It’s a real pleasure today to join the blog tour and share my review of Christmas at Wynter House by Emily Harvale, the first in her new Wyntersleap series, published in late September, and available for kindle and in paperback. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and for being so enthusiastic about Emily’s books that I really felt it was well beyond time for me to try one. Many thanks to the author (and Rachel) for my advance reading copy.
After a frosty welcome, things soon heat up at Wynter House.
Neva Grey is looking forward to spending a quiet Christmas with her family in the cosy cottage they’ve rented in the picture-postcard village of Wyntersleap. Nestled between rolling hills and a gently burbling river, it’s going to be idyllic.
Except it’s not. Torrential rain causes the river to burst its banks and the quaint little village isn’t quite so cosy with water lapping at the doors. Add to that a power cut and a sudden blizzard and Christmas is looking bleak… until gorgeous Adam Wynter invites them all to Wynter House.
Although not everyone is happy to share the ancestral home. Adam’s elder brother, Rafe is less than pleased. Their grandmother, Olivia extends a grudging welcome. And for Carruthers, the oddly arrogant butler, unexpected guests are a Christmas surprise he could do without. Especially one as troublesome as Neva’s eight-year-old niece.
But something’s not quite right at Wynter House. What is Rafe intent on hiding behind the locked doors of the old barn? And what really happened to his first wife? It’s a good thing Neva has a sense of humour. She’s going to need it this Christmas at Wynter House.
This is book one in the Wyntersleap series but it can be read as a standalone. The Wyntersleap series is interlinked with the Merriment Bay series and several characters appear in both series.
Why on earth haven’t I read one of Emily Harvale’s books before? I’ll certainly be reading one again, because I thoroughly enjoyed this one – great characters, a vivid sense of place, a bit of drama, a touch of mystery, plenty of gentle humour, a rather lovely developing romance, a focus on family and fresh starts, and quite wonderfully Christmassy. What’s not to like, eh?
I don’t really need to outline the story, because the blurb covers as much as you need to know. But it’s a story with plenty of twists and turns, and so well told. I really liked the author’s writing style, especially her use of dialogue – she’s particularly good at the family relationships, capturing the warmth and love in every exchange, and drawing each individual in such perfect detail.
But the whole book is overflowing with well-drawn characters, every one playing their part in the story, with a real sense of community. I particularly liked young niece Sasha with her obsession with ghosts and zombies (and her unfortunate inclination to voice and repeat overheard conversations), but also the two elderly ladies (and their dogs), the gossipy pair next door, and the wonderful Carruthers the butler with his expressive eyebrows (just don’t call him Archie!). Even the animals are so well drawn: Sasha’s large and uncontrollable puppy plays his part in the drama, and the spoilt cat needing some gentle care, casting a different light on some of the characters, was a really lovely touch.
I’ll admit it did take a while for Neva to win me over – but then Rafe Wynter has the same issue at first too. She firmly sets her cap at his brother Adam, and does rather rub Rafe up the wrong way – she’s a tad snippy, and has an unfortunate habit of voicing her thoughts out loud, with little thought for any offence she might cause. But she very much grew on me, and when the entire community find themselves holed up at Wynter House for the Christmas period (there are worse places!) we watch the relationships develop, with a rather nice touch of the unexpected.
I enjoyed the phone conversations with Neva’s friend too, who’s having a difficult Christmas of her own, reflecting on developments and filled with a real warmth and affection. And the book’s whole sense of place is really excellent – Wyntersleap with its cosy pub, small shop and cluster of cottages, the reservoir and waterfalls and the fast flowing river, the ancestral home at Wynter House, all vividly drawn. I equally liked the introduction to Merriment Bay – again, beautifully drawn, and the perfect location for more stories to come.
This really was the loveliest story to escape into for an afternoon and allow the world to disappear – I’m just rather sorry it took me so long to try one of the author’s books. Definitely recommended by me.
With thanks to Emily and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer the chance to win a Christmas at Wynter House themed cushion (size 18 x 18 inches), a Wrendale Designs Christmas shopping pad, and a Yankee Candle tealight holder and Winter Glow tealight (open internationally). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
Emily writes novels, novellas and short stories about friendship, family and falling in love. She loves a happy ending but knows that life doesn’t always go to plan. Her stories are sure to bring a smile to your face and a warmth to your heart.
Emily loves to connect with her readers and has a readers’ group in which many have become good friends. To catch up with Emily, find out about the group, or connect with her on social media, go to her website at www.emilyharvale.com.
Having lived and worked in London for several years, Emily returned to her home town of Hastings where she now writes full-time. She’s a member of the SoA and the RWA, an Amazon bestseller and a Kindle All Star. When not writing, she can be found enjoying the stunning East Sussex coast and countryside, or in a wine bar with friends, discussing life, love and the latest TV shows. Chocolate cake is often eaten. She dislikes housework almost as much as she dislikes anchovies – and will do anything to avoid both. Emily has two mischievous rescue cats that like to sprawl across her keyboard, regardless of whether Emily is typing on it, or not.