a beautiful read which had me hooked from the very first page.

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