From the New York Times bestselling author of The Proposal and “rising star in the romance genre” (Entertainment Weekly) comes a dazzling new novel about a spontaneous holiday vacation that turns into an unforgettable romance.
Vivian Forest has been out of the country a grand total of one time, so when she gets the chance to tag along on her daughter Maddie’s work trip to England to style a royal family member, she can’t refuse. She’s excited to spend the holidays taking in the magnificent British sights, but what she doesn’t expect is to become instantly attracted to a certain private secretary, his charming accent, and unyielding formality.
Malcolm Hudson has worked for the Queen for years and has never given a personal, private tour—until now. He is intrigued by Vivian the moment he meets her and finds himself making excuses just to spend time with her. When flirtatious banter turns into a kiss under the mistletoe, things snowball into a full-on fling.
Despite a ticking timer on their holiday romance, they are completely fine with ending their short, steamy affair come New Year’s Day. . .or are they?
(From the Book Blurb)
The fourth book in Jasmine Guillory’s series focuses on Maddie’s mum Vivian Forest and her own meet cute with a smart and handsome British man.
I like the way throughout the series the author created diverse characters that do not often get enough representation in romance books. This time she concentrates on slightly older protagonists – Vivian is 54 and has been divorced for more than three decades. She has also been working hard as a social worker in a busy hospital, raising her daughter as a single mother and taking care of her sister Jo who has had serious health probems. All this meant that she hasn’t had much time for herslef, let alone travelling or holidays.
When Maddie Forest unexpectedly is asked to step in and substitute her mentor on a work trip to the UK, Maddie does not invite her boyfriend Theo, because she can spend New Year with him, but Christmas…Christmas is for family, Christmas is for spending time with her mum. Luckily, Vivian is all in. The job is high profile as it involves the royal family and the mopther and daughter get to spend a part of their holiday at a royal residence in the north of England.
We do not see much of Maddie in this book as she is way too busy with last minute clothes alterations and fittings, so Vivian has a lot of free time to explore the house and marvel at neverending cultural differences. Vivian’s meet cute, Malcolm Hudson, has an important job- he is a private secretary of Her Majesty. He has been divorced for six years, and his own private life very much centres around his sister and 19-year-old nephew Miles. Malcolm is immediately charmed by Vivian’s smile and positive attitude.
She had such a strong and playful sense of self…She was neither demanding nor bashful; just friendly and inquisitive and smiling.
Christmas holidays and New Year are a special liminal time when unusual things can happen and even the most careful and realistic people decide to give in to romance. Malcolm takes time to get to know Vivian and what is important to her, as much as it is possible in the short time they have together. I love the way Vivian vents her feelings on the subject of surprises and how they are often about what the other person wants, not the person they are surprising, and Malcolm takes it aboard to make sure she feels comfortable with the things he suggests.
The fairy-tale setting and royal guest appearances in the book might make you think that this romance is too far away from real life and difficult to relate to, but it isn’t the case. Vivian and Malcolm live thousands of kilometers away, but, ultimately, they will understand that the connection they have is special and worth the risk. You don’t have to be based in different countries to experience this feeling: No, we are too different…No, there is no way it will work… He/She is too set in his /her ways. His job/ college/family is too important for him…The logistics would be a nightmare… And another potentially beautiful relationship bites the dust before you’ve even given it a chance. Yes, our life experiences teach us that we have to be realistic and pragmatic, and avoid risks, and this is how we may end with a job that brings more money, but less joy and happiness, or refuse to apologise to a relative or a friend who might just have a different point of view. Vivian and Malcolm knew from the very beginning the risks, but, still, they decided to give it a try, and they certainly deserve their own happy ever after.
This was not a laugh out loud book for me, but Jasmine Guillory’s trademark sense of humour is still there, coupled with her impeccable writing style. If you loved her previous books, and the diversity of her characters and settings, you will definitely appreciate this slightly more mature romance. And if you love tea, scones, cucumber sandwiches and all things British, you will have even more reasons to enjoy this last instalment of Jasmine Guillory’s hugely successful Wedding series.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Berkley for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.