It's now November so it's time to promote and read all of the holiday novels! Yay! I adore Christmas and romances so Christmas romances are some of my all time favourite books. I've read a lot of bad ones over the years and some that are absolutely amazing. Three years ago I read and reviewed The Reluctant Elf by Michele Gorman, an author I really enjoy. This year Gorman published some cozier stories under the name Lilly Bartlett. She and her publisher decided that the feel-good The Reluctant Elf actually worked really well as a Bartlett novel so they've republished it as Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse. To help promote the relaunch of the book I'm reposting my review from three years ago (with a few small tweaks). Enjoy!
Here's the synopsis:
Put your feet up and tuck into the mince pies, because you won’t have to lift a finger to enjoy this Christmas!
Too bad the same can’t be said for single mother and extremely undomestic goddess, Lottie.
When her beloved Aunt Kate ends up in hospital just before Christmas, Lottie and her seven-year-old daughter rush to rural Wales to take over her B&B. A picky hotel reviewer and his mad family are coming to stay, and without the rating only he can bestow, Aunt Kate will lose her livelihood.
But Lottie can barely run her own life, let alone a hotel. How will she manage to turn the falling-down guesthouse into the luxurious wonderland the reviewer expects? And could mysterious taxi driver, Danny, who agrees to help her, turn out to be the real gift this season?
As the snow sparkles on the trees and hot chocolate steams in your hand, snuggle into the delicious magic of Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse.
The thing I didn't love was that the story seemed so outlandish. I couldn't understand why Aunt Kate would agree to have a reviewer stay when the B&B was in such disarray (that was an unintentional, and not very good, rhyme!). I think if the place had only been slightly messy and/or run down I could have accepted it but that wasn't the case.
Putting that negative out of mind (I wish it had been easier to do), made the rest of the story enjoyable. I loved Lottie's daughter (I think she could be described as precocious!) and reading about their little family. Single moms (and dads) have it tough and I liked that Bartlett made sure to show both sides of that life. It's hard to raise a child on your own but the relationship between parent and child can sometimes be extra special because it's just the two of them.
And, of course, I loved the love story. Was it predictable? Absolutely. But that didn't make it any less fun to read about. Reading as Lottie and Danny learned more about each other was so great. They become strangers to friends to something more. The progression is quick but it totally made sense. It was just so sweet!
If you like humorous and sweet stories, pick up Christmas at the Falling-Down Guesthouse by Lilly Bartlett. It's a great novella to ease yourself into Christmas reading since it's not over the top Christmassy but it still embraces the spirit of the holiday.