Publisher: Sapere Books
Release Date: November 24th, 2021
Rating: 2/5 Stars
Single mum Beth moves her ‘boutique’ business into a converted stable on the Trenouth Estate. Tristan – the owner of the estate – does nothing but make her angry whenever their paths meet. But of course, this is a Christmas festive romance, so we kind of know what to expect – the estate is in trouble, Tristan has events to plan, and things go wrong, forcing him to seek help from Beth. The pair have to put their differences aside to work together.
Beth was forced out of her home when she fell pregnant with her son, and she lives with her brother who, quite frankly, does so much for them both! I like seeing more unusual family setups in Romance, but there were so many points where it felt like Beth was taking advantage. Like I said above, we kind of know what to expect with this sort of book, but having picked up a few festive Romances and learning what I like from them, I was fully ready to fall in love with the characters and plot.
Reader, I did not.
Beth’s son gets pushed on anyone who can have him, and it feels like we don’t really get to see much of those two interacting with one another. I found myself questioning what a ‘boutique’ was throughout – I admit, I’m not a fashion person, but a lot of what she was doing seemed more like Avon for clothes than a boutique? I also wondered how Beth and her brother had managed to live so close to the estate and community as a whole and not actually know anything about it all? Maybe it’s just me, but a lot of what happened and the way the plot progressed either felt forced or just a touch too easy.
There were…so many times when Beth starts by saying “I don’t regret having my son…” then expresses that actually, she does. Like other instances I’ve seen before, the author could have gone a bit deeper into how Beth felt and had some nuance to it, but everything is done in such a surface way we don’t really get that and it comes across perhaps as it’s not quite meant to.
I did like the community aspect, and I do like when two characters meet and the one character is kind of gently led into the community, increasing their own support network and giving a sense of belonging they may not have had at the start, and this aspect was done quite well and was sweet, as Beth almost emerges into the world following a period of self-enforced isolation. There were some sweet scenes, but overall I think there are plenty of others who will get much more from this book than I did.
Thank you to Sapere for providing a copy of this book via NetGalley. Views remain my own.