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    Warmed this Grinch's heart!

    Karen Swan is one of my auto-buy authors. If her name is on, it I’ll read it. This has never steered me wrong, except with her last book which just wasn’t for me. Thankfully, The Christmas Lights is the Karen Swan I know and love! The Norwegian setting was a huge draw for me, especially as that is where the historical portions of the story are set. I am fascinated by the history of the region and what it was like for my ancestors. My great-grandfather was Norwegian and I kind of feel a connection to the lifestyle and the landscape. I live in the Canadian Rockies so it’s not too far off! I had a good feeling that I was really going to enjoy this book and it ended up being my favourite of her books yet! At the risk of sounding like a miserable Grinch, I don’t love Christmas, I don’t love romance and at first glance those two things seem to be the core of this book. I find there’s a lot more depth than just these superficial elements. This story, like all her other books, is actually is more about a woman finding her strength and learning to follow the path that leads to the life she wants, even if she doesn’t know it at first. Strong female characters are stock in trade for Swan’s books and while Bo starts out not entirely likable and a bit silly and weak-willed, she finds her voice and comes out the other side. Of course this is a romance so she doesn’t come out alone! I won’t give away any spoilers but I feel like she chose the right man and the right lifestyle. Signy is the other main character and she features in both the historical sections and the present. She seems to be a totally different type of person from Bo but as the story progresses they find a lot in common. The historical storyline was absolutely beautiful and horrifically brutal at the same time. Seeing Signy as a young girl and the trials she faced fleshed out her character and helped me understand her as an old woman. If possible I loved her even more after learning her story! Weaving in the story of her grandson and his rocky journey towards happiness was very touching and eventually fulfilling. Overall, the ending is a real tear-jerker but a triumphant one. Just like a good romance should be, it’s ultimately a happy ending. Dang, does this mean I like romance now? My cold, dead heart must have grown two sizes today. Thank Karen Swan for taking the humbug and the grouchiness out of this Grinch. If she can warm my heart she can charm anyone! Thank you to Pan Macmillan for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.

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