Thursday, 3 December 2020

Guest Review: Christmas for Beginners by Carole Matthews

IT'S THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR . . .

Christmas is fast approaching at the new Hope Farm. Owner Molly Baker has been convinced to organise an open day to raise some much-needed funds ahead of the New Year, but the nativity tableau is proving challenging. With anti-social sheep, awkward alpacas and a seriously sequined Santa Claus to assemble, Molly is feeling overwhelmed, and in desperate need of some Christmas spirit . . .

Despite the chaos of the farm getting in the way of her event planning, Molly is looking forward to spending the holidays with boyfriend Shelby and his son, Lucas, hopeful that a happy family Christmas is exactly what they need to draw them all together. But while she is busy making plans on the farm, Shelby, it seems, has ideas of his own.

As the nativity draws near, the team are working hard to pull off a spectacular festive fete - and make sure the animals and humans remain on their best behaviour.

Will this Christmas be merry and bright... or is there more than one surprise in store for Molly and Hope Farm?

Review: This book is a sequel to Happiness for Beginners by the same author. I really enjoyed that book and was looking forward to reading this one, especially as it is set at Christmas. When reviewing a sequel, it is difficult not to give away spoilers for the previous story, but I’ll do my best. Safe to say that the same characters are present in this book, with a few interesting additions. This book must be a contender for most attractive and most Christmassy cover of the year. It just begs the beholder to pick up the book and read.

Once again, the story revolves around Molly Blake and her farm which is populated by abandoned or donated animals, some of whom have ‘interesting’ personalities. Molly opens her gates to children with problems of their own, sharing their care with a few others, including difficult teenager and budding poet Lucas Dacre. Lucas’s father, Shelby, is Molly’s partner, but, as an actor, is frequently absent from their lives. Christmas is going to be busier than ever for Molly this year, as she has been persuaded to run an open day on the farm with a festive theme to raise some much needed cash. With Shelby away pursuing his acting career, the local mayor, Matt, steps up to help with the event. He is interested in the farm in general and helping in any way he can. Predictably, organising the open day throws up problems along the way, from both humans and animals, and Molly has to cope with some really serious issues. She wonders if the event will ever come together, and, as Christmas approaches, what the future holds for her with father and son Shelby and Lucas.

This is a lovely, cosy Christmas read, with a nice mix of drama, romance, comedy and animal antics. You wouldn’t need to read the previous book in the series to make sense of this one, but I was glad that I had; together they make a lovely set. It was good to see Molly coping a little better with her farm and life outside it. Nice also that Lucas was still on the scene, but he was really difficult to deal with on his off days; I was impressed by Molly’s patience in dealing with him. The reader is treated to a selection of his poems at appropriate times throughout the book. My dislike of Shelby from the last book grew even more here. Poor Molly has a difficult time playing referee when Shelby and Lucas meet up. I was glad to see another, more suitable, man turning up in Molly’s life. I think this heartwarming book would make an ideal Christmas present to another reader (or even to yourself).

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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