When Jo’s friend Andi asks if she’ll stand in to cook Christmas lunch for her employer, Jo reluctantly agrees. She knows Andi will lose her job if she doesn’t, and wants to help out her friend.
Jo is nervous because Andi’s boss is a well-known celebrity diva, who outright refuses to have anyone but Andi cook for her. But she also insists Andi wears full chef's whites so the girls think they’ll get away with it … it’s the perfect Christmas disguise.
But when Jo runs into one of the guests - good looking and very smart Anthony - things get even more complicated…
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A Christmas in Disguise is a very short but lovely story centred around one woman's attempt to do a favour for a friend out of the goodness of her heart. It only took me a few minutes to read it but despite its length I fell in love with the characters and the plot-line. Katie Fforde is one of my favourite authors, I've loved everything she has written and when I first discovered her writing a few years ago I went through a phase of devouring her books one after another. A Christmas in Disguise is a real festive treat perfect for those spare few minutes you might have amongst all the Christmas madness. It's just the length that you may be well able to fit in a mince pie or two while reading!
Jo is a trained chef who works as a hotel receptionist and in her spare time she likes to volunteer at an animal shelter which rescues dogs that have been misused and mistreated at puppy farms. When I read this is what Jo does on a voluntary basis I just couldn't help but not like her. She came across as selfless and a person who would always put others needs before her own, this couldn't be more clearly demonstrated than when her friend Andi begs a favour of her. By anyone's standards this is a huge undertaking and many other people may well baulk at the cheek of their friend asking such a thing in particular on the most special day of the year.
Andi desperately wants to go home to visit her family for Christmas, she has worked hard all year as Caroline Calanader's home chef and needs and wants the time off over Christmas. The only thing is being the celeb Caroline is she refuses to give Andi the time off believing she has rarely been at her house all year and throwing a dinner for her friends on Christmas Day has to be done. So Andi has no choice but to work but an idea strikes and she begs Jo to step in in her place and cook the Christmas dinner without Caroline noticing it's not really Andi there at all. Needless to say from this moment on you know there will be a balancing act from Jo attempting to avoid chaos and discovery as well as plenty of laughs along the way.
You may well wonder why Jo hasn't somewhere else to be on Christmas Day and can step in to fill Andi's shoes but I will leave that for you to discover. In a way it is a bit sad but if she hadn't been available then she may not have bumped into guest Anthony Farley who arrives early. Jo is torn as she wants Andi to keep her job but once the handsome, debonair Anthony discovers all is not as it seems he uses this fact to his advantage. What followed was a real development of the story which can be very difficult to do as a writer when confined to a specific word limit with the aim of keeping it as a short story. But here Katie succeeds. I was laughing away at the antics at what Jo finds herself agreeing to do, something which is so out of her comfort zone for the second time in as many days. The title certainly began to fit the story from this point on and like Jo I found myself falling for Anthony just that little bit. The scenes and antics between the pair were fun, festive and engaging. There were plenty of comedic moments but on the other hand there were plenty too which had me cringing in equal measure.
Will Jo be able to fulfil her promise without discovery? Can she produce the most mouthwatering, tantalising Christmas feast on a par with the usual fair Andi is capable of producing? Will a bargain lead to her downfall or will Katie Fforde produce a twist that all short stories deserve? Buy this fabulous festive short story today to find out. You won't be disappointed you took the time to purchase it. For fans this will keep you going until next years release of Katie's next full length novel - A Summer at Sea.
If you do read this and enjoy it I would also recommend A Christmas Feast and other stories which was released last year. It's a collection of a good number of Katie's short stories with a festive theme and I have to say I loved it as it was so easy to pick up and put down at your leisure. Also I can't fail to mention From Scotland with Love a brilliant story which really struck a chord with me and I remember it well to this day. Do enjoy your Katie Fforde Christmas fix this year by starting with A Christmas in Disguise and continuing on with the above mentioned stories.
Many thanks to Random House UK, Cornerstone for my copy of A Christmas in Disguise via NetGalley and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.