It’s a delight today to be joining the blog tour for The Christmas Swap by Sandy Barker, and to share my review. The ebook will be published by One More Chapter on 16th October, and is available for pre-order via Amazon, for Kobo, and via Apple: the paperback will follow on 26th November, and can be pre-ordered through Foyle’s and Waterstones, as well as Amazon and your local bookshop. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and the usual excellent support, and to the publishers for my advance reading e-copy (provided via netgalley).
You know I’m a fan by now, don’t you? I might have missed out on reading the first book in her Holiday Romance series, One Summer in Santorini (just 99p for your kindle) – but I absolutely adored That Night In Paris (still just 99p for kindle), that European tour, Cat’s journey to happiness, the humour and the perfect romance (you’ll find my review again here). And then came A Sunset in Sydney, when Sarah discovers what really makes her happy, along with a lot more of that welcome armchair travel – and I enjoyed that one every bit as much (review here). So… let’s see how Sandy Barker does Christmas!
Christmas is coming and best friends Chloe, Jules, and Lucy are needing change… so swapping homes for the holidays could be the perfect present for all of them!
Australian Chloe spends her Christmas in a sleepy village in Oxfordshire, England. She is totally star-struck when she discovers who lives across the road.
Lucy, who has jetted off to snowy Colorado for her dream-come-true white Christmas, is taken into the fold of Jules’s loud and brash family, discovering more about herself in a few short days than she has in years.
And Jules leaves the cold climes of Colorado to spend her Christmas on a beach with Chloe’s friends in Melbourne, finding that time away is just what she needed.
The only thing better than one Christmas romance is three, and this wonderful festive novel is perfect for fans of Sarah Morgan, Holly Martin and Karen Swan.
As I’ve been reading and reviewing Christmassy books since the first week in September, I suspect you might have realised that they’re something I really enjoy – so you can only imagine my delight when I discovered that this book focuses on not one but three very different Christmases. Jules, Lucy and Chloe have been the closest of friends since childhood, despite the fact that they live on different continents: when they talk about Christmas, they’re all looking for something different, and the obvious answer is to swap their Christmas experiences.
Instead of her traditional family Christmas in an Oxfordshire village, Lucy heads off for Colorado, Jules’ extended family, and the white Christmas she’s always craved: Jules heads for Melbourne, for a beach and city break with Chloe’s friends, and where the heat will be more than just the warmth of the season. And Chloe? She finds herself in Lucy’s very pink childhood bedroom in Oxfordshire, roped in to helping organise the village fair.
I loved all the Christmas detail – the differing traditions, the food, the entertainment – but all three of them find romance, with Jules’ lovely little brother Will, with Matt the winemaker, and with Alan (now Archer) the rather unexpected international film star. Their stories alternate, clearly signposted, smooth and easy to follow – I’d planned to tell you which one I enjoyed the most, but just can’t because all three are quite lovely stories, beautifully told.
Well ok, if you push me a bit, I might particularly mention Chloe and Archer – as film stars go (and you don’t often find one in Oxfordshire, spending his Christmas with his mum), he’s very real and grounded, but fame has its downside when the press are watching your every move, and that’s without the additional complication of the ex from hell. But who couldn’t also love Lucy’s snowbound experience – the skiing, the snowboarding, the rum-infused hot chocolate, the cabin in the woods? But then there’s Jules’ Australian adventure – Melbourne itself, the beach, the winelands… I loved them all equally.
Underpinning it all is that amazing friendship between the three women – shaken up a bit at times, a little light conflict, but no-one writes female friendship quite like Sandy Barker. The supporting characters are quite wonderful too – the families, and each woman’s own friendship circle – and I really don’t think I’d have said no to any of their gorgeous love interests. I read this whole book in one glorious sitting – and when I finished, I really felt I’d been travelling, spending Christmas on three continents, and enjoying every single moment.
There’s such a tremendous warmth about the whole book – the settings, the festive touches, the way the characters develop and discover themselves, that strong friendship, the perfect romances – and I entirely loved it. You really must add it to your Christmas reading list – you’re going to love it too.
About the author
Sandy Barker is a writer, traveller and hopeful romantic with a lengthy bucket list. She loves exploring new places, outdoor adventures, and eating and drinking like a local when she travels, and many of her travel adventures have found homes in her novels. She’s also an avid reader, film buff, wine lover and coffee snob.