Mandy Baggot comes to the blog with a lovely story of holidays, inclusion, second chances and hope with
One Christmas Star
Nothing has ever been quite right for Emily since her boyfriend Simon was killed by a drunk driver crossing the street. With her parents unavailable at the best of times, and judgmental all of it, they can’t understand her penchant for vintage fashion or why she would give up the lucrative life as a solicitor and join their firm. Tired of the trappings of “do gooding” without actually doing good, Emily has felt like a disappointment for her entire life, and even her tiny rebellion with her best friend, gay, black and from the housing estates, also has come under fire. Now teaching 6th form in one of the more impoverished schools in the area, she’s constantly feeling as if she’s being judged: helping the particularly trod-on students, never quite feeling as if she’s ‘good enough’ to apply for the assistant Head position, and generally turning herself inside out to do the best for the kids every day, only to return to an empty flat, close to out-of-date ready meals and her bursting at the seams closet full of vintage fashions never yet worn.
One early morning – there is a disturbance in the school shed, and out rolls a very handsome and more than slightly hungover rock star by the name of Ray Stone, gingerly clutching a hedgehog with a broken leg. Both the man and the hedgehog are like catnip to the students – so after a particularly spiny first encounter – Ray and the hedgehog are admitted into the classroom and the RSPCA is called to treat said hedgehog – instantly named by the students (Olivia Colman) and Ray is summarily stuffed into the supplies cupboard when the Headmistress arrives. Of course this is to enforce her ‘rules’ and question the hedgehog’s appearance, while the issue of Ray is quietly and hastily dealt with. Fast forward a couple of days and Emily’s innate goodness and helpfulness, along with a steady dose of no judgments, has her slated to create the school’s “Christmas Extravaganza to be all new and spectacular – as the extra funding for the school is in jeopardy. With singer/songwriter Ray now staying in her flat as his situation went from fame to toilet with ‘revelations’ from his ex – she’s got someone who can help – and all she has to do is ask.
From here – we see both Emily and Ray dance about the attraction sparking between them, opening up, yet guarding their deepest, darkest secrets. And Baggot reveals those with a gentle hand – letting Emily’s grief for the loss of Simon and her worries about, well, everything balance the more shocking and (he thinks) shameful abuse that Ray suffered at the hands of his ex. With a new issue / secret that Ray has kept from everyone, opening up and sharing with one another, and then trusting in their friends and families to understand them better, when you add in the kids (10 year olds are particularly observant and unique) the stress involved in writing the show, and Emily’s desire to get her kids to stick to their own ideas of who and what they should be, disregarding their often difficult starts and struggles: the story is full of heart and hope – and done in a way that allows readers to see Emily and Ray as people, involved, complete and full of little issues and quirks that define their strength and show their true hearts in ways that make the story (and the holiday) ring true for everyone.
Title: One Christmas Star
Author: Mandy Baggot
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Holiday Themed, Multi-Cultural, Second Chance, Setting: Britain
Published by: Aria
Published on: 12 September, 2019
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Heat: Get Your Copy: Amazon ♦ Barnes&Noble ♦ iTunes ♦ Kobo ♦ Google
Emily Parker is set to have the worst Christmas ever!
Her flatmate's moved out, she's closed her heart to love and she's been put in charge of the school original Christmas show – with zero musical ability.
Disgraced superstar, Ray Stone is in desperate need of a quick PR turnaround. Waking up from a drunken stupor to a class of ten-year-olds snapping pics and Emily looking at him was not what he had in mind.
Ray needs Emily's help to delete the photos, and she needs his with the show. As they learn to work together they may just open their hearts to more than a second chance...
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.