Wednesday 19 February 2014

Guest Review: Christmas At Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman

Today I have a treat of a guest review for you, although this is a Christmas review, it s a book that works well at any time of year, thank so much to my guest reviewer for this one! 

When Juliet Hill unwittingly discovers a most-definitely-not-hers-rhinestone-studded lace thong in her high-flying lawyer boyfriend’s apartment, this usually feisty chef is suddenly single and facing a very blue Christmas – with only a ready meal for one to keep her company!
So when she’s personally requested to cater for the family at Thornton Hall three days before Christmas, it’s not long before Juliet’s standing at the (back) door of the Earl of Gloucester’s impossibly grand ancestral pile.
The halls are decked, the guests are titled, those below the stairs are delightfully catty, and all-American Juliet sets to work cooking up a glorious British Christmas with all the trimmings.
But other flames are burning besides those on the stove… Sparks fly with Edward, the gorgeous ex-soldier turned resident chef, and are those sidelong looks Juliet’s getting from her boss, the American tycoon Jasper Roth?
As the snow starts to fall on the idyllic Cotswolds countryside, so does the veneer of genteel high society and there are more than a few ancient skeletons rattling out of the Hall’s numerous dark cupboards!

Being a big fan of Christmas-based stories and films, I was particularly looking forward to reading this debut novel by Lynn Marie Hulsman. It tells the story of Juliet, an American chef who takes a job at the last minute catering for a Christmas house party at Thornton Hall, an English country house. We meet a host of characters representing residents, staff and guests, some of whom are entertaining, and others downright annoying.
It took me a while to get into this story, principally because I felt like I had walked into a party where everybody knew one another and the history of what had transpired between them in earlier times. Gradually, things became clear through a series of flashbacks, but it was hard going for a while. I found this style of writing rather distracting, but persevered and eventually got hooked into the story.
There was quite a bit of humour in the tale, particularly in the interactions among the staff members at the hall. However, at times the story line seemed unnecessarily complicated. In places, we were led down side roads that just petered out. The cast of characters was almost too large, and the story was sometimes cluttered by events involving minor players.  However, there was bags of romance as well, as Juliet seemed to have men falling over themselves to win her. We were kept guessingpractically to the end as to which one she would eventually choose.
I don’t think that Christmas at Thornton Hall is a book that I will want to read again and again, but it is an entertaining tale for anyone looking for a festive romance.

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