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…
Delighted to be taking my turn on the blog tour for the new Christmas book by Mandy Baggot, One Christmas Star. My thanks to Vicky Joss at Aria for inviting me to take part, and for my digital copy of the book received via NetGalley, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
It’s no secret that I love a book by Mandy Baggot. Her writing is so approachable and comforting that I defy any fan of romantic fiction not to be charmed by her books.
That being said, this one stands out as being something particularly special. Much as I am a huge fan of romance novels and will fight to the (metaphorical) death its many ill-informed detractors, even I sometimes find Christmas romance books a little twee. Not this one. Despite the fact it contained all the usual elements readers expect to find in a book of this genre, this one felt a bit different. It really crept under my skin and into my heart and I was totally enchanted by it.
I have been trying to put my finger on exactly what it was about this book that made it particularly stand out. I thought it might be the central character of Emily, about whom I loved absolutely everything. She was fragile and vulnerable, but also brave and determined, as well as kind and considerate. We meet her as she has been through the mill and is dealing with a good many challenges, but still finds it in her heart to try and help people around her, for no reason other than it if the right thing to do. I think maybe I have made her sound a little sickly sweet, but that’s really not how she comes across in the book, she is not perfect but very down-to-earth and likeable.
Maybe it is the handsome heartthrob, singer Ray Stone, who has all the requisite attractions for a leading romance hero, but is oh so much more. Damaged and deeply vulnerable, he is the perfect foil for Emily and I defy any red-blooded woman not to fall in love with him. However, so far, so standard for a romance novel, so what made this one stand out?
The setting, in a wintry London in the approach to Christmas, is everything you would want and Mandy brings it to life beautifully. Emily’s job as a primary school teacher prepping the Christmas show gives us a cast of cute kiddies who provide comedy and drama and emotion in equal measure (fans of Nativity! will love this book). Emily’s parents are lively characters who create some cringe-worthy moments, and provide the perfect contrast to Ray’s more down-to-earth family. All of these elements add to the book’s appeal.
However, I think what made it extra special were the issues dealt with in the book. They are relevant, current and tricky dilemmas that are often shied away from in this genre of book, but which affect thousands of people on a daily basis and Mandy manages to weave them into the story with sensitivity, understanding and a lightness of touch that perfectly addresses the problems without making the tale too heavy for the genre but not making light of the seriousness of the issues either. It is skilful, truthful and moving and I was really impressed by how she achieves the balance.
Everything about this book comes together to make the perfect Christmas romance for people who want more than a fluffy read for the season, who are looking for a real story that will both move and entertain. I applaud the result wholeheartedly, a really rewarding and satisfying read.
One Christmas Star is out now as an ebook and will be published in paperback on 14 November and you can buy a copy here.
Do check out the rest of the blogs on the tour as detailed below:
About the Author
Mandy Baggot is an international bestselling and award-winning romance writer. The winner of the Innovation in Romantic Fiction award at the UK’s Festival of Romance, her romantic comedy novel, One Wish in Manhattan, was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy Novel of the Year award in 2016. Mandy’s books have so far been translated into German, Italian, Czech and Hungarian. Mandy loves the Greek island of Corfu, white wine, country music and handbags. Also a singer, she has taken part in ITV1’s Who Dares Sings and The X-Factor. Mandy is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the Society of Authors and lives near Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK with her husband and two daughters.
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