Monday, 5 December 2016

Emma's Review: Stella's Christmas Wish by Kate Blackadder

Reviewed by Emma Crowley

Six days before Christmas, Stella must rush home to Scotland when her grandmother is taken to hospital. As she reconnects with her past, old flames are rekindled, and as Christmas fast approaches, Stella begins to wonder if her most heartfelt wish can come true?

Uprooted from her life in London and back in her childhood home of the Scottish borders, Stella is soon faced with relationships which have lain dormant for years. New opportunities present themselves, but will Stella dare to take them..

Amazon link: Kindle

With the ever increasing number of Christmas themed books being published each year, at this stage there has to be that little bit extra that sets a book apart from all the rest otherwise it is in danger of being lost amongst all the Christmas books out there and a treat of a book could be forgotten. Stella's Christmas Wish was not the exact treat I had been hoping for but I was still very glad to have discovered the writing of Kate Blackadder and to meet our main female protagonist Stella as she puts aside her life in London and returns to the small town of Melrose in Scotland to help those who need her most. Even so by doing this she will be forced to confront an issue she has kept firmly locked at the back of her mind for fear of what can of worms it may very well open.

It was the blurb that made me want to read this story and combined with a suitably themed Christmas cover I was eager to uncover Stella's story. I had never heard of Kate Blackadder before and was surprised to see she has written quite a number of books when I checked on Amazon. I hadn't realised before beginning Stella's story that rather than a full length novel Stella's Christmas Wish was a novella, it's definitely not a short story as it was around 180 pages. Therefore it provided plenty of time to become familiar with the characters and their back-stories and there was enough content to make it feel like I was reading a full length book.

Stella Greenlaw is a hard worker, dedicated to her job in London and seemingly enjoying life even if it does mean being away from her family. Things are busy in the office and she is doing well working on various deals that are about to come to fruition. Six days before Christmas she receives a phone call saying her beloved Gran Alice, who raised herself and her sister Maddie after tragedy struck, has fallen from a ladder whilst hanging a painting. She is now in hospital with a broken ankle and at the moment she is unconscious. From the outset the deep love and respect Stella has for her Gran is apparent and only grows stronger throughout the story. Stella wonders why can't Maddie go to be beside her grans's side as she is at crucial stage with something in work and Maddie is the one who lives closer? It soon transpires that Maddie has gone away and no one will tell Stella where she has gone or why? 

Later on as we discover the truth I thought the reasons for Maddie's absence were heartfelt and brought a lovely tone and atmosphere to the story. If this had been a full length book I would have loved for this angle of the story to have been developed even more. Saying that given the constraints of a novella I thought the author covered the topic very well as she did with all of the themes rapidly emerging within the story. Stella being the selfless person she is (which is only heightened even more as we become familiar with the characters and setting) drops everything and heads to Scotland. The reader can sense this is not what Stella had planned. There seems to be something holding her back, something she has been avoiding and returning to Scotland may just turn her life upside down. On the other hand Christmas may just be the time when things come into the open be they for better or worse.

Soon Stella arrives home and a whole cast of characters are introduced and honestly I found it all a bit confusing at first as to who was who and how they slotted in with the overall story. There was Lilas, an artist who lived with Stella's Gran. Alice appeared to be some one who took in waifs and strays and nurtured them and Lilas definitely seemed to be a person who needed that extra little bit of care. Then we had Gray and his daughter Bette who were close friends of Alice and played their roles well. Ross is Gray's grandson who runs the local deli and restaurant. He seemed such a gorgeous man yet he was tormented by something in the past and it soon becomes clear himself and Stella have a shared history which ended rather abruptly. 

The story moved along at a nice pace as Stella goes between Melrose and Edinburgh visiting Alice and hoping that she will be alright whilst all the time pondering just where could Maddie be and also attempting to face up to the fact that she was back in close contact with Ross. The author certainly excelled at describing Edinburgh at Christmas and it would really make you want to visit the city. The settings combined with everything Stella was going through made for a nice read and I didn't notice the pages whizzing by as we see Stella finally coming to terms with the past and as reasons come to the fore she proves more than ever how truly selfless she is and what a kind, caring character she is in putting everyone else' needs before her own. Is Stella's Christmas Wish as mentioned in the title granted? Well to discover the answer you wouldn't go wrong in picking up this delightful short story. It's a lovely read, maybe not the most memorable of this years publications but still enjoyable nonetheless.

Many thanks to Thomas Ross of Black & White Publishing for my copy of Stella's Christmas Wish to review and to Sharon for having my review on the blog.

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