When Natasha and Rob take a holiday to rekindle their failing marriage, they accidentally leave their infant daughters beloved toy cow behind. Back in the Cotsolds, Natasha goes online to try and track it down, and a man called Duffy just happens to have it. But he’s on his way to the Himalayas. Duffy promises to send pictures of the toy in locations on his trip, and soon Natasha and Duffy are enjoying their correspondence more than they expected. And do they already have a connection?
I always like to read a Christmas themed book with a cute cover and a happy ending around this time of year, and this was one that I saw that looked like a lot of fun. Karen Swan usually writes two books a year, releasing one in the Summer and one around Christmas. They’re real door stopper, beach read type books, with great locations and some drama and romance, but I like that they’re not too light and fluffy. I’ve read one of her previous books, The Hidden Beach, which I quite enjoyed.
This book isn’t super Christmassy, but it was festive enough to satisfy my craving for an end of year romantic fun read. I do watch a lot of Christmas movies and things around this time of year, so I didn’t need this one to be all about Christmas. I like that Karen Swan creates a really recognisable cast of characters. You won’t get them confused with each other, and they all add a little something to the story. Natasha has a cast of friends who are all quite different from her and help us see her a little the way others do, and since shes close to them, we get to see her warmth and friendly side. I didn’t like the character of the love interest much. Without giving anything away, he’s pretty self righteous and pushy, but he was still a well written character with his own story.
What was slightly confusing was that the book is written sometimes from Natasha’s perspective, sometimes from Duffy’s, and then there were scenes in the past, so it’s jumping around a little bit. The author uses this to show us that Natasha may really belong with this cute guy Tom that she met on her hen’s weekend, and that something wasn’t quite right with Rob from the start… which is good foreshadowing, but a little hard on the flow for the reader, maybe. The book is a little slow to start, but only a little. I find Swan’s books quite easy to get into and I liked Natasha, and then we get to some pretty fun drama and twists and turns. If it all feels a little unlikely, (for example, early on in the book no less than Harry Styles is convinced to share a post about the missing toy) that’s ok with me. It’s that kind of story.
Karen Swan is a really reliable author for books like this that are romantic reads, beach or holiday reads, but that aren’t straight romance or too tropey or silly. Her characters often have complex lives or problems to overcome, which makes for a more compelling read. She always delivers a story that I can get into and have a little escapism, just enjoy the drama and foreign locales, and I’m glad that I got to read this one. If you’re looking for a cute but not too fluffy Christmas read this year, you will probably like this one.
Read It If: you made it through the year and are looking to treat yourself to an entertaining, cozy read. Plenty of drama here, but no stress.
Thank you to PGC Books for the ARC of this book for review.