My latest review is another Romance, written by Kathryn Freeman. It’s interesting to know, although will give zero insight on where she gets her inspiration from, that Kathryn was a pharmacist before becoming a medical writer, which she now combines with novel writing of the heart-racing type.
On this, her latest novel, the plot is built around Christmas and, since the jolly season is fast approaching, I thought it was more than appropriate.
A Second Christmas Wish tells the story of Melissa Stanford and her son William, and how they spend this particular Christmas, after Melissa decides to enrol William in a Tennis academy. The tennis coach is her best friend’s brother and former professional tennis star, Daniel McCormack. He’s tall, his handsome, biceps at the ready. And he is great with William. Since Melissa already harboured the proverbial crush on him, it doesn’t take long for temptation to lead them both into a relationship. But it’s not all wine and roses. Back when Melissa was a model, she married famous designer Lawrence Raven, who turned out to be controlling and cruel, even towards their son. Now divorced and with a new career in design, she finds it difficult to come out of her fortress for another man, no matter how attractive or kind. In the meantime, William tries to decide if Santa Clause exists or not. Inspired by Daniel, he writes Santa a letter asking for a new racket without telling Melissa, but he has a second wish, one that he won’t share with anybody. The question is, will Santa meet his expectations?
This is a lovely, simple, Christmas story with enough suspense to keep you reading but not climatic enough to make you nervous. I like a good intrigue like everybody else but, sometimes, I just don’t want the stress.
This said, I feel like the source of tension came to not much. Lawrence becomes, as expected, the source of Melissa’s concerns when he unexpectedly demands to have William with him over Christmas. Considering he had seen him only once in a couple of years and it was awful, Melissa couldn’t but panic. This builds up as the story goes along, like the countdown on a bomb. But there is no explosion, nor heroic diffusion of the device by the hero in the very last second. I feel this could have been resolved differently for better catharsis for the reader.
The prose can be simplistic at times, although this can be a stylistic choice. Still, I wouldn’t mind a bit more imagery. The settings were hard to picture for me, except maybe Melissa’s living room and Daniel’s houses. I don’t feel I got a sense of anywhere else through the description.
Finally, and this is the only thing that really made it a bit confusing, was the changes of point of view between Melissa and Daniel. I appreciated knowing what both characters were thinking, but it seemed to move from one to the other without much signs. Sometimes I found myself reading into Daniel’s point of view thinking it was still Melissa and it made no sense, then having to backtrack and re-read to figure it out. This could be due to a formatting issue on the e-book or it might need to be taken care of before that.
Neither one of these issues diminished my need to know what happened next, though. The story telling is pretty good and I cared about what happened to the characters. All of them, from the main characters, to the secondary ones, had distinct voices. I particularly liked how Freeman managed to express the likeness between Daniel and his sister through their own voices, all while being distinct personalities. Even Lawrence’s soon to be stepdaughter had her own tone, even though she only appeared once in the story.
There is a lot of good things to be said about this novel. It’s charming, gentle, and well told. There are, like with most works, a couple of things that could be improved, but it didn’t deter my interest in the story and the characters. It’s highly recommendable for the upcoming season, for a heartwarming, stress-free read on the fluffy armchair next to the fire.
A Second Christmas Wish is now available for Kindle.