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Ratings and Book Reviews (4 14 star ratings
4 reviews
)

Overall rating

4.4 out of 5
14
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    Poor

    This should have been a short story. It was boring with no real depth to the characters. Not very magical
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    Day Old Prosecco rather than Vintage Champagne

    Heidi Swain takes us back, once more to Wynthorpe Hall and the quirky set of characters that live there. We have already met our female protagonist, Hayley, before - she is the housekeeper and features in Anna's story from a previous book. Unfortunately this is not the feisty Hayley we came to know then, this is a softer character who feels diametrically opposed to her origin story. Yes, people change but this character has had such a personality volte face that it doesn't feel like the same person at all - somewhat irrationally (these are fictional people after all) I felt rather cheated by this - almost as though I was being told that being irascible, sarcastic and defensive of your personal space and privacy were all negative character traits... The book follows all the usual tropes for the genre - not a bad thing as I read such a lot of it that I must like the schmaltz of it all. Unfortunately, somehow it just doesn't gel as well as it does in previous Heidi Swain books. In fact her latest two offerings have been somewhat disappointing to this reader. I can't really put my finger on where the disappointment stems from but I suspect it has to do with the sheer niceness of everyone, even people's bad points are not that bad in Swainland and it is starting to grate a little. Christmas at the hall and the associated village does sound magical though and I think even I would drag my sorry self out for a bit of their brand of Christmas Cheer. I don't think I could inhabit this particular fictional world though, it is all rather claustrophobic and there is something of the Commune about the hall in a vaguely sinister way. I know, talk about reading a lot in to a fluffy Christmas story. It is a charming festive read that you know how it will all turn out after the first 20 or so pages but that isn't necessarily a bad thing at this time of year. Might not have been entirely my cup of tea but the writing is engaging and draws you on through the story, even if the characters feel somehow flatter than they should be.
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    A lovely festive read!

    Another wonderful visit to the beautiful Wynthorpe Hall and all its residents. I love this series, it just seems to be get better with each book - I think this is my favourite so far. This book is about Hayley, the housekeeper at Wynthorpe. She arrived looking for refuge when she was young and pregnant, ended up working there and has been there ever since, the same as most of the other members of staff (although they just call themselves a family) at the Hall did, all needing help in one form or another. Hayley is quite a flippant, fairly hard character, because of events when she was younger, but has a softer side that she tries very hard to hide. At the start of the book she is engaged to Gavin, but not by the end! Gabe is a new addition to the Hall, a friend of Jamie's (son of the owners of the Hall) and starts working as a woodsman on the estate, and helps out with teh Winter Wonderful, but he also has issues to resolve which aren't apparant at first. Again we have another Christmas event, a Winter Wonderland, being organised, along with various other festive events, and it just really gets you in the Christmas mood. The family all gets together and eveyrone helps each other out, with Hayley's artistic talent coming to the fore, even though she tries to hide it. A lovely festive read. I really enjoy Heidi Swain books, her characters are just so engaging. Very enjoyable.
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    Fabulous Festive Fare!

    Lovely and Christmassy with a realistic storyline! Hayley finally leaves home and moves into Wynthorpe Hall, where she is housekeeper. Swearing off men after her broken engagement, the last thing she needs is her friends deciding that the other new resident could be a match for her. All Hayley wants is to get on with her job and enjoy friendship with her co-workers. This is a lovely, warm read - perfect to curl up with on a chilly afternoon. Lots of feel-good factor without being overly slushy, plenty of twists to keep your attention and, although part of a series, it is a smashing stand-alone read. The setting is wonderful, the characters varied and interesting and the writing created a lively and interesting read. An ideal festive read and one I'm more than happy to give my seal of approval. My thanks to Simon & Schuster for my copy via NetGalley. This is my honest, original and unbiased review.
14

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