Phew – it was a bit touch and go for a while (it’s been such a busy month!), but I’m really so delighted to be able to share my review of Christmas Wishes by Sue Moorcroft on publication day. Published by Avon, you can now download the ebook for Kindle, Kobo and from Apple: the paperback (available for preorder here, or from your favourite bookshop) and audiobook will be available on 12th November. My thanks to Avon for my advance reading e-copy, provided via netgalley.
I unfailingly love Sue’s books, and I really enjoy being part of her Street Team – though it never influences my reviews (if I didn’t enjoy a book, I’d say so, and there would be no review – but it certainly hasn’t happened yet!). It’s really lovely to have the chance to chat through the private Facebook group, to be party to all Sue’s news before she shares with others, and sometimes to be able to help with character names (I’m hopeless at it though!) – and also to get some snippets of information that give some background to her books.
Did you know why this one was partly set in Sweden? She was wondering about the setting when her British-Swedish author friend Christina Courtenay said, ‘Why don’t you come to Sweden with me? We can stay with Mum.’ There was snow during their trip – and for a while the book’s working title was Snow in Stockholm. But although Sue loves to travel to research her books, she also loves returning to Middledip – she’s always worried that readers might get sick of the village (no Sue, never!) and is relieved that they do seem to like it too. If you’re a fan of Sue’s writing, you might like to join her Street Team too – you’ll find more details here.
But let’s take a closer look at this gorgeous book…
A sparkling Christmas read from the Sunday Times bestseller – perfect to snuggle up with this winter!
Hannah and Nico are meant to be together.
But fate is keeping them apart…
As soon as Hannah bumps into her brother Rob’s best friend Nico in Stockholm, the two rekindle a fast friendship. But Hannah has a boyfriend – and Nico has two children to look after.
When Hannah loses her beloved shop in Stockholm, though, she is forced to move back to the little village of Middledip – only to find Nico has just moved in too. Under the same snowy sky, can the childhood friends make a romance work – or are there too many obstacles standing in their way?
A heartwarming story of love, friendship, and Christmas magic, perfect for fans of Trisha Ashley and Jill Mansell.
I was about to say “I love Sue Moorcroft’s Christmas books” but that’s not entirely true – I love ALL her books. But I know I’ve mentioned before that I’ve always had a particularly soft spot for the Christmas ones – I also know I’ve said before “this is her best book yet”, but I really do have to say it yet again. I loved every moment of this book, and it really reminded me why she’s unfailingly one of my favourite authors.
So, why did I love it so much? Well, just for a start, the locations are wonderful – the Swedish research really shines through, from Stockholm’s shopping centre to the early Christmas celebrations in a more rural location. There are lots of cultural and food references I found quite fascinating, and I learned a lot about family life. And then, of course, there was Middledip – I know my way around there rather well now, and it was lovely to have a Christmas drink in The Three Fishes (yes, sleigh and reindeer on the roof – all’s well with the world!) and pop into the Angel Cafe for coffee and a chocolate-dipped shortbread Christmas angel. I rather liked that new Courtyard shopping development too – and also meeting so many characters I recognised, like Ratty and lovely Gabe (but if you’ve never met them before, it really doesn’t matter one bit).
Then there are the characters. Hannah is just so thoroughly lovely inside and out – but how on earth did she end up with an obnoxious toad like Albin? Walking away might have meant the loss of her beloved shop, but I think I might have made that sacrifice rather sooner – I’ve rarely felt such anger about a character and his actions. And then there’s lovely Nico – he might just be my favourite romantic lead in any of the author’s books. He has real challenges in his life (the author’s books always have a few welcome harder edges), not least his relationship with food – it’s a theme I’ve never come across before in a novel, and extremely well handled. But there are more problems on the way – with one child in his care (and he’s such a wonderful father) he finds himself caring for another one, when his ex-wife goes distinctly off the rails (another very realistically handled situation) and his existing support network then begins to fall apart.
I must say a word about the two children, Josie and Maria – they’re quite wonderfully drawn and I must say they entirely won my heart (and for someone who usually recoils from children in books, that’s quite a big deal!). I particularly enjoyed the interactions – Maria’s echoing of key words in a conversation was so very cleverly done, and frequently made me laugh. I could then run through all the other key characters and tell you how wonderful they are too, but I’ll resist – but I did love Hannah’s parents, and her lovely Nan (and her resistance to a pre-nup!), while Nico’s horrendous mother-in-law got me almost as angry as Albin did.
As for the romance… well, that was everything I wanted it to be, a lovely friendship and a spark of attraction at first, a few misunderstandings, but it then develops into something considerably more. Emotionally, I thought it worked ever so well – warm and touching, believable and authentic, and I sometimes had a real lump in my throat and a tear in my eye.
I’ve already read and enjoyed a lot of Christmas books this year, but this was one of the particularly special ones. Go on, add it to your reading list – I thought it was just wonderful, and I recommend it really highly. Do you know, I think it might even be another addition to my Books of the Year list… yes, it really is that good!
About the author
Sue Moorcroft is a Sunday Times and international bestselling author and has reached the coveted #1 spot on Amazon Kindle UK. She’s won the Goldsboro Books Contemporary Romantic Novel Award, Readers’ Best Romantic Novel award and the Katie Fforde Bursary. Sue’s novels of love and life are currently released by publishing giant HarperCollins in the UK, US and Canada and by other publishers around the world. Her short stories, serials, columns, writing ‘how to’ and courses have also travelled widely.
Born in Germany into an army family, Sue spent much of her childhood in Cyprus and Malta but settled in Northamptonshire aged ten. She loves reading, Formula 1, travel, time spent with friends, dance exercise and yoga.
For more information on Sue and her books, she has an excellent website, and a blog: she also has a Facebook author page, and you can follow her on Twitter and Instagram. And if you’d like sign up for her newsletter, you can do so here.