It’s a delight today to be helping launch the blog tour for A Christmas Wish on a Carousel by Lottie Cardew, and to share my review. This lovely book was independently published on 4th October, and is now available for kindle (just 99p, and free via Kindle Unlimited). My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support – the copy I read was my own, purchased via Amazon.
While Lottie Cardew’s very much new on the scene, I hope I’m not sharing too much of a secret by telling you that this book isn’t entirely a debut – she previously wrote as Valerie-Anne Baglietto, and I had the privilege of first discovering her wonderful writing way back in 2013. That book was a “short”, The Little Book of Lost Hearts (still available – and you’ll find a short review here) – and I absolutely loved it. I caught up on her writing again in 2015 with Four Sides to Every Story (recently republished for kindle with a lovely new cover – and just 99p, or free via KU), a thoroughly lovely read filled with romance and heartbreak and more than a touch of magic – and Val joined me again to celebrate the book’s first birthday (you’ll find her guest post here). It’s been a long wait for this one – life’s like that at times – but I was really excited to see the arrival of Lottie, and to discover whether her first book would have all the wonderful sparkle that I still remember…
Snuggle up under your favourite blanket and escape to the beautiful village of Pebblestow this winter, for one of the most heartwarming stories of the season…
When Cara Mia Shaw makes a desperate wish one night, while riding on a carousel at a Christmas market, little does she know her small, but safe world is about to spin off its axis.
Befriending a fascinating returnee to the village, an elderly woman called Perdita with a jaunty pink beret and the wisdom of a life well lived, might set Cara on a different, albeit harder, course, if she’s brave enough to listen. Art was always her passion, after all, even if fate seemed to have other ideas.
And then there’s the new man in her life, who her friends think is perfect for her because they set her up with decent, reliable Greg in the first place. Cara’s been hurt enough times to know the difference between a good man and a feckless one. Until Wilfred comes along – moody, sarcastic, and scattered – just to complicate matters and meddle with Cara’s resolve, to the horror of almost everyone around her. But is either man ultimately meant for her, anyway? And will she self-sabotage as usual, or gamble everything this time, including her heart?
It might take the highs and lows of friendship, the risk of a forbidden romance, and a Pomeranian called Loki – not to mention some much-needed Christmas magic – before Cara finally realises the wish she made that night on the carousel might just be about to come true.
This book was absolutely beautiful – everything I wanted it to be, and then a little more. But I knew I was going to love it from the very beginning, as Cara wanders around a Christmas market that no longer has quite the magic she remembers – until she stumbles across an old-fashioned carousel, bringing back memories of her father and her happy childhood, and when she rides makes a heartfelt wish that she doesn’t entirely believe will ever come true.
Much of the story has the overall feel of a conventional romantic comedy – a loveable heroine, her unconventional living arrangements and her relationship with her landlady, her day job at the cafe, her meddling but supportive friends, and a love triangle where she needs to choose between the perfect match (well, maybe) favoured by her friends or the rather more dangerous and exciting Wilf. The voice of the book is Cara’s – and I adored her from the outset, with her gentleness, her sadness and all her insecurities, coupled with a wry sense of humour than never failed to make me smile.
And then, in a quiet corner of the cafe, she stumbles across Perdita – a fragile old lady who wears a striking pink beret, taking a break in Pebblestow amid all the happy memories of her earlier life – and the pair become friends as she shares details about her life and the wisdom she’s learned. Cara has some difficult decisions to make – about her future, whether she should stay with the familiar or finally follow her dreams, and whether one of her new relationships will bring her happiness – until she realises that everything hinges on that wish she made on the carousel, and the whole story gains a real sparkle of Christmas magic.
There was so much I loved about this book – the strong supporting cast (including Loki, the characterful Pomeranian), the strong friendships, the acceptability of being “different”, Cara’s own reflections and quieter moments, the exceptionally good use of dialogue, the sheer originality of the story and, most certainly, the way it’s told. The whole story has immense warmth and heart, engaging at a deep emotional level – and although it’s always infused with a gentle and perfectly judged humour, there were points when it moved me to tears. The romantic content is just wonderful – strong and believable, and I really yearned for them to find happiness – and that surprise over the story’s moments of real magic filled my heart with sheer delight.
This is such a difficult book to review – I so desperately don’t want to spoil it for others by reducing it to “a story” when its sheer beauty lies in the unexpected, the way it all unfolds and the way it makes you feel. Welcome to the world, Lottie Cardew – so many readers are going to love your books every bit as much as I did.
About the author
Lottie Cardew was born during the Great Lockdown of early 2021, and writes uplifting, heartstring-tugging romcoms with no mention of anything remotely resembling a pandemic. She lives in North Wales, subdues the other members of Novelistas Ink if they misbehave – including the popular authors Trisha Ashley and Sophie Claire – and is a huge advocate of diversity and OwnVoices in fiction. Lottie has previously written as Valerie-Anne Baglietto, and is diagnosed autistic with suspected ADHD. Her home is currently overrun by husband, not-very-small children, and a ball of fluff masquerading as a Pomeranian, so Lottie often takes refuge at her pop-up desk in the bedroom.
Lottie guarantees her books will have a HEA ending, and some might possibly have a tiny hint of magic, too. They will always be warm, emotional, and witty (she hopes), and transport her readers to lovely places because everyone needs somewhere safe to escape to at times.