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Ratings and Book Reviews (2 5 star ratings
2 reviews

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4.2 out of 5
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    Charming and engaging with a few surprises!

    Karen Swan books are romances for people who think they don’t like romance. I say this because I am one of those readers who shunned the romance genre but Swan’s books have won me over to the light side. I am just about the crotchetiest reader you can imagine; I don’t like romance, I don’t like Christmas, I don’t like anything sappy and sweet but I have enjoyed several of her books in the past so I was excited to get my hands on this one. It is true that her books feature burgeoning romantic relationships and always have happy endings but they are also about so much more. For the first few I was surprised by just how engaging and interesting the plots were and how they kept me absorbed to the end. Now I expect to be engaged and entertained. “The Christmas Party” did not disappoint and managed to charm my cranky pants off! In this book there isn’t just one strong, feisty female protagonist but three sisters who each have their own love interest, which means triple the relationship drama. These romances begin as mutual hate or at least a strong dislike and gradually morph into love. There is a lot of conflict and angst but I don’t think I’m spoiling anything to say that everything works out in the end, no matter how unlikely. There are happy endings all around and everything is neatly wrapped up with a bow like an early Christmas present. Swan’s books are feel -good stories and this one fits the bill very nicely. Initially I didn’t really like two of the sisters. They seemed frivolous and spoiled and made very poor decisions. I guess they did grow up in a castle so spoiled and entitled comes with the territory. I didn’t mind Willow although I did wonder what her secret was. I assumed it was something terrible that was done to her and that she wasn’t at fault. The answer was a bit of a surprise as I didn’t expect what she was hiding. I thought it was something completely different and I was actually glad it wasn’t what I had assumed. Through all the misunderstandings and disagreements it was a given that the relationships would work out in the end. This was a touch predictable and the path to a happy ending for two of the sisters followed what I suspected was going to happen for them but I was never bored watching it all unfold. Willow’s path was a bit more complicated and shocking and I enjoyed her journey very much. What a surprise her story turned out to be! The ending is a bit of a tearjerker as the family has a touching moment after being surprised with thoughtful gifts from an unexpected source. If you don’t tear up at that final letter then your heart must be made of stone! This story is all about the unconditional love of family and it will leave you appreciating what you have and holding your loved ones a little closer. Thank you Pan Macmillan for providing an Electronic Advance Reader Copy via NetGalley for review.
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    I loved this book set in Ireland around Christmas

    This is my first Karen Swan book, and I loved it! The story is set around a castle in Ireland at Christmas and has plenty of family drama going on, a death, a near-death, affairs and family secrets, a real page-turner. The story is all about the Lorne family - there's Serena (Mother), Declan (very recently deceased Father) and the three daughters - Ottie (runs the campsite on the family land / having an affair with a married man), Pip (runs the stables / trekking tours, loves her horses) and Willow (baby of the family, left home to move to Dublin 3 years ago because of.... something, a big secret). When the will is read everyone is shocked, as although everyone was left part of the estate and land/business they dealt with, the majority went to Willow, along with the castle, and not to their Mother. Although that may seem like a great thing to be left, in actual fact they are barely scraping by, the castle needs lots of work doing to it, and there is no way they can survive by keeping it so need to sell. So Willow was left with the hardest task of all of them. The main story was set around the sisters and their lives, and they were all so different. Ottie, the oldest, having an affair with a married man, had her head in the sand about their relationship. He was obviously only interested in the excitement of it all, and I was surprised she didn't catch on earlier as she seemed to have a good head on her shoulders. Pip, the middle sister, was definitely the more fiery, impulsive one of the trio, which got her into a few scrapes (and hospital at a few points). Willow was the one I liked the most, she obviously had family 'issues' (that we eventually found out about), but even though she was the youngest she was the one trying to sort everything out. There was lots going on to keep the story really interesting, along with a big party at the castle just before Christmas with the (possible) new owners, arranged with two weeks to spare, and major renovations and decoration in those two weeks to enable the party to happen. There were some great side characters - Tom Gilmore (injured runner), Connor Shaye (possible purchaser of the castle), and Taigh (previous crush of Pip's from school who she always treated really badly when she saw him). Although the story is set around the Christmas period, and has a gorgeous festive cover, it really could be read any time of the year and wasn't what I'd call a Christmas book, probably a 3 out of 5 for the 'Christmas feeling'. It's more centred on the family dramas and relationships. Really good book that I thoroughly enjoyed reading.

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