If you haven’t read any of Heidi Swain’s books before, Sleigh Rides And Silver Bells At The Christmas Fair is the perfect place to start but if you’re already a fan, I predict it will quickly become your new favourite.
As I was reading, it reminded me of something but for ages I couldn’t quite put my finger on what that was – and then it came to me, Jane Eyre.
Not so much the plot – although there are some similarities. Thankfully there’s no Bertha Mason in the attic, although there is something surprising up there, but the two main characters do come of age in one way and the heroine, Anna, is all on her own.
However, it was more Anna’s voice. She seems quite uptight and authoritative but underneath there’s a layer of vulnerability that I instantly warmed to.
Here’s the blurb:
When Anna takes on the role of companion to the owner of Wynthorpe Hall, on the outskirts of Wynbridge, she has no idea that her life is set to change beyond all recognition.
A confirmed ‘bah humbug’ when it comes to Christmas, Anna is amazed to find herself quickly immersed in the eccentric household, and when youngest son Jamie unexpectedly arrives home it soon becomes obvious that her personal feelings are going all out to compromise her professional persona.
Jamie, struggling to come to terms with life back in the Fens, makes a pact with Anna – she has to teach him to fall back in love with Wynthorpe Hall, while he helps her fall back in love with Christmas. But will it all prove too much for Anna, or can the family of Wynthorpe Hall warm her heart once and for all…?
It’s lovely to see the relationship between Anna and the hero, Jamie, unfold. Their chemistry is evident from the start but there are all sorts of things that stand in the way, not least that he is her employers’ son and she has a rule about mixing business with pleasure.
The supporting cast are fabulous and only added to my enjoyment. I loved learning the back stories of various family/employees as well as the healing magic that seems to happen at the hall.
The fictional town of Wynbridge is the backbone of Heidi’s books and while Wynthorpe Hall is out in the sticks, Anna makes multiple visits and it seems especially lovely at Christmas time (some of the stars of previous books also make welcome cameos). She even takes a trip into Norwich and, maybe it’s because I’m a local, but it made me smile to read about a place I had visited earlier in the day.
In fact, the only bad thing about this book is that I raced through it and it was over too quickly.
My rating: Five stars.
If you’re interested, you can find out more about Heidi from my Behind The Book interview here.