Review: All I Want for Christmas by Jenny Hale

Sunday, 16 October 2016
Title: All I Want for Christmas
Author: Jenny Hale
Publisher: Bookouture
Publication Date: 6th October 2016
Pages: 233
Source: Review Copy
Rating: 5/5
Purchase: Amazon
Snowflakes are falling, there’s carol singing on every corner, and Leah Evans is preparing for a family Christmas at her grandmother’s majestic plantation house in Virginia. It won’t be the same now that her beloved Nan is gone, but when Leah discovers she has inherited the mansion, she knows she can give her daughter Sadie the childhood of her dreams.

But there’s a catch. Leah must split the house with a man called David Forester. Leah hasn’t heard that name in a long time. Not since they were kids, when Davey was always there to catch her.

Now David is all grown up. He’s gorgeous, successful, and certain of one thing: Leah should sell him her half of the house.

They can’t agree, but as they share memories over wine by the log fire, Leah notices a fluttering in her stomach. And by the look in his eyes, he’s starting to feel it too.

Will it be Leah or David who must give up their dreams? Or, with a little bit of Christmas magic, will they finally understand Nan’s advice to them both about living life without regrets … and take a chance on true love?

This review contains some mild spoilers.

I have wanted to read Jenny Hale's books for the longest time and it made sense to start with her latest Christmas release now that they are starting to arrive! I am happy to report that the festive rating for this book is high, and that means that it does contain a Christmassy and festive story and that it isn't just your everyday chick lit book packaged with a nice Christmas cover and title just to cash in on this time of year (I do deduct ratings for authors and publishers that do this). It also contains so much more than that but you'll have to read the book to find out just what that is. I finished All I Want for Christmas kicking myself at not having read Jenny Hale's books sooner, this one contained the most heartwarmingly lovely story and I think it'll be hard to find a Christmas book to beat it this year (and this is only my second one of the year so far). I am now hoping to read Jenny's other Christmas books before the big day arrives this year.

All I Want for Christmas tells the story of Leah Evans who is preparing for the countdown to Christmas, and her first without her beloved Nan. She sees her Christmas being spent at her grandmother's plantation house (where I too would now like to spend my Christmas) and whilst it obviously won't be the same without her grandmother, she's determined to make it a good one for her daughter, Sadie. It seems her grandmother had other plans however and has not only left the plantation to Leah, but she has also left half of it to a man named David Forester, whose family owned the home previously. Why would her grandmother do this? And how is Leah going to deal with his demands that she sell her half of the house to him? I think we know where the story is ultimately going to lead but let me tell you it's a brilliant journey getting there.

My grandad sadly passed away in July and not long into this book I felt real and genuine emotion for Leah like I really knew her. Her love for her grandmother shone through as I was reading this book and when she was reliving her precious memories and reading letters from her grandmother, I had actual tears in my eyes. I have been dreading Christmas this year because every single Christmas for my whole life has been spent with my grandparents and my mum, dad and, when he was born, my brother and this year will be our first without my grandad. I really want to thank Jenny for taking me on this journey with Leah. Our stories and situations are wholly different, but what this story did teach me was that perhaps it is possible to enjoy Christmas this year, my grandad wouldn't want us to sit around and not celebrate it as we normally do and his presence will be felt as it is everyday because he was such a huge part of my life. This is a story that I will remember for a long time because of that and the scenes where Leah reflects about her grandmother, what she taught her and the memories they made were just so beautiful and have reminded me of the past few months where, despite a lot of grief and mixed emotions, it is those memories and reflections about my grandad that has helped us get through these past few months.

Leah is an incredibly likeable character and one that every single reader will love. Her relationship with Sadie is just a joy to read, and she has a fabulous circle of friends who all have their own stories to tell. The relationship with David for some might feel a little rushed, but a love story set at Christmas is just the most magical thing to read about and I just couldn't get enough of it. My favourite scenes were those set around Christmas, and were perhaps the ones that really made me believe that I can enjoy Christmas this year. I especially loved reading about Leah's grandmother who, despite her passing, is a massive part of the story and we learn so much about her (as too does Leah as it turns out she had a couple of secrets). There's one quote from her grandmother that will remain with me and it is this: Support one another and spend time together, because at the end, that's all you'll have to take with you - the love. Love each other and everything else will fall into place. At my grandad's funeral a poem he wrote was read out, and reading that quote from Leah's grandmother reminded me of one from my grandad's poem: During my life I've always believed in fate, I never had time for greed or hate, So when I've gone please stick together, And keep me in your heart forever. Jenny Hale has captured the true essence in All I Want for Christmas of not only Christmas itself and what it truly means, but of love and family and friendship too and this to me will be an unforgettable story and one that I will return to year after year. Just a really, really beautiful story with an ending I just loved.

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