Friday, 21 November 2014

'Christmas at Thornton Hall' by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Goodreads * Amazon * Amazon UK
Harper Impulse
Book Summary: When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!
So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.
The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.
But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?
As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!
CHRISTMAS AT THORNTON HALL is a country house romance for the modern age, a must-read for fans of the scandals and drama of Downton Abbey and the charm and wit of Helen Fielding.

This was my first Christmas book this season and I was counting on relaxing, easy read - I've definitely got it. I liked the main character of Juliet - a promising chef with a messed up past, hurt by a guy, trying to sort out her life working at Thornton Hall but instead getting even more confused and lost in her feelings.

This book gets crowded with a lot of versatile characters so fast it can be a bit puzzling. At first I had problems with remembering names and who is related to whom and I had to go back to some parts, but on the other hand that fun party of employees and lords makes an unique and enjoyable atmosphere. Some of heros and heroines are very likeable and lovely (Seamus, Rose and Isaac totally melted my heart), some are amusing, some are annoying and highly frustrating (whenever Lady Penelope was mentioned I was rolling my eyes with disbelief). For me it's important to have likes and dislikes in the book, the worst is to feel ambivalence towards characters and here I definitely have a strong impression of all of them.

There is a lot of going on in Thornton - not only dramas and love scandals but also unexpected plot twists and mysteries to discover (some of which are easy to figure out but some left me speechless). That all being set in an old mansion surrounded by snow and filled with delicious food aromas makes it a perfect chic lit Christmas read. Having known that this is the author's debut I'll happily give her other titles a go. The story of Juliet was promising enough.

I'd recommend this book for everyone who seeks for a good Christmassy chic lit, full of love triangles, startling plot twists, old mysteries and a lovely crew of characters. Don't try to read it while being on a diet because description of amazing dishes and smells from the kitchen will definitely make you hungry.

*Provided to me by Harper Impulse via NetGalley*

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

'Thoughtless' by S.C. Stephens

BEFORE READING MY REVIEW: I've read Thoughtless in my native language - Polish. I am willing to think that our translation a bit flattened the original story and especially general atmosphere of the book.

Book Summary: "For almost two years now, Kiera's boyfriend, Denny, has been everything she's ever wanted: loving, tender and endlessly devoted to her. When they head off to a new city to start their lives together, Denny at his dream job and Kiera at a top-notch university, everything seems perfect. Then an unforeseen obligation forces the happy couple apart.

Feeling lonely, confused, and in need of comfort, Kiera turns to an unexpected source—a local rock star named Kellan Kyle. At first, he's purely a friend that she can lean on, but as her loneliness grows, so does their relationship. And then one night everything changes...and none of them will ever be the same."

Thoughtless? Yes. Keira was thoughtless. And a bit annoying. Her indecision and choices she "tried to make" made her a character I didn't really like. I was eagerly waiting for her romance to be discovered by Denny. At some point, while I thought she's ready to take responsibility for her actions, the plot with "let's be friends" between Kellan and her totally destroyed me.

Despite the fact that the story is really long I feel like the author was rushing and just touching some things, showing problems with which characters dealt in a flat and superficial way. If the book was 200 pages shorter and had deeper insight into Keira's, Kellan's and Denny's emotions and situation, I would even consider giving it 5 stars.

However, Thoughtless is a light and engaging read, even if the constant drinking-morning-coffee scene was annoying. I will definitely read the second part of the series, hopefully something unexpected will happen there.