It’s an absolute pleasure today to be joining the blog tour for the latest book from Kathryn Freeman, A Little Christmas Hope: independently published, the third in the Christmas Wishes series, it’s now available for kindle via Amazon in the UK and US. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support, and to the author for my advance reading e-copy.
I’ve now featured Kate and her books so many times here on Being Anne (I so love her writing!) that I don’t even try to list all her others any more, just suggest that you pop her name into the search bar to find all the reviews, cover reveals, spotlights and guest posts there have been over the years. But this is a Christmas read – and they’re always particularly special. If you really pushed me, and promised not to tell anyone, I could produce a list of my half dozen favourite Christmas books of all time – and near the top you’d find the first in this series, A Little Christmas Faith (you’ll find my review here). The second, A Little Christmas Charm, was thoroughly lovely too (review here) but for me it didn’t quite have the same magic (I’m very demanding…!). But when I saw that this book was on its way, I really got rather excited – might this be another I could add to that “best of the best” shortlist?
Newly promoted head teacher Anna Dalton needs a Christmas miracle – and fast! After years of sitting through excruciatingly dull Christmas productions, complete with crying children and sleeping parents, she’s determined Riddlescomb Primary School will put on a Nativity to remember.
Enter bad boy actor Dan Ramsey, recently axed from the lead role in a TV drama and in desperate need of cleaning up his image or he’ll never work again.
Dan can flash those heart-stopping dimples all he likes, Anna tells herself she isn’t going to fall for them. She knows why he’s decided to volunteer at the school, and it’s for the good of his career…not his soul.
But as Anna and Dan are forced to work together for the sake of a truly magical Christmas for the children, sparks fly and they can’t help but wonder what will happen once the festive season is over…
This might not be the first Christmas read you’ve come across that features the preparations for the school nativity play – but this time it’s with a bit of a twist when Dan Ramsey, sacked from his part in a TV soap and a bit of a bad boy, picks up the reins in an attempt to salvage his reputation. But it becomes so much more than that when he becomes increasingly involved with the children, and really invested in its success – writing the play himself, winning over the teachers (even reluctant Sid, who really wanted to produce A Christmas Carol – again), encouraging the children reluctant to take part, and supporting those with the potential to be real stars.
And then there’s his developing relationship with headteacher Anna – she’s a great character, with a nice edge of sadness after the loss of her husband, mother to the wonderful Maisie. He’s been warned off any new relationships by his agent – no more unfortunate headlines, just get the job done and leave – but the attraction between them sizzles from their very first encounter. “Sizzle” is a word I’m sure I must have used about some of the author’s other books, but the romance in this book is – I think – the best she’s ever written. Both Dan and Anna are entirely real as we share their thoughts and fears, and everything about the way things develop is absolutely convincing as they both try (singularly unsuccessfully!) to resist the attraction between them – but Anna needs to move on from her memories of her husband, Dan needs to rebuild his relationship with his young son, and there are so many other obstacles in the way.
And then there’s Maisie, only too happy to try to hurry things along with her embarrassing interventions – and so very funny with it. In fact, all the children in this book are quite wonderful – and I felt for Dan’s young son too, caught up in the fallout from a toxic marriage with its death throes played out in the tabloid headlines. But the adult characters are excellent too – I’ve already mentioned Sid ( I just loved his storyline…), but I also really liked Anna’s lovely in-laws, and his increasingly despairing agent on the end of the phone.
It was really lovely too to pay another visit to my favourite hotel in the Lakes, meeting up with some old friends (and Nip and Tuck!) – if you haven’t read the other Christmas books, it really won’t matter one bit, but I found it a particular treat. But this whole book really was a treat and delight from beginning to end – I know I say that about all Kathryn Freeman’s books, but this one was particularly special. One of those perfect romances and so much more, I really loved it – go on, add it to your Christmas reading list!
About the author
A former pharmacist, I’m now a medical writer who also writes romance. Some days a racing heart is a medical condition, others it’s the reaction to a hunky hero.
I’ve two sons and a husband who asks every Valentine’s Day whether he has to buy a card (yes, he does), any romance is all in my head. Then again, his unstinting support of my career change proves love isn’t always about hearts and flowers – and heroes come in many disguises.