Thursday 12 October 2023


Book review: That Festive Feeling by Heidi Swain [blog tour]

I'm a latecomer to the Heidi Swain fan club, but after reading both the fantastic The Book-Lovers' Retreat and the delightful Coming Home to Cuckoo Cottage this year, I was really excited for her new festive novel. I cannot resist a Christmas romance at the best of times and especially not from one of my newest favourite authors! 

Holly is in a funk in her life. She's still struggling coming to terms with being single after her divorce, she's doesn't have a place to call her home, and she's hit a creative block with her work as an illustrator. So when she gets the opportunity to house-sit for friends at Christmas time, she doesn't have to think twice before taking them up on their offer. Holly is ready for some quiet time to clear her mind and figure out what's next in life. 

However, on one of her first days house-sitting she meets the colourful character of May; a glamorous older lady who quickly takes Holly under her wings. And this is only the start of meeting new people and getting distracted from her mission to make big life decisions. Instead of taking a break from everything to figure out her priorities, Holly gets pulled into the hectic but loveable community of Nightingale Square; helping out at the local allotment and even the upcoming Christmas show. 

And on top of that she meets Bear, a man she instantly has a connection with but she soon realises should be off limits. That's easier said than done, though, and that romantic feeling creeps up alongside a festive one...

For many people, this book will mark a much-anticipated return to Nightingale Square and its residents. However, as I am so new to Heidi's books, this was the first time I visited this lovely fictional world – and so for once I could experience what it's like to dive into an established setting without prior knowledge (usually I've read the full back catalogue already). And it worked beautifully. 

Even as a first-time visitor to Nightingale Square, I did not feel I missed crucial background information to understand the characters or where they were coming from. It was all explained naturally as part of the wider story arc so I could dive straight in and enjoy the glimpse into the lives of the latest residents without constantly second-guessing what was happening around them. And, in fact, I was so enamoured by various of the other residents that I now want to see if they have their own books so I can get to know them even better. 

That said, That Festive Feeling is very much the story of Holly and, to a lesser extent, May and Bear. I imagine these are all brand-new characters in Heidi Swain's bookish world. They got the most words dedicated to them and the biggest character developments. 

As soon as we meet Holly, I really liked her. I am also feeling in a bit of a funk in life and in creative slump at work, and so I could really relate to her struggles and feelings of aimlessness in life. It's nice to not feel alone in that aspect (even if the other person is fictional) as it normalises these feelings and experiences.

What I most loved about this novel, however, was the absolute star that is May. She brought such a fresh air onto the page and her attitude in life is wonderful. We should all be more May! Holly slowly started to embrace May's inspirational attitude and it really brought a lot of joy onto the pages as in the beginning it was more dispiriting than festive. Not to mention that May's dog Monty was an equally colourful character; an absolute style icon in his dashing little outfits and I wish I could see him in real life! No wonder they sparked Holly's imagination.

That Festive Feeling by Heidi Swain is a very cosy addition to her Nightingale Square series. It's a real comfort read that explores challenges that many people in their 30s and 40s will experience and normalises them. At the same time, there is of course plenty of will-they-won't-they romance to enjoy to give this book a swoon-worthy boost, which I always appreciate (especially in a festive read). 

And given that it's all set in the lead up to Christmas, it also hits all the seasonal marks, from a wholesome tree lighting ceremony to a hilarious pet Christmas photoshoot. This novel will certainly give you that festive feeling – even as early as October! 

That Festive Feeling by Heidi Swain is published today by Simon & Schuster and you can now buy your copy from your favourite local book shop!

Blog tour stops for That Festive Feeling by Heidi Swain

This review for That Festive Feeling is a part of the official blog tour for the launch of the book. Make sure to check out the other stops too!

Disclaimer: This book was gifted to me, but this has not impacted this honest review.

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