20 December 2016

Book Review: A Winter Affair by Minna Howard

"With a recent divorce and empty nest Eloise Brandon is facing Christmas alone until a harried phone call from her godfather changes everything. 

Accepting his challenge, Eloise finds herself en-route to Verbier and to her godfathers chalet in the beautiful Swiss Alps to help cater for some seriously rich, high rolling guests. 

What ensues makes it a Christmas to remember. A heady alpine mixture of old friends, ex-husbands, mega-rich, super demanding guests, a dishevelled proprietor and Bert the dog."

Rating: 4/5

You can buy the book now.

I stumbled across this eBook whilst browsing Netgalley one day, and thought it looked like a great Christmas type read, full of snow, romance and a lovely setting to boot. I hadn't read anything by Minna Howard before, so went into this without any preconceptions. I did enjoy the story, there was lots going on, and although I found it lacked pace in parts, I found the story charming, and will definitely be looking out for more from Minna Howard.

Eloise isn't exactly thrilled at spending the festive season on her own, now her marriage has ended and her teenage twins are off exploring the world together, keen to get their own experiences. So, when she is offered the opportunity to work as a chef to help out an old family friend for the Christmas period, in Verbier no less, she jumps at the chance. She isn't sure that her old friend realises she isn't exactly a qualified chef, but sets her mind to making the best food that she can for her discerning customers. With the glorious Swiss Alps, skiing, old friends and cooking up a storm, what could possibly go wrong for Eloise?

Although I haven't been lucky enough to visit Verbier, or anywhere in the Alps to be honest, I feel like I know a little bit about it as I have read quite a few books set there in my time. It sounds glorious, and I could see why Eloise would be pleased to go back there, even if there are some memories there that might evoke a few emotions within her. Howard writes Verbier beautifully - it sounds idyllic, with its snow covered cabins, pistes, shops and people everywhere, looking forward to embracing everything that the resort has to offer. I enjoyed being there whilst I was reading, and felt Howard did an excellent job of bringing the place to life.

Eloise was a great leading lady, I felt quite a few people reading this might be able to relate to her and her situation - suddenly on her own at a time in her life she thought things would probably slow down and she could enjoy her marriage once more. I did feel sorry for her, contemplating spending Christmas alone, with her children, but was pleased she was offered a better opportunity. The other characters in the book were great too, I especially liked the owner of the chalet Jacaranda, called Lawrence - he seemed quite uptight and a bit abrupt but I hoped that Eloise would be able to calm him down and coax a friendship of sorts out of him. Lawrence's son was also a great addition to the book, and I enjoyed the relationship he had with Eloise.

My only niggle about this book was that I felt it dragged in parts for me. It became a little too bogged down in description, and I wanted the action to move on a bit, to find something to get my interest going again as I felt parts of it lingered too long where not enough was going on. There was a bit of a drama involving some of the guests, but I couldn't bring myself to care that much about them - they seemed quite rich, snobby and frankly, quite rude to Eloise so I couldn't muster up much sympathy. All of a sudden though, things picked up and hurtled towards a finish - I'd have preferred it to be a little quicker throughout the book and perhaps slow down a little more towards the end!

Overall, though, this was a very enjoyable festive read, and it's great if you want to read something that'll help you escape, even if just for a short while. Sit back, relax and transport yourself away to the snowy slopes of Verbier, and read about Eloise working her socks off this Christmas! Enjoyable, and recommended.

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