Updated: Dec 9, 2019
I was invited to review Christmas in Little Penhaven by Angela Britnell as part of a blog tour through Rachel's Random Resources, and I'd like to thank Rachel, Choc Lit publishers, and Angela for providing a copy of this wonderful book, as well as the opportunity to participate in this blog tour.
Have yourself a little Cornish Christmas …
Wannabe author Jane Solomon is expecting an uneventful Christmas in her Cornish village of Little Penhaven.
But then super fit American gym owner Hal Muir comes to town, and suddenly the holiday season looks set to be far more interesting. Hal is keen on embracing every British tradition on offer, from mince pies to Christmas pub quizzes – and perhaps some festive romance too …
I started this book unsure of what to expect, as someone who is new to reading romances, and very picky about them. Plus, the book was Christmas themed, which is definitely out of my wheelhouse, since I don’t celebrate Christmas and tend to be a Grinch during the holiday season. In my defense, it’s tough listening to endless Christmas songs for more than a month while my own holiday is completely overlooked. *gets off soapbox* But this book pleasantly surprised me.
I took a liking to Jane right away. The book opens with her at work, dreading the Christmas music at work. She’s clearly devoted to her writing, but has to do that in her off hours, since she works full time and spends much of her free time taking care of her mother and teenaged half-brother. Somehow, she also finds time to see her girlfriends every week for their SAP [single and proud] meeting. She doesn’t like most of the Christmas traditions, like mince pies and Christmas pudding. Now that’s a girl I can get along with! She also has no problem speaking up for herself, although she is terribly nice. One of her most endearing qualities (in my humble opinion) is her tendency to incorporate character traits of people she knows into her books. If she doesn’t like someone or something that they do, they become a character she kills off in her mystery books. It seems to be a highly effective way to manage conflict or frustrating people.
Hal is a bit different. He’s in Cornwall visiting his cousin Samantha (a married SAP} after deciding he needed some space to re-evaluate his priorities. While visiting, he quickly charms just about everyone in the whole town, and wastes absolutely no time asking Jane out on a date. I couldn’t help but like him – he’s basically the perfect man! He’s kind, smart, funny, open-minded, handsome, and a really great communicator. What isn’t there to like about this guy?
The first date doesn’t go very well, but they aren’t easily discouraged. As Hal learns about Christmas traditions in Little Penhaven, he’s determined to try everything … including mince pies. While he’s sweet on Jane right away, he discovers that the other Christmas traditions grow on him.
Throughout the book, we don’t just see these two, but a whole cast of charming characters … and one bad egg. Hal seems to create positive changes in the community, improving the life of almost everyone that is fortunate enough to have met him. It definitely didn’t hurt that he likes two of the only Christmas movies that I love: Bad Santa and Elf!
While it is a romance, it has a genuine plot, just a hint of conflict, and it isn’t too steamy. It’s a nice story about two people, but also about the bigger picture: having a positive impact on the lives of others, supporting other people’s goals, and improving relationships between others. If there’s one thing I didn’t absolutely love, it’s that Hal seems too perfect. How can someone have literally no flaws or character traits? There has to be some kind of rule about that! But other than that, I really liked this book. I flew through the reading, and it was just about the right length.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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About the Author
Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee to visit family and friends, drink tea and eat far too many Cornish pasties!
A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she's visited or lived on her extensive travels. Thanks to over three decades of marriage to her wonderful American husband she's a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after.
She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers.
If you'd like to find out more of what Angela gets up to (Advance warning: this may include references to wine, chocolate, Poldark and the hunky Aidan Turner) check out www.angelabritnellromance.com or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram as Angela Golley Britnell.
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