Thanks to Lynn Marie Hulsman for the advance reading copy of Christmas at Thornton Hall. This debut novel is launched tomorrow and I had a little Q & A session with the author to get to know her a bit better. See the interview with Lynn underneath this review.....
Juliet Hill has had an awful start to Christmas. She has just broken up with her boyfriend and she has nowhere to go for the festive season. When her chef agency offers the job of catering at Thornton Hall over the Christmas period, it seems the ideal way to lick her wounds. She has catered for them before and knows the Earl, his eccentric family and their staff well. Too well, it seems.....
This is a fast paced romance novel with lots of colourful characters and crazy capers. The staff at the Hall are a great mixture of personalities and the Owners of Thornton Hall are whole lotta crazy!
Juliet is at a crossroads in her life and seems to think that if a man looks at her twice he may end up proposing to her. Bizzare. She has a couple of admirers at The Hall, but are either of them suitable? Should she give up on her ex and move on or consider a reunion?
This book flies along, sometimes so fast that I had to re-read parts to catch up. There are a few flashbacks to previous encounters with the Thornton Hall family and staff, but they are very vague.
I found Juliet to be a little immature with her approach to men, and her future, but I loved the characters in the kitchen of The Hall: Two clashing Gay Butlers competing for top dog position within the house, a cute Irish couple who have been there for years and a ditzy maid who has no filter. These characters made for an entertaining look at life below stairs in a modern day Country House.
Lynn Marie obviously enjoys comedy and has brought lots of it to her debut novel. Perfect read for the season and I look forward to her next book.
Here is my Q & A with the author......
Hi Lynn,Here are your quick fire questions :1. Your earliest Christmas memory?I'm afraid I found out the truth about The Big Guy very, very early, at about age 5. I have four older brothers, if you can imagine. When you're the littlest, you're always trying to play catch-up, and travel in the big leagues. My sense that secrets were being kept was ultra-keen as I never wanted to be the one left out, or in the dark. On the night in questions, they were kindly trying to ring sleigh bells outside the window and someone was somewhere braying like a reindeer to stir up excitement at my Grandmother's house where scads of relatives were spending Christmas Eve Night. Unfortunately, my desire to be in the know led me to open one too many closet doors. Needless to say, I discovered the "present closet." The scales had been stripped from my eyes, and no matter what they said, I could never go back to being innocent. I played along, though, because even at 5, I sensed that they wanted me to believe. It was just as well. I was TERRIFIED by department store Santa's and the closest I ever got to one was an arm's length away, and that was only to get the candy cane.2. Your best Santa gift received as a child?Without a doubt, it was my first Sasha doll. When I was little, there was this line of expensive dolls from Russia that came in a large tube. In the vein of American Girl dolls, they were very pricey, and had fashion-forward outfits you could buy to go with them. It was an extravagant gift by my family's standards, and it made me feel like a princess.3. Your favourite Christmas song?Let it Snow, for sure, and especially when it's sung by some '40s or '50s star like Rock Hudson or Rosemary Clooney or Doris Day.4. Favourite Christmas Book?How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I read it and watch it every year. That said, I just completed a grown-up romance novel by Trisha Ashley called Wish Upon a Star. It definitely ranks.5. Traditional Christmas Dinner or something unusual?Oh, I love a traditional Christmas dinner. I can't wait for fall and winter every year so I can start roasting things. We always have a whole turkey, and I insist on barrels of gravy. I like the kind of stuffing my mother made that involves bread, onions, and celery. As I've grown older and my tastes have gotten more sophisticated, I like to roast brussels sprouts with garlic, and I adore beets with vinegar and onion. But, the holidays aren't the holidays without a super-trashalicious dish my mother always served. Broccoli casserole. It's made with frozen chopped broccoli, cream of mushroom soup, grated cheddar cheese, and fried Ritz crackers on top to form a crust. There! I shared. Please don't judge me. It's a steamy, creamy, cheesy, buttery, crunchy taste of heaven.6. Red/Green decorations or something more modern?I enjoy a nice pink a silver tree if I'm out at a wine bar, and don't mind some purple splashes on my chocolate wrappers, but in the home, I'm way retro. I do love a bit of gold in there, too, though.7. Family Christmas traditions?One new tradition is that my friend Kate and her daughter Eloise come over with enough buttery pre-made, homemade dough to make 10 dozen cookies. She brings paintbrushes, colored royal icing, and cookie cutters. My two kids and I pitch in, and by the end of a long day, there's food dye on the ceiling and sugar on the back of every dining room chair, but it's worth it. People LOVE getting decorated holiday cookies that not only look festive, but taste like real food!Every year, I watch lots of traditional movies like Miracle on 34th Street and It's a Wonderful Life. With the kids, we have added A Christmas Story, Elf, and Shrek's Christmas. My husband's all-time favorite is The Bishop's Wife. With that one, we put the kids to bed, and open a bottle of wine. It's very romantic.8. Your favourite thing to do over the Christmas holidays?I love hunkering down when it's snowing outside, to listen to Christmas music, play board games, and have everyone laying around in pajamas on blankets in the living room. I live in a New York City high rise, so we don't have a fireplace, but we often visit friends and relatives who do. Indoor fires in the winter time are just magical!
Thanks again to Lynn Marie for the chance to read her book and for answering my quicky Christmas questions !!
Christmas At Thornton Hall is released 12 Dec and is published by Harper Impulse
The author can be contacted via Twitter @LynnMarieSays.