It’s such a pleasure to share my review of One Magical Christmas, the new novella by Berni Stevens, published today by Choc Lit, available from Amazon for kindle and as an audiobook, and also available on all other major e-book platforms. And if I wasn’t feeling particularly sparkly and tinselly before – it is still October, after all – I most certainly do now! Many of you will already know of Berni because of the gorgeous covers she unfailingly designs for her publisher’s wonderful books – and for quite a few of my other favourite authors too. But this is the first time I’ve read one of her books. I do have a bit of an aversion to vampires and the paranormal, and I’d thought that Dance Until Dawn and Revenge is Sweet might just be a tad outside my comfort zone – which was actually quite wrong of me, because I read the extract from the first book that ends this novella and liked it very much. But this gorgeous book… if you’re looking for something quite perfectly Christmassy that’ll warm your heart and give you that unashamedly festive feeling, you won’t find anything much better…
Christmas magic doesn’t really exist – does it?
When Annie Berry collides with Nik Knoll in a car park on the day of her sister’s wedding, it feels like all of Nik’s Christmases have come at once. Annie seems like just the sort of woman he’d like to get to know, and the chance nature of their encounter is almost like, well… Christmas magic.
But Nik has a secret, and he has to be sure that he can trust Annie before he tells her. The problem is that this secret has a Christmas deadline, and time is running out…
Just sometimes, you can see where a story’s heading fairly early on – that’s the case with this one, but it doesn’t matter one jot. It’s an absolute joy getting there – Annie’s the loveliest character, agonising about so many personal things that cause her angst, possessed of the warmest of hearts and the loveliest of personalities. After she fells Nik in the car park, you know they’re made for each other, and you’re yearning for a happy ever after – and it’s really not too difficult to guess his big Christmas secret.
I loved the nursery (children, not plants…), the animals Annie cares for in Nik’s absence (Merlin the pony is just wonderful, a real personality), the little chap who mysteriously appears and disappears, the touches of real world nastiness and drama – and the gift of a pendant that seems to have Christmas lights and magic all of its own is a wonderful introduction to the greater magic to come. And it really is – everything that makes the Christmas season special, all wrapped up in snow and tinsel and sparkling lights in the most gorgeous closing scenes, making you glow inside.
The writing is excellent – and the novella the perfect length to unfold the lovely story, but with enough depth to the characters to get you invested in their happiness. I don’t know if the author found it difficult to move away from her usual darkness to write a story so unashamedly romantic and touching, but if she did it most certainly doesn’t show. I really loved this one – go on, give it a try too, it’ll be Christmas sooner than you think!
About the author
Berni Stevens lives in a four-hundred-year-old cottage in Hertfordshire, England, with her husband, son and black cat. She trained in graphic design and has worked as a book cover designer for more than twenty years.
Books and art remain her passion, and her love of the paranormal began when she first read Bram Stoker’s Dracula, aged fourteen. She is now on both the committee and the book panel of the Dracula Society, a society for fans of gothic literature and film.