I had a particularly difficult decision to make this month – no, not one of those “real life” ones, but which of Jessica Redland’s two Christmas books to read and review when I knew I couldn’t manage them both. You already know how much I love Jessica’s books… but I think I chose well. I loved every single moment of Callie’s Christmas Wish – published on 25th October by Little Bear Books – and it’s an absolute joy to join the blog tour today and share my review.
Christmas is approaching and love is in the air at Bay View Care Home. Supervising carer, Callie Derbyshire, is blissfully happy with new boyfriend, Rhys. The tree’s up, the lights are twinkling, and, with the Christmas Eve wedding of one of the residents, Iris, to look forward to, everything is perfect.
Rhys’s ex has him at her beck and call, yet refuses to let Callie meet their baby daughter. Callie’s ex is intent on stirring up trouble. And Callie’s favourite resident, Rhys’s nanna, Ruby, hasn’t been her usual self since Iris announced her engagement.
Convinced that Ruby’s lonely, especially after discovering the truth about her lost love, Callie’s determined to give Ruby’s romantic story the happy ending it deserves. Ruby might be adamant that the past should be left in the past. But, when it comes to true love, surely a little well-meaning meddling and a Christmas wish or two can’t do any harm. After all, it’s never to late to let love in again. Or is it?
A heartwarming Christmas story of finding new love, and the courage to revisit a love that was lost long ago.
(But I bet I’d also have loved Christmas at The Chocolate Pot Café – go on, do take a look at that one too!)
You’ll notice that this book is sub-titled Still Raving About Rhys, and yes, it does pick up the threads started in the earlier story – if you’d like to read my review of Raving About Rhys, you’ll find it here. So for me it was an opportunity to spend some more time with characters whose company I’d so enjoyed, see how life was treating Callie and Rhys, and to get to know Ruby – and the other residents of the Bay View Care Home – rather better. But don’t worry for an instant about this being a sequel – it’s 100% readable as a stand-alone, with the background story well-covered.
I loved Callie from the moment I met her in the prequel – with her big heart, worn on her sleeve – and it was such a delight to find that things were working out for her and Ruby’s grandson Rhys. They really are made for each other, and their relationship makes you feel so warm and fuzzy – but it’s not without its challenges when faced with obnoxious Tony raising his head again, Rhys’ ex making unreasonable demands over daughter Megan, and his difficult relationship with father Ed. And Callie’s constantly trying to bring happiness into everyone’s lives, even when they resist and her own happiness might be the price she has to pay. The storyline around Ruby is just wonderful – the full story of her past, all those family secrets and misunderstandings – with the fear of loneliness as friend Iris marries and moves away, but the hope that there might still be a chance of a happy ending for her too.
The exceptional warmth of the author’s writing never ceases to impress me – there are some beautiful moments in this book that really can’t help but make your emotions spill over. The engraved bench, the unusual obstruction in the water feature, the teddy bear, the gift from troubled Denise, the piano music box – all simply perfect. There are wonderful set pieces too – perfectly constructed small scenes that have you cheering for the people involved. The humour throughout is perfectly judged, every character so well drawn, the relationships authentic, the dialogue sparkling and totally natural – and the whole story, with its different threads, was absolutely everything I wanted it to be. And should you not have felt tears pricking your eyes at a few points in the story, the ending will make you properly cry – and smile, and wish the book didn’t have to end. Is it Christmassy? Oh yes – but if you can’t fit in the reading until later, it won’t matter one bit. I’ve enjoyed every book I’ve read by Jessica Redland, but I just loved this one – my new favourite, and highly recommended.
About the author
Jessica had never considered writing as a career until a former manager kept telling her that her business reports read more like stories and she should write a book. She loved writing but had no plot ideas. Then something happened to her that prompted the premise for her debut novel, Searching for Steven. She put fingers to keyboard and soon realised she had a trilogy and a novella!
She lives on the stunning North Yorkshire Coast – the inspiration for the settings in her books – with her husband, daughter, cat, Sprocker Spaniel, and an ever-growing collection of collectible teddy bears. Although if the dog has her way, the collection will be reduced to a pile of stuffing and chewed limbs!
Her passion for North Yorkshire is shared by fellow-writer and great friend, Sharon Booth and, together, they are the Yorkshire Rose Writers.
Jessica tries to balance her time – usually unsuccessfully – between being an HR tutor and writing.