Saturday 29 November 2014

Review ~ A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale.

Title: A Christmas to Remember.
Author: Jenny Hale.
Publisher: Bookouture.
Genre: Contemporary Romance.
Publication Date: October 10, 2014.
Source: Review copy/Netgalley.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

Everyone loves Christmas – don’t they?

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie’s spare time is spent with other people’s families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year’s resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life.

As Carrie starts her last job, she’s sure she’ll be going out on a high – the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she’s in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss… single-dad, Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he’s always working. Doesn’t he realise he’s missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter?

As Adam’s family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There’s still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever… after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn’t it? Let the festivities begin!

A Christmas to Remember is another charmingly gorgeous novel by Jenny Hale, who has fast become one of my favourite authors. I love festive books which focus on what I consider the most important aspect of Christmas, the family aspect, and this book includes that in abundance. In it we meet Carrie, who’s spending the festive season working as a nanny with single dad Adam and his two lovely children, Olivia and David. Adam throws himself into his work and is seemingly oblivious to the fact he is surrounded by family and missing out on so many moments with his children. It’s left for Carrie to try and make him understand the importance of making memories and this was such a touching theme to the novel. Christmas for me is always about spending time with family and each year, we look back at moments from Christmases gone by and laugh and smile about them. When you’ve got little kids, surely you need to embrace the magical feel of Christmas, just for them, and I was desperate for that to happen here. A Christmas to Remember had a lovely warm, cosy feel to it and was so beautiful – the first book I’d choose to recommend for anyone looking for a heart-warming, Christmas read.

Carrie was a main character I liked instantly. Frustrated with the lack of direction in her own life, Carrie is approaching her last job as a nanny. She loves spending time with other people’s kids but more than that, she wants her own. She wants to settle down in her own perfect little family and make her own life better, instead of helping everyone else. But you know, she does a pretty wonderful job at helping other families. Carrie’s so caring and considerate – I couldn’t help but love her character. But what made me connect with Carrie the most is that I could relate to her so well. She’s a worrier, she battles with anxiety, she’s insecure and has a lack of confidence and the only time she feels okay is when she’s trying to help other people. I completely understood all of her issues and so, I warmed to her. I wanted to see a beautiful transition for Carrie throughout this novel, not only because I adored her character but because maybe it would give me hope too. I loved Carrie’s strength though and how she always wanted to help everybody else, without fail. Maybe her concern over everything might irritate some people but if you live with anxiety dominating your thought processes, you can see that really she has beautiful spirit and just want the best for her.

The format and writing in A Christmas to Remember, as I’ve come to expect from Jenny, was stunning. Each chapter starts with a quote from one of the self-help books Carrie feels the need to use. Not that they do her any good, since they always bring up more problems than she started with. Bless her, I’ve never used self-help books but you know that feeling when you google a problem that needs fixing and end up with about ten more issues you didn’t know were there to begin with. I loved that the quote for each chapter hinted at the sense of direction the novel was about to take. It was cleverly written and this book had everything I wanted to see, from a lovely slow-building romance to a great mixture of family to building trust, caring for each other and the attempts to make the best Christmas possible. I loved the way Carrie approached Adam, how she carefully worked at him to make him see what he was missing. Though she always had his kids’ best interests at heart, there was also the progression of a little something between her and Adam. I loved how meaningfully this was built up, without it being forced upon us too soon or too late, even, to believe in it. But I was of course wholeheartedly behind the hope of a happy ending – a magical, memorable Christmas for Adam and his family and maybe a new sense of positivity and direction for Carrie too.

I could really discuss A Christmas to Remember all day long, but I don’t think anybody would last reading this review for much longer. So my last mention will go to how wonderfully well Jenny developed every single character in this book, and we are introduced to quite a few of them in Adam’s family. There was Adam’s grandpa, Walter, who was warm and wise and always came in at the right moment. I adored him. Another character that particularly struck me was Adam’s sister, Sharon, who had her own little story to tell. This was, again, written beautifully and sensitively and it worked its way into the main story perfectly, because we really get to see it enhance Carrie’s character too. The focus on the dialogue and interaction between family members in A Christmas to Remember was great to read. Each character had their own individual voice and I could feel for them all – each just wanting the family to step up as one and make this Christmas special. My favourite moments came from the time Adam and Carrie spent with Olivia and David, but actually there wasn’t a moment in this novel I didn’t love. I could read Jenny Hale’s beautiful writing for months on end and never tire of it. After two months of reading Christmas novels so far, A Christmas to Remember is the best standalone and more than that, one of my favourite novels of the whole year too. Truly beautiful.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK


  1. Such a great review! And the book is amazing :).


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