A real pleasure today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Happy Christmas Eve by Jackie Ladbury, published for kindle by Ruby Fiction on 15th October, available via Amazon in the UK and US. It’s also available in all other major e-book formats, and as an audiobook. My thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the publishers for my advance reading copy.
You’ll perhaps already know that I’m quite fond of the writing of several of the Write Romantics – you’ll find them all here, and it was rather lovely to see a few of them gathered together at the RNA Winter Party. I’ve never read a book by Jackie Ladbury before, but she has appeared on the pages of Being Anne – back in January, talking about Air Guitar and Caviar, and whether (or not) she bases her characters on real people (you’ll find that post here). So about time I read one, eh? And at 184 pages – a slightly longer than average novella – with a rather intriguing story-line, this one really did look like one I’d enjoy…
All I want for Christmas is you … or you?
Eve Halligan is back in her hometown for Christmas after a whirlwind few years touring with her band, the Molotovs. A lot has changed since she left, but two things have stayed the same. One: Eve is head-over-heels in love with Lucien Malikov, the Molotovs’ bad boy lead singer. Two: Lucien is completely indifferent to her.
Still, Eve dreams that this could be the Christmas where she convinces Lucien that they’re made for each other. But when childhood friend and local caterer Theo Wright comes back into her life bringing with him festive cupcake and sausage roll conundrums, Eve begins to question whether her Christmas dreams have been wasted on the wrong man…
The publishers are calling this one “a heart-warming Christmas story to put you in the mood for the festive season” – and I couldn’t agree more. Eve has loved Lucien since childhood – he was the privileged child of rich Russian parents, indulged in every way, while she was the housekeeper’s daughter. Now he’s a rock star, belting out his songs for his adoring fans. But they’re really not his songs, are they? Eve’s the song writer – and a pretty impressive singer and guitarist too – but there are few people that know that. She’s now Lucien’s assistant and dogsbody, still hoping for an unlikely show of affection, brushing away the rubbish and fetching and carrying whatever he requires.
Eve is the loveliest character, but there are times when you really want to shake some sense into her. Why on earth didn’t she stick with the equally lovely Theo? He’d have been there for her in a way Lucien never has been – they could have run their catering business together, and most definitely lived happily ever after. And when she returns to her hometown, he’s still there, just waiting to pick up the pieces – but will Eve ever walk away from Lucien and her life in his shadow?
This is a great story – plenty of “will she/won’t she”, and more than a few moments when you want to give Eve a big hug and throw a punch at slimy and entitled Lucien. It’s not too Christmassy – but just Christmassy enough for anyone’s tastes. Remember that catering business? There’s a lot of food in this book (my kind of Christmas really…), and it’s full of the tastes and smells of cooking, really not a book to read if you’re feeling hungry. A chocolate fan? There’s some lovely detail you’ll really enjoy too. The writing is excellent – a nice conversational style, a gentle emotional touch, a well-drawn setting, just the right amount of humour to offset the pain of unrequited love – and the pages fly by as you really hope for a happy ending.
I really enjoyed this one… another one to add to your Christmas reading list!
About the author
Jackie Ladbury writes heart-warming contemporary and historical women’s fiction that is always guaranteed a happy ever after. From spending many years as an air-stewardess and seeing that it really is love that makes the world go around, she determined to put the same sparkle and emotion into her stories. Her life is no longer as exotic (or chaotic) as it was in those heady days of flying as she now lives a quiet life in Hertfordshire with her family and two cats, spending her days making up stories and finding excuses not to go to the gym.
To find out more about Jackie Ladbury, check out these pages: