16 December 2013

Book Review: Christmas at Carrington's by Alexandra Brown

"Carrington’s Department store is thrown into a spin when the staff learn that a hot new reality TV show is to be filmed in-store, featuring the formidable retail guru, Kelly Cooper. Georgie Hart, in charge of Luxury Handbags, is reluctant, but quickly realises that the show could give Carrington’s a new lease of life. With Christmas around the corner, she’s also hoping that the season will deliver her the perfect Christmas present, in the form of Tom, the store’s dishy boss.

When the film crew arrive, things start to go wrong. One of Tom’s old flames, Zara, is working on the show and then, to top things off, Tom and Zara are sent off to Paris and New York for a spot of extra filming. When Georgie settles down in front of the box to watch the first show, worse it to come – Georgie is shown in a far from flattering light and she is horrified to learn what Tom has been up to.

Georgie fears this is turning out to be the worst Christmas ever, but Santa might have a got a little surprise in store for her stocking this year – but she’ll just have to wait until Christmas to find out!"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Christmas at Carrington's as a paperback or an eBook now.

Alexandra Brown's second is a follow-up to her first, Cupcakes at Carrington's, which was released earlier this year. I was really pleased that this is going to be a series because I really enjoyed the first book, and there is something nice about a series, knowing that when you pick up the book it'll contain familiar characters, people that you know and you don't have to spend too long getting to know new characters. This book picks up shortly after the first one, with Georgie still working at her beloved Carrington's department store, with Christmas fast approaching. It's a fun second outing from Alexandra Brown, and while I didn't think it was better than the first book, it was still a lovely festive read.

Georgie still loves her job at Carrington's department store where she has worked alongside her friends for years. It's even better now that she's dating the boss, Tom, although of course she didn't know that when she first met him. Christmas is fast approaching at the store, and Georgie is shocked when Carrington's signs up to be a part of a new reality show, hosted by TV personality Kelly Cooper. Georgie isn't prepared for what lies ahead, and is surprised to find herself as a big star of the show, especially when she isn't shown in the best light. Georgie is also surprised to find a new side to Tom when the reality show starts as well, and she starts questioning whether he is indeed the man he led her to believe he is. Will Georgie be able to make everything right in time for Christmas, or is she in for her worst festive season ever?

The addition of the reality show element was different, and certainly made for some interesting reading. I will be honest and say that parts of it did get annoying for me. I found that Georgie was a little bit naive about the show, and the effect it has on her character was that she becomes a little bit obsessed with her image and looking good, which is totally unlike any Georgie we have met before, and I didn't really like the change. It also stops the natural aspect of the department store that I loved before too which was a shame. I dislike designer name-dropping in books (just a personal thing!) and there was a lot of that in here. I can't say that the characters of Kelly and her awful daughter were worthy additions to the book either, I really couldn't stand either and found myself flicking through their scenes just to get away from them! It was a fun idea for the book, but I just wasn't overly keen on it, some bits just seemed a bit too silly for me.

However, I did love the preparations for Christmas at the store, and I really did hope that Tom and Georgie would have a happy ending together, despite the strange goings-on within the book. I really loved the story involving Sam, the owner of the cupcake store within the shop in this book, it was very emotional and tough to read in parts but it was very well handled by Brown, and it added a more sombre tone to an otherwise quite fluffy read. I thought Georgie's character handled things incredibly well too, I wasn't expecting to find this storyline in this book, but it worked well and I have to compliment Brown's writing for how she handled it. The friendship between the two women is so wonderfully written, and so real that it was a joy to read, and I hope for more of this in the further books in the series.

As in the previous book, I loved the descriptions of the department store. There are quite a few changes to it thanks to the reality show, but the heart of it remains the same, with its talented and lovely staff, and it sounds like a great place to go and shop, especially at Christmastime. This, together with the character of Georgie, are what reading this book is all about, it's one to get lost in. Perhaps the only thing lacking in this book was a real romance storyline. Georgie spends nearly the entire book away from Tom, the man she loves, and nothing very much seems to happen involving the pair up until right at the end, when it felt a bit rushed. I would have loved to see Tom back in there a bit earlier for a more romantic feel to the book. The book stealer though was definitely Sam and Georgie - a wonderfully written friendship and storyline. For those who loved Cupcakes at Carrington's, you'll certainly want to pick up a copy of the second book in the series, but do be prepared for something completely different! A fun festive read that has you laughing and crying along.

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