Publisher: Sphere (24 Oct 2013)
Cassie Smith has been out of work for a while but she has an idea. Drawing on her love of Christmas, she begins charging for small things: wrapping presents; writing cards; tree-decorating. She’s soon in huge demand and Cassie’s business, Calling Mrs Christmas, is born.
Carter Randall wants to make Christmas special for his children, so he enlists Cassie’s help, and his lavish requests start taking up all her time. Thank goodness she can rely on her loving partner Jim to handle the rest of her clients.
When millionaire Carter asks Cassie to join his family on a trip to Lapland, she knows she shouldn’t go . . . Suddenly Cassie finds herself facing a heart-breaking choice that could change her entire life.
This has to be my all-time favourite novel from Carole Matthews. Whatever I write won’t do the story justice …
Cassie, 35 and unemployed for 8 months has lost her place (and her way) in the world, until she has her idea of Calling Mrs Christmas. We see her confidence build as she realises that she is capable of being successful.
We find out about Cassie’s own childhood background and about her partner Jim (I loved Jim even before we meet him!).
At her first organised event, she meets Carter Randall. What a dilemma! Rich, successful and hot or Jim, the man she has been with for years with no chance of marriage or children on the horizon because of their finances.
I loved that the story is narrated both by Cassie (first person) and Jim (third person). This allows us to jet off to Swedish Lapland with Cassie and experience the ‘bubble’ she is in with Carter and his children while Jim is at home, carrying on his job as a prison warden and looking out for the two boys. We really get to know Jim (and love him) too.
I also loved the symmetry – Carter and his children = Jim and his two young offenders.
There are some very poignant scenes besides the romantic ones with the young offenders and one particular family scene; magic in abundance in Swedish Lapland and love of family and community. Cassie was so thoughtful in including one of her customers in their celebrations.
Matthews takes a plot and colours it in many different hues, not only with the scenes but with the emotions of her characters too. I become totally involved with the reality of the conflict, believing myself in the same situation and feeling exactly the same as her characters and that’s whether they are male or female! She has such a skill in weaving emotions into a tangle so that her readers are unable to totally figure out the way the romance will unfold and not knowing which male lead they are rooting for. I knew who I wanted to be ‘the one’ but at times I also wanted Cassie to choose differently.
The last thing I wrote in my notes:
“Fabulous. Awesome. Adore.”
Calling Mrs Christmas just fell into my online food shopping basket 🙂