29 January 2014

eBook Review: Christmas at Thornton Hall by Lynn Marie Hulsman

"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!"

Rating: 4/5

You can buy Christmas at Thornton Hall as an eBook now.

As you know, I'm a huge lover of Christmas books, and when I found out that Harper Impulse were publishing another debut festive novel by new author Lynn Marie Hulsman, I was so excited to read it. I'm not at all a fan of Downton Abbey or anything like that, but hoped that this wouldn't matter and that I'd enjoy it anyway. I loved the cover that Harper Impulse had given the book, I love that they give their eBooks great covers, they are still important, even for eBooks in my opinion. I did enjoy this book a lot, it was a fun book to read at Christmas, and it makes me look forward to more from this debut author.

Juliet Hill is a chef, and she loves her job - she's pretty good at it too. She finds herself at Thornton Hall at Christmas, working for her boss, American tycoon Jasper Roth who is seems is after more that just Juliet's cooking. However, Juliet realises there is a lot of chemistry between her and her fellow chef Edward, but things don't end up going to plan there. Even so, Juliet is quite looking forward to a traditional British Christmas, cooking for lots of guests and the hall and having fun with her fellow staff. As more guests appear at Thornton Hall, the comings and goings start to get far more interesting, and soon Juliet wonders what other secrets are being hid in these ancient walls!

First of all, the character of Juliet was fun to read about. Her reactions when she found out her boyfriend was cheating on her were very funny, but when she arrived at Thornton Hall, she did change. She became more serious, a little more introverted, perhaps because of the many other characters around her, but I missed her bubbliness and the comedy that she had in the first part of the book. Her friendship with her fellow chef Edward is interesting to read, I was hoping that the pair would just get on with it and get together since they clearly had a great chemistry together, but of course, things aren't that easy. I want to mention another storyline involving some of the secondary characters, Rose and her husband Seamus. Their storyline was handled beautifully, it was very sensitives to the issues within, and it really struck me that Hulsman had done her research here, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading this part of the book.

One thing that I did struggle with in the book was the sheer amount of characters. The start was okay, just Juliet, her boyfriend and her best friend making an appearance. However, once she arrived at Thornton Hall there was a sudden influx of characters and I struggled to keep up with who was who, especially with all the differing titles and nicknames. I found myself flicking back a few times to see who was who, just to remind myself because there were a few people I just could not get my head around. There was always a lot going on in the book too, lots of love triangles going on, dramatic twists and turns and I found that I really had to concentrate as I was reading, or I would end up getting lost! It certainly keeps you interested because you want to find out what is going to happen next, but at the same time, it wasn't something I could flick in and out of, I had to sit down and properly read it.

Thornton Hall itself sounds really lovely, like a proper old stately home. Hulsman writes it really well, from the house itself to the grounds, and the cold Christmas weather outside as well. It all comes together to give a real festive feeling to the book, and it is a great one to read during the Christmas season. Apart from having a few too many characters and rather a lot going on all at once, this was a very enjoyable read, and I did look forward to settling down with my kindle each night to read it. I laughed out loud in places, there were a good few twists and turns along the way, and Juliet does manage to get herself into some rather interesting situations. I loved the parts about Juliet's cooking too, the things she cooked sounded mouth-watering and utterly delicious. Everything was wrapped up neatly by the end, all the different story lines coming together to a satisfying close, and I was happy to have read it. A good debut novel that I really enjoyed, I look forward to more from Lynn Marie Hulsman.

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