Thursday 5 December 2019

Mini Reviews: Christmas At Frozen Falls & Coming Home to Glendale Hall

Two full-length festive novels, with gorgeously festive covers, to enjoy this holiday season!

*Review copy received via NetGalley*

Christmas magic can thaw the coldest of hearts…

Sylvie Magnusson is going to be lonely this Christmas. Instead of jetting off for her sunshine honeymoon, she’s freezing at home in Cheshire. Guess that’s what happens when your fiancé dumps you a week before your wedding…

Sylvie’s best friend, Nari, plans a trip to see the Northern Lights and get Sylvie’s mojo back. But as their Lapland getaway approaches, Sylvie realises that Frozen Falls is the hometown of Stellan Virtanen, her dreamy Finnish ex-boyfriend, the one that got away. Even though he actually ran away, and Sylvie never understood why…

Luckily, when they meet, Stellan’s still gorgeous – and her heart is warmed when he shows her the romantic delights of Lapland (as well as some seriously adorable Husky puppies). But when she returns to England can she really leave Stellan behind? Or will she find that her heart belongs in the frozen North?

Christmas at Frozen Falls is a sweet Christmas read about healing, friendship, and the one who got away.

Initially, I wasn't a fan of this book. It starts off months after the infamous 'dumping before the wedding' and even though I can understand Sylvie being devastated by the loss of the future she thought she'd have, I couldn't understand how she was still so broken when the evil-dumper, Cole, was a complete jackass and his mother sounds like the mother-in-law from the deepest darkest depths of hell! Sylvie dodged a massive bullet and I didn't feel she was grieving over the loss of her fiance so much as the loss of a fantasy future, if that makes sense? She was more upset about the dog - totally understandable - and it made her melodrama tedious.

But then, she and her best friend decide to head to Finnish Lapland for Christmas and this gets Sylvie thinking about the Finnish guy she loved back in Uni - Stellen - and you feel that connection, that loss, fresh and aching even though their relationship had ended fifteen years ago! Thus the story got more interesting and Sylvie got less annoying.

When the resort they go to happens to be Stellen's resort, you know what's going to happen (and let's face it, it's in the blurb) but it doesn't detract from the sweet, wonderful, journey of falling in love again with the one who got away.

It was so easy while reading this book to get swept off to snow-covered forests under a glowing sky... To smell the crisp coldness of the snow mixed with pine sap. To imagine yourself snuggled in a blanket with a cup of hot chocolate beside a roaring fire.
It was magical, especially with the romance bubbling along beside you.

The ending had me smiling and happy but a little unsatisfied if I'm honest. Stellen and Sylvie had a happy for now ending. A nice, teasing, promise of a beautiful future if they could make it work. For some, that would be enough but I'm the type of gal who, in those circumstances, needs a flipping epilogue reassuring me that everything does indeed end happily.
Let's face it, people don't read romance for a reality check! Give us a cast-iron happy ever after, dammit!

Regardless of my minor grumbles, I recommend it if you want a mental trip to Lapland this year to play in the snow and play with some husky dogs!

*Review copy received via NetGalley*

No matter how far you go, home is where the heart is...

Beth Williams hasn’t been home for ten years. After falling pregnant at sixteen, she ran away from the imposing Scottish estate where she grew up rather than risk her family’s disapproval, working hard to build a life for herself and daughter Isabelle - but now she’s finally returning to Glendale Hall.

As Beth tries to mend her broken family ties, and fights to bring the community of Glendale back together, she realises that the story she has told herself for a decade might well be a very different one from the truth. Even though she ran from Glendale it has never left her heart. And, she soon realises, neither has Drew – Beth’s first love.

Will Beth be able to forgive her mother and grandmother (and herself) for what happened ten years ago? What will Drew say when he discovers the secret she’s been keeping from him for so long? Can a festive trail bring the village back together?

Will Christmas work its magic on Glendale - or will Beth be forced to run away from it all over again?

Coming Home to Glendale Hall was another slow starter but once it got going I thoroughly enjoyed it. It's a family driven story packed full of festive goodness, healing and forgiveness.
There is a second chance romance that wasn't as straight forward as I was anticipating (bit of a love-triangle) but it felt like it was secondary to the family and community driven elements of the book.
It was a surprisingly emotional and uplifting read packed full of the magic of Christmas.

The characters were likeable and relatable, even the ones who were doing, or had done, things that weren't so nice.
The setting was beautiful... Glendale Hall felt like a character in itself, although the regularity of snow was a little bit unrealistic even for the Scottish Highlands! But it gave the story an extra sprinkling of magic so I can't complain too much.

I guess the thing that irked me about the story was the pseudo-love triangle and the constant repetition of things we already knew.
Not to mention the fact that the entire plot would have fallen apart if the parents of the 16-year-old (who ran away to London to have a baby all alone!) had just a long and honest conversation with their daughter at some point over the course of the 10 years she was gone!
But hey ho.
Minor irks do not take away from the fact that this was a lovely read that gave me all the festive feels.


  1. I love both of these covers. With the first one, I would probably find the grieving bit annoying since it really does sound like the ex was a total ass. But like you said, she was probably letting go of hoped she’d hoped for... not how things really were. And sometimes predictable is A-OK. :)

    I like the sound of the plot even better in the second book. I do get frustrated when a conflict could be solved with one simple conversation... but instead drags on for ages. Gah! Even so, I really do like the sound of Beth returning home and making amends.

  2. I think the first book really appeals to me - I just love second chance romances! And I don't know that her grieving would bother me as much. It might, but missing the dog I get lol :)

    Great reviews!

  3. Such festive covers. They make me want to curl up with a hot cocoa and read.

    Karen @ For What It's worth

  4. I think it's good we acknowledge, that we don't read romance for a reality check. I have way too much reality in my life for it to infiltrate my fictional worlds. I love a good heartwarming romance, and both of these sound like they would charm the pants off of me

  5. I also want iron clad happy endings! Honestly I know most people are like the first couple but you’re right this is a romance novel! We don’t want reality.

  6. Both sound like great cozy reads. I enjoyed your honesty and realism in the reviews as well. And I totally agree... we don't read books for a reality check!

    Chanzie @ Free To Be Me

  7. I read a lot of pnr...definitely not reading that for a reality check. lol But I definitely want that HEA.

  8. I like the mini review thing and I am trying to get better at it. I have a tendency to go on forever once I get going and it is a goal for me in 2020 to become better at the minis.

  9. Mini Reviews are a great resource for writing book reviews! I'm making good use of them this year!

  10. Both sound like a wonderful setting and I love those kinds of stories that put in the mood to read by the fire with a glass of wine or hot cocoa. I'm not a fan of the happy-for-now either. I want that solid HEA so I can understand why that'd be a bit of a disappointment. Glad to hear you enjoyed both stories even with some niggles. :)


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