So Anne, why have you been reading a Christmas book, published last year and already a bestseller, during the hottest August in living memory? There is a story to tell. It’s a few years now since I met Jules Wake at Romance at the Court – I liked her immediately, we spent a while putting the world to rights, and I decided I really must read her books. And then – although they all found their way onto my kindle – I just didn’t get round to it somehow. But her name kept coming up when people were saying “Oh, you must read… you’d love her books!”, and I decided it really was more than time that I tried one. But which one? So I asked Jules which one she’d recommend, and she suggested Covent Garden in the Snow, published by Harper Impulse in late 2017, available as an e-book (currently just 99p for kindle) and in paperback. So I ignored the blazing sunshine, dug it out from the depths of my kindle… and absolutely loved it.
Tilly Hunter has fabulous friends, her dream job as a make-up artist with a prestigious opera company and Felix, her kind and caring husband to be. It looks set to be the most perfect Christmas yet!
But when a monumental blunder forces her to work closely with new IT director Marcus Walker, it’s not only the roast chestnut stalls on the cobbles of her beloved Covent Garden that cause sparks to fly…
Super serious and brooding, Marcus hasn’t got a creative bone in his sharp-suited body. For technophobe Tilly, it’s a match made in hell.
And yet, when Tilly discovers her fiancé isn’t at all what he seems, it’s Marcus who’s there for her with a hot chocolate and a surprisingly strong shoulder to cry on… He might just be the best Christmas present she’s ever had.
This was one of those rare and wonderful reads that made the outside world totally disappear – the moment I found myself in the midst of the hidden world backstage at the Opera House, I was totally hooked. The tensions between the different departments, the making of wigs and costumes, the transformation with the use of makeup, the frantic “pitstops” needed during a production – I was there, and loving every moment.
Tilly is the most wonderful character – very few filters, a little flaky, warm and funny, struggling with her inexplicable attraction to “his Royal ITness” Marcus with his spreadsheets, obsession with IT security and crisp white shirts. As well as being a beautifully handled story of an unlikely romance, I particularly liked the focus on family in this book – the high-powered barrister sister, the very touching relationship with her Yorkshire parents, and the mistakes of the past. It’s a great story of treachery and skulduggery too, a real page turner as lives fall apart and people you’ve started to take to your heart show their true colours. Every character, however incidental – opera stars, friends, partners – is wonderfully drawn, real people doing the things that real people do.
The writing is really excellent, moving with absolute ease from the laugh-out-loud funny to the most desperately touching, always with a sense of fun but tweaking the strings of your heart when you least expect it. “Gorgeous and heart-warming” most certainly sums up this book – but it’s not the whole story, and amid the snowflakes, Christmas market stalls and laughter it was so lovely to find a book with an emotional depth that touched my heart. Jules, I’m sorry it took me so long…
About the author
Jules Wake’s earliest known declaration that she planned to be a writer came at the age of ten. Along the way she was diverted by the glamorous world of PR and worked on many luxury brands, taking journalists on press trips to awful places like Turin, Milan, Geneva, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and occasionally losing the odd member of the press in an airport. It gave her the opportunity to eat amazing food, drink free alcohol as well as providing opportunities to hone her writing skills on press releases and to research European cities for her books.
Eventually the voices in her head persuaded her it was time to sit down and write the novel she’d always talked about. Her debut novel, Talk to Me in 2014, was quickly followed by the bestselling From Italy With Love, published by HarperImpulse, which reached the top ten in the Amazon Kindle charts.
Jules’ book Covent Garden in the Snow was a Kindle Top 2 bestseller, and her latest book A Girl’s Best Friend will be published in paperback by Sphere in September. She also writes cosy romantic fiction as Julie Caplin and her next book in the Romantic Getaway series, The Little Paris Patisserie, will be published as an e-book by HarperImpulse in September, with the paperback to follow in November.
For Jules Wake
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