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.
Cassie finds herself on a downward spiral when she is made redundant. After endless unsuccessful job applications Cassie is seriously struggling to get through each day trapped at home with no reason to get out of bed in the morning…at least until she has an idea. An early Christmas TV advert gets Cassie thinking about her love of Christmas and how she might be able to use her passion for presents, snowflakes and tinsel to make a business. Calling her business Calling Mrs Christmas she starts off small with card writing, and present buying and wrapping but before she knows it she is organising Christmas parties, decorating houses and planning Christmas lunches. However, her big break comes in the form of Carter Randall, a wealthy businessman and newly separated father of two who wants to make this Christmas extra special for his children. He hires Cassie to organise practically his whole Christmas – including a holiday to Lapland (on which she is invited) and her life starts to change in ways that she couldn’t even have imagined…
Calling Mrs Christmas doesn’t just revolve around Cassie, however. We also learn the story of her partner, Jim, who works at a Young Offenders Unit and particularly takes a shine to two offenders who are coming up for release, Rozzer and Smudge. I found this part of the story really heartbreaking, especially reading about some of the goings on in the Young Offenders Unit.
Carole Matthews is one of my favourite authors. I can always settle down with one of her books knowing that it’ll be a fantastic read and Calling Mrs Christmas definitely doesn’t disappoint! I’ve read many a (so-called) festive read in the past and have sometimes found that, actually, the novel doesn’t really involve Christmas much at all, but Calling Mrs Christmas actually lives up to the description of a proper Christmas read. It definitely had me feeling festive, and because Cassie was working on tasks all during the run up to Christmas it does have a real Christmassy theme to it too. I would go so far as to say this is one of the best Christmas novels I’ve read, because despite getting you in a festive mood, there’s real, intriguing storylines going on at the same time, so much so that it really is difficult to put this book down.
Cassie is a great character who is faced with some difficult choices. I started off really liking her but some of her actions throughout the story did have me screaming in frustration at her! Her partner Jim sounds absolutely lovely and it’s touching the way he cares for the boys at the unit and deals with some of the things he encounters in his working life. Yet he is still willing to come home after a long day and help Cassie wrap presents, write cards and even dress up as Santa for one or two parties!
I also really enjoyed Rozzer and Smudge’s stories. Their situation really got me thinking and it was heartbreaking to read about the hardships they have faced in life and frustrating that it seems so difficult for them to make a go of their lives. However, with Jim’s help you know they’re sure to succeed…
One of my favourite parts of the story was the trip that Cassie organised for Carter and his children to Lapland. It was fascinating to read about, especially their stay at the Ice Hotel and getting to see the Northern Lights. If their trip, (complete with sleigh rides, log cabins and Santa) doesn’t have you excited about Christmas then nothing will.
Calling Mrs Christmas is a pure escapist read. You’ll find yourself swept away in the characters lives and unable to put this novel down. It’s so well written and will definitely leave you feeling warm and Christmassy! Carole Matthews continues her reputation as a fantastic Chick Lit author and I really hope that she brings out a Christmas novel every year.
Pass the mince pies…
Reviewed by Holly K