5 December 2015
Book Review: Never Kiss A Man in a Christmas Jumper by Debbie Johnson
For single mum Maggie, Christmas has always been a family occasion – her daughter Ellen filling the house with her bubbly warmth and mistletoe, her dad Paddy having one too many festive tipples, and the traditional family Christmas tree looking like a drunken elf vomited a rainbow all over it.
But this year, with both Ellen and Paddy away for the holidays, Maggie’s facing a truly blue Christmas – alone with nothing but a bottle of Baileys and an M&S turkey dinner.
Until walking the snowy streets of Oxford, Marco Cavelli quite literally crashes into her life – and, complete with broken leg, becomes her unexpected houseguest. All dreamy brown eyes and 6’5” of gorgeousness, the man is hotter and more delicious than a freshly baked mince pie.
Though Maggie always thought it’s a truth universally acknowledged that you never kiss a man in a Christmas jumper?"
I was super excited to receive a review copy of Debbie Johnson's fabulous new Christmas novel, simply because I absolutely adored the title and the cover of the book! I couldn't wait to find out more about the man in a Christmas jumper, and see just how festive the book was going to be overall. I read Debbie's debut book last Christmas, and whilst I enjoyed it, I was hoping for more festive feeling in this one. I had no idea when I began that it was a sort-of sequel to that book, so that was a nice surprise. I loved the book and couldn't put it down once I had begun, it was simply brilliant!
Maggie is a single mum, and has seemingly resigned herself to being alone for the near future, especially at Christmas. Her teenage daughter is ready to fly the nest this year, wanting to spend the festive season with her friends, and her father has booked a holiday away, something Maggie feels he deserves. So she keeps quiet, all set to be alone. But when she bumps into American Marco Cavelli on a bike and he ends up with a broken leg, Maggie feels a bit responsible, and ends up nursing him back to health in her small home. As the pair spend more time together, their friendship quickly hots up, but Maggie knows its going nowhere and is determined to keep her distance. After all, a man with such bad taste in Christmas jumpers can't be worth hanging on to, can he?
I didn't twig at first that the Marco in this book is the one we meet briefly in Debbie's first festive read, Cold Feet at Christmas. It wasn't until some other characters from that book start to put in an appearance that I realised how it was all linked, and I thought it was a really clever way of catching up with those characters, as well as bringing about a new story. Marco was the dreamiest character ever - thoughtful, handsome, funny - you can see why Maggie was somewhat taken by him! He seemed so lovely, and I loved that there wasn't really anything dislikeable him, he was just such a lovely guy, very family-orientated and kind-hearted.
Maggie was a great person to focus the story on. Her life has been a bit mundane up to now - she works making wedding dresses, and she's very skilled at her job. She's often invited to weddings to watch her bride's happy-ever-afters but never seems to find one of her own. In fact, some of the scenes at her wedding dress shop were so touching, Johnson perfectly describes the dresses and the skills involved, it was a lovely side story to the main one, and offered a more emotional side to the novel. She's a great mum to her teenager Ellen, but now she is growing up, Maggie is somewhat more alone than ever before. I liked how she befriended Marco so easily, the pair had a great chemistry, and I loved reading the scenes with the two of them together, they were so charming and always left me with a massive grin on my face.
The festive feeling in this book was lovely. It was set in the build-up to Christmas, and it felt festive all the way through. As it built towards the ending and Christmas day got nearer, so did the festive feeling, and I loved that part of the book. However, Johnson contrasts this happiness and joy with a more serious side to the book - Maggie is hiding her own sad secret which is holding her back in her love life, and there's a bit of a sad story involving one of her brides-to-be too, that left me with tears running down my face. But somehow it worked really well in the story, and all came together beautifully in a wonderful Christmas package! I loved every page of this book, and I can only hope we see more of Maggie and the Cavelli's in future books, they have fast become one of my favourite book families! This was a joy to read, and I'm excited for Debbie Johnson's next read!