Sunday, 19 October 2014

Guest Book Review: Sue Watson - Snow Angels, Secrets & Christmas Cake

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

For Tamsin Angel, Christmas is always the biggest and best… chic parties and a little showbiz sparkle are a must. This year though, things aren’t going quite as planned…

With bailiffs suddenly at the door and her husband nowhere to be found, it looks like Christmas just got downsized. Moving into her sister’s flat, she wonders whether things will ever be the same again.

After losing her husband on Christmas Eve, Sam Angel has rebuilt her life around her son Jacob and her new business – The White Angel Bakery. She’s also found herself a very handsome, loving boyfriend, but is struggling to let go of the past.

Thrown together with a sprinkle of Christmas magic, Sam and Tamsin might just learn a little more about each other – and themselves. But when disaster strikes at the bakery, will they be able to save the day in time for Christmas? 

Amazon links: Kindle or Paperback

Snow Angels, Secrets & Christmas Cake has the double honour of being the first book I have read by Sue Watson and also my first Christmas read of 2014. With a gorgeous cover guaranteed to get you in the festive mood (well if that doesn’t the mouth-watering descriptions of cupcakes and baking in Sam’s White Angel Bakery certainly will) this book is a delight, perfect for curling up with a glass of wine and a bar of chocolate or cupcake in hand. This was a fabulous, humorous, easy read which I devoured in two sittings.

Each chapter is told from Sam or Tamsin’s viewpoint – sisters who are both experiencing trying times. Normally I don’t mind reading alternate chapters from different characters but in the first half of the book this was very annoying. It was frustrating to read the same events at the beginning of each chapter, there was too much overlapping when there was no need the story just needed to keep moving on. Fortunately this resolved itself after several chapters and from then on I felt the story flowed nicely in the rush up to Christmas as we read about all the anxieties and issues the two characters were experiencing.

From reading the opening chapter I really didn’t want to like Tamsin because at first she appeared to me to be the rich trophy wife who had it all and splurged cash on whatever took her fancy. Her unrelenting attention to detail in relation to Christmas seemed so obsessive as if she had nothing else in her life now that her children were grown up and at university. But appearances are very deceptive and as this gem of a story teaches us don’t always judge a book by its cover as there are layers of feelings and emotions hiding beneath the surface. Tamsin’s life is thrown into disarray when bailiffs arrive at the door and give her two weeks to move out of her house leaving her Christmas plans in chaos and with barely any money to her name. In steps her ever caring, dependent sister Sam who would not see poor Tamsin left on the streets at this time of year.

Sam herself is not without her concerns or worries. Having lost her husband six years previously she is a single mother raising her son Jacob whilst trying to run the White Angel Bakery and make it a success to secure her and Jacob’s future. Sam has a secret relationship with Richard (a parent she met at the school gates) but she fears moving forward and is torn in all directions between her sister, son and partner when all she wants is the best for everyone. But does this have to come at the expense of her own personal happiness? Sam is so admirable as she helps Tamsin in her hour of need demonstrating the unbreakable bond of sisters and how they are always there for each other no matter how difficult the situation. I felt Sam’s story wasn’t as developed as the Tamsin plotline they are both concealing scars from the past but Tamsin seemed to be the stronger person and at times I felt Sam was a bit too down for no reason and the thing with not cutting her sons hair was a bit over the top even though we knew why she was doing it.

It may sound like a cliché but this is definitely a book where you can see a character completely change and transform their lives for the better. As I said previously I didn’t want to like Tamsin but her complete turnaround happened before our very eyes and I think by the end I liked her even more than dependable old Sam. After the disaster at the bakery Tamsin performs such a caring act it totally changed my opinion of her. Yes, she had been betrayed by her husband due to his inability to run his company properly and also his philandering ways but Tamsin copes well and is determined to make a better life for herself and for her family. As we keep turning the pages we find out what made Tamsin so obsessed in achieving perfection in every aspect of her life and it was sad to discover what led her to be like this. Slowly but surely she learns to have fun and realise it’s the simple things in life that count. 

I almost forgot to mention two people Mrs. J ( housekeeper/ all around helper/friend of Tamsin) who provided plenty of laugh out loud moments with her wit and sharp comebacks to anyone who dared cross her. Also Gabe – handyman extraordinaire. I think everyone would like Gabe in their lives he seemed so strong, solid and dependable and given the festive setting of this book he appeared to be the perfect companion to curl up with on the couch on cold winter nights. 

Overall, an easy, enjoyable read with characters that will grow in your affections and leave you with a warm feeling inside. This book is full of love, laughter and people who grow in strength as the book progresses and ultimately realise don’t keep your problems to yourself ask for help as there is always someone there to support you through the good times and bad. If this is the taste of what’s to come in Christmas books this year I can’t wait for November to roll around so I can start my festive themed reading in earnest. Can we just skip Halloween and head straight to Christmas?

Many thanks to Kim from Bookouture for sending me this to review and to Sharon for having the review on the blog.

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