The Twelve Days of Christmas (by Trisha Ashley)

I've had somewhat mixed reactions to books by Trisha Ashley, but usually find myself enjoying them by the time I’m about half way through. This one was quite highly recommended online, so it went on my wishlist and I was pleased to be given it for my birthday a year ago. It seemed like ideal reading for a flight, despite the theme being - clearly - a cold winter rather than a warm summer.

‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ is about Holly, who - as we quickly discover - has just lost her grandmother during the festive season. Worse, it’s only a few years since she lost her husband in a horrible accident during the winter. Holly works as a chef during the summer but prefers to house-sit in the winter, preferably on her own, away from all memories of Christmas. So when she’s asked, at the last moment, to take on an extra assignment she jumps at the chance of escaping from her well-meaning and loving family.

However she doesn't bargain for the friendliness of the people she meets, nor the way she feels oddly drawn to take on responsibilities that are nothing to do with her contract. A young and lonely teenager, and a frail elderly couple capture her heart and she finds herself preparing for Christmas - something she was determined never to do again. Then, when it seems as if she might be able to escape after all, the weather takes a turn for the worse and she’s holed up with a motley crowd of people…

It’s cliched, undoubtedly, and the eventual outcome is fairly obvious from the beginning, but I enjoyed the light irony of Holly’s principles being turned upside down, exposing her caring and generous nature which has been hidden amidst her grief over the years.

As with everything else I've read by Trisha Ashley there are places where the tenses are annoyingly inconsistent, but it’s a minor problem. I enjoyed this story very much and while some of the minor characters are very much caricatures, I found Holly getting right under my skin and could sympathise with her strongly. Perhaps there were rather too many people involved - I didn't always remember who was whom, but it didn't matter much. The most important people were very nicely done.

Pleasant, undemending women's fiction - ideal for holiday reading (albeit rather more suited to winter than summer!)

Review by copyright 2014 Sue's Book Reviews

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