‘This was where her dreams drifted to if she didn’t blot her nights out with drink; this was where her thoughts settled if she didn’t fill her days with chat. She remembered this tiny, remote foreign village on a molecular level and the sight of it soaked into her like water into sand, because this was where her old life had ended and her new one had begun.’
Portobello – home to the world-famous street market, Notting Hill Carnival and Clem Alderton. She’s the queen of the scene, the girl everyone wants to be or be with. But beneath the morning-after makeup, Clem is keeping a secret, and when she goes too far one reckless night she endangers everything – her home, her job and even her adored brother’s love.
Portofino – a place of wild beauty and old-school glamour, and where a neglected villa has been bought by a handsome stranger. He wants Clem to restore it for him and it seems like the answer to all her problems – except that Clem has been there once before and vowed, for her own protection, never to return...
Christmas at Claridge's by Karen Swan was one of the first 'Christmas' books I received back in October that gave me the idea of setting myself the Christmas reading challenge for December. Having read the blurb I knew not to expect a fluffy Christmas romance and having recently finished reading it I have to confess that it doesn't really fit into the challenge, other than it finishes at Claridge's at Christmastime, but I don't care as I enjoyed it regardless.
Clem is a twenty-something party girl who lives and works with her brother Tom but doesn't really seem to want to grow up and take responsibility for her life. When a spur-of-the-moment action threatens Tom's livelihood Clem has to do everything she can to pay him back and save the business. So when their business is offered an opportunity to renovate a villa in Portofino, Clem finds herself back in a place which holds a deeply hidden secret from many years ago...
At first I really couldn't get to grips with Clem as she was completely self-centered and didn't really seem to think about how her actions affected others. But as the story progressed, and you learned more about her history, she really grew on me and I was able to understand why she acts the way that she does.
I have to confess that the first half of the story didn't really grab me but I'm glad that I persevered with reading it because as soon as the story moved to Portofino I soon found myself hooked and not wanting to put the book down. Overall this was an interesting read with a few surprises which culminates in an emotional finish.
I'd like to thank Karen's publishers for sending me a proof copy of this book to review.