Karen Clarke brings us back to the little French village of Chamillion, site of the Little French Café series for a story of second chances, family and finding your way through grief in
I’ll Be Home for Christmas
It’s been a bad patch for Nina: calling off her wedding to a cheating fiancé and then losing her beloved grandmother shortly after – everything is conspiring to make her idea of escaping Christmas and going to her aunt Dolly’s house for the season the best idea she’s had in ages. The French don’t go ‘overboard’ with Christmas, and she’s expecting a quiet time away from carols, tinsel, forced jollity and a chance to start her life off in a new direction with a travel blog. It’s just that Nina hates to fly, doesn’t really travel, and Aunt Dolly and her cousin Charlie are ‘All In” with a very British Christmas that includes holiday sweaters, music and a blow-up Santa. It all contrasts nicely with the unusual weather and snow – not a common site in the little village.
Things are even more complicated with Charlie’s best friend Ryan being in the mix – there to recover and regroup after his own engagement exploded spectacularly during his groom’s weekend – and his need to be away and out of contact with his ex. OH – and he’s got a deadline for his second novel which isn’t going well, and neither he nor Nina are expecting company in the little flat above the café. With a wonderfully funny introduction involving a koala onesie and spilled milk, Nina’s need to ‘tidy’ rooms and rearrange them to show them at their best, plenty of ‘matchmaking’ from Aunt Dolly, a disastrous miscommunication between Nina and Ryan, and the surprise appearance of both his ex and letters written by her grandmother that open a whole Pandora’s box of questions – the story is funny, sad, poignant and shows Dolly at her matchmaking best – pushing the two together at every opportunity.
Chamillion presents itself as a lovely ‘French tinged’ village, with many of the ex-pat Brits fitting in nicely and making their own little home in the town. With plenty of returning characters from the Little French Café series, we see a book launch, the return of Charlie’s girlfriend Elle, Dolly in her new married life and Hamish the Scottie dog with his owner Gerard. Answers to the questions that both Dolly and Nina’s mother had about their own mother’s life and loves, Nina finding a new start for her own love life and career, and a lovely moment to see the Northern Lights in the epilogue, the story works as both a continuation of the series or as a stand-alone, as the romance and holiday feel combine to bring healing and happiness to characters and readers alike.
Title: I’ll Be Home for Christmas,
Author: Karen Clarke
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Family Saga, Friendship, Holiday Themed, Second Chance, Setting: France
Published by: Bookouture
Published on: 14 October, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ IndieBound ♦ Google
Last Christmas, Nina gave away her heart – only to have it broken. But this year, at her family’s cosy café, could she find a second chance at love with someone special under the mistletoe?
Nina Bailey loves Christmas. Except this year she doesn’t. Because it turns out that her husband-to-be has been cheating on her – and her beautiful wedding ceremony in the snow is cancelled.
She’s not really in the mood to be jolly, sing carols, or go anywhere near gingerbread men – in fact, what Nina wants is to avoid the whole thing. So she’s come to stay at her Aunt Dolly’s cosy café to nurse her broken heart.
Nina is determined to get through Christmas with no tinsel, no fuss – and definitely no flirting. So when she arrives and meets infuriatingly handsome Ryan Sadler, with his gorgeous forest-green eyes, she is not best pleased. And when Nina overhears him making fun of her, she is furious. (There might have been an incident with a koala onesie and a spilled bottle of milk, but that really wasn’t her fault!) So despite the spark between them, and the fact that he can whip up a fabulous dinner faster than she can say Michelin star, romance and Christmas are off the menu this year.
Unfortunately, Aunt Dolly hasn’t quite got the message, going to great lengths to provide a proper British Christmas for her beloved niece: a true home away from home. With sparkling lights adorning every wall and a tree to equal the Rockefeller Center’s and, yes, mistletoe above every doorway, can Nina resist the magic of Christmas – and stick to her no-romance rule?
A copy of this title was provided via Publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.