Friday, 20 February 2015

Twelve Days of Christmas by Trisha Ashley

Twelve Days of Christmas (2010) (Avon)
Trisha Ashley
Grade: C
Genre: chick lit
Sex scenes: super mild
Source: own
Lancashire: (1) Sweet Nothings, (2) A Winter's Tale, (3) Wedding Tiers, (4) Chocolate Wishes, (5) Twelve Days of Christmas
TBR RBC 2015: Free Square 

Brought up by her Strange Baptist grandmother, Holly didn’t celebrate Christmas in its modern, commercial sense until she married her husband, Alan. When he died in a tragic accident not long before the festive holidays, Holly reverted to her old ways. Now, she’s a chef in the summer months, catering for week-long house parties, and a house sitter in the winter, choosing to spend her holidays in solitude caring for other peoples’ houses instead of forcing a smile with her family-in-law. This Christmas, Holly is faced with just that depressing prospect until a last-minute house-sitting job falls in her lap. But what starts as a straightforward task in looking after a house and its resident dog, horse and goat, turns into a fully-fledged family-orientated house party with its requisite unwanted guests alongside the bosom of the family as Holly takes on the responsibility for catering to a family she barely knows, but quickly comes to love as her own …

Another book, this time only on my shelves for a mere 3 years, that is long overdue. I’ve never really seen the attraction of seasonal books like this one and as far as I’m aware, this is the first I’ve ever read. that said, there’s definitely demand for the sub-genre during a short window of the year and so they obviously tick some readers boxes – just not me.

This is a doubly sad Christmas for Holly because she’s just lost her grandmother and is still in the process of going through her things. Taking a trunk of old diaries on the job with her, Holly finds out about her grandmother’s life during the war as a nurse and a secret admirer who has stayed a secret for the last sixty years. This is an element of her grandmother’s life that Holly has never glimpsed and an opportunity to connect despite her recent passing. It was way too coincidental for my liking, but the way that the story was threaded through Holly’s showed just what she missed out on as she was growing up, and the Martland family are only too happy to welcome her with open arms.

Hilariously, Holly and Jude, the house’s owner, get off on the wrong foot from the word ‘go’. Jude is away for Christmas, shattering the family’s usual gathering to the devastation of all. As she’s a last minute step-in, Jude is naturally worried about the wellbeing of his animals and doubts Holly’s abilities at every opportunity. A real Scrooge, it’s wonderful to watch Holly and Jude spar over the phone and eventually in person when he comes to his senses and returns home just in time for Christmas. This was probably my favourite element of the book.

Twelve Days of Christmas was funny in places and outrageous in others, making it a fun read but not one I’ll repeat. I found it difficult to relate to the characters and the story plodded along at a snail’s pace – the book could really have done with several thousand words less. Ditto with the liberal use of exclamation marks. Until I read this, I thought I used exclamation marks too much – I’m practically Spartan! It was off-putting, unnecessary and really didn’t endear me to Holly – a real shame.

Image courtesy of Fantastic Fiction.

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