Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Book review: Calling Mrs Christmas by Carole Matthews


My edition: Hardcover, published on 1 August 2013 by Sphere, 452 pages.

Description: Cassie Smith has been out of work for a while but she has an idea. Drawing on her love of Christmas, she begins charging for small things: wrapping presents; writing cards; tree-decorating. She's soon in huge demand and Cassie's business, Calling Mrs Christmas, is born.

Carter Randall wants to make Christmas special for his children, so he enlists Cassie's help, and his lavish requests start taking up all her time. Thank goodness she can rely on her loving partner Jim to handle the rest of her clients.

When millionaire Carter asks Cassie to join his family on a trip to Lapland, she knows she shouldn't go . . . Suddenly Cassie finds herself facing a heart-breaking choice that could change her entire life.

Rating:



The Queen of Christmas is back with another magical and moving holiday read...

Cassie was made redundant eight months ago and she is struggling to find another job to make ends meet. She loves her partner Jim but as a prison officer he doesn't make a lot of money and stuck in their tiny flat without the money for a wedding or to even start thinking about children she's rapidly falling into a state of depression. Until one day she has the brilliant idea to combine her passion for Christmas with her exceptional organisational skills and set up a service, which for a fee helps other people with anything related to the festive season. Calling Mrs Christmas is born!

Writing Christmas cards, shopping for gifts and even planning an entire holiday, nothing is too much for Cassie. Her life is soon taken over by her new job, not in the least because of handsome and uber-rich client Carter who invites her to join him on a magical holiday to Lapland. His reasoning being that she deserves a break having organised it all, and his children need a nanny - but does he have an ulterior motive?

Simultaneously to the Cassie storyline runs that of her partner Jim and his job at the Young Offenders' Unit, which is absolutely heartbreaking to read about. Every day he's confronted with the struggles from the young lads in his care who are often from rough backgrounds and have a bleak future ahead of them that inevitably leads to a life in prison. His job is hard and thankless but despite that he's there to support Cassie with her new venture and is genuinely happy for her, even though she is suddenly so busy that there seems little time left in her day for him.

At home Jim helps Cassie with all the Christmas tasks that take up every waking hour and at work he tries to keep an eye on Rozzer and Smudge, two young lads he sees a lot of potential in but who are also very vulnerable and impressionable and because of that he worries about what will happen to them once they leave the Unit. He tries to help them as best as he can, but fears that it isn't enough and one of them will do something that will see him end up right back in the Unit, or worse.

One of my favourite books published in 2012, and hands-down my favourite seasonal read, was With Love at Christmas by Carole Matthews; a genuinely laugh-out-loud funny novel which conveyed the true spirit of Christmas with a heartwarming story [full review here]. So you can imagine that I was beyond excited when a few months ago I found out that the lovely Ms Matthews would be releasing another holiday book. With my expectations set very high I could've easily been disappointed but thankfully that wasn't the case. Upon opening Calling Mrs Christmas I was soon drawn into the festive, magical, heartbreaking but also heartwarming story of Cassie and Jim.

Cassie's love for the holiday is incredibly contagious and reading about her enjoying the lead up to the festivities really made me want to dig out the Christmas playlist on my iPod too! This was increased by the absolutely magical descriptions of the perfect getaway to Lapland, which she organised for Carter and his children. I've always wanted to see the Northern Lights and reading about the lavish luxuries, such as a personal chef and a stay at an ice hotel, at the disposal of Carter because of his wealth makes me really want to seek a rich man to take me on the same brilliant trip! Or at least make an effort to definitely, one day, visit this gorgeous place myself - wealthy husband in tow or not.

But the novel is not just a festive delight, it also touches upon some serious issues and reading about the hardships Rozzer and Smudge have had to endure in their young lives often left me feeling a lump in my throat. Their struggles are heartbreaking are reminded me of the fact that we should always, and especially in the lead up to Christmas, try to look out for those more vulnerable than ourselves. It doesn't take much effort to show kindness and trust but it can make a world of difference to someone else and give them the boost of confidence they need to not give up.

Calling Mrs Christmas is filled with a lot of heart and a lot of scrumptious mince pies. The characters are by no means perfect but it's their flaws that make them genuine and interesting to read about. Their choices along the way are unpredictable, making it an exciting journey for characters and readers alike. And I promise you that the story's satisfying conclusion will leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling long after turning the final page.

To get in the festive mood (or to do some really early Christmas shopping!) purchase your hardcover or eBook copy now from Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, Waterstones or your own preferred retailer. The paperback will be released on October 1.


By the way, I loved the below letter by author Carole Matthews which was included with the review copy:



Many thanks to the publisher for providing me with a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review



Would you like to know more about author Carole Matthews? You can connect with her online at:

Website: www.carolematthews.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/CaroleMatthewsBooks

Twitter: @carolematthews

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