Monday, December 17, 2012

Book Review & Giveaway: Married by Christmas

By Becky Gulc

**Giveaway is now closed**

I was delighted to be sent Married by Christmas by Scarlett Bailey for review for two reasons, 1) I LOVE Christmassy books 2) I remember seeing Scarlett Bailey’s previous novel (The Night Before Christmas) everywhere last year and had heard and read great things about it but hadn’t got round to reading it. My excitement increased ten-fold when Rowan Coleman announced in October that she is in fact the writer of these books and used the pseudonym of Scarlett to write a different, lighter, style, with a different publishers (see Rowan’s blog for more details). I am a big fan of Rowan’s novels so once I was very pleased to be reviewing one of her books.

Here is the synopsis:
All she wants is a perfect Christmas Eve wedding...

It’s been on Anna’s wish-list since she was a little girl, dreaming of a far happier family life than she’d ever experienced.

But now – only two weeks before her big day – her perfect husband-to-be drops a bombshell...

Only nothing’s going to stop Anna’s plans – not even the pesky inconvenience of discovering her groom already has a wife! (Synopsis courtesy of Random House UK.)

I was intrigued by the synopsis, it immediately made me want to find out more about Anna’s fiance’s ‘wife’ and the whole scenario, why would Anna still want to go through with the wedding if she didn’t even know about the pre-existing wife situation?!

Anna is a bit of a Monica character (like on Friends), with her life more planned and organised than the queen’s. Once the lovely Tom proposes (which we read about at the start of the novel) she sets about planning her dream wedding to take place a year later, as the title suggests, at Christmas time. When Tom begins to act out of character in the build up to the wedding, a bit of detective work between her and her best friend (Liv) leads Anna to find out Tom is already married following drunken nuptials in the US once. And the wife? Well, she could be anywhere. Unwilling to accept that her carefully laid plans for the perfect wedding are in jeopardy, and with Tom seemingly being a bit too lackadaisical about the situation, Anna does something very much unplanned for, she sets off to New York to track down said wife to get the divorce papers signed before it’s too late, but with just a name and a vocation to go on, will it be a case of searching for a needle in a hay stack? Will Anna‘s dreams and plans come true by Christmas time?

This book was a great adventure, and if you think it’s all going to be about a bridezilla type character it’s really not. The book surpassed my expectations (which were already high); I wasn’t expecting certain things to happen between two friends who are as close as sisters, but also the events and feelings which unfold when Anna heads to New York, when an unexpected travel partner called Miles is thrown into the mix. It was written in such a clever way which made me empathize with each of the characters. Without giving anything away, on paper there are reasons why you might question how you feel about a character and what they deserve in terms of happiness, but it was written so well I empathized with each one and was very satisfied, as a reader, with the outcomes.

I was drawn to the central characters of Anna and Liv straightaway. The bond between these two was so apparent throughout and the reasons for each of them being how they are and respond to certain situations really clear. Anna is a person who sees herself as somewhat damaged following her childhood and a spell in the care system before moving in with Liv and her family. I found it quite refreshing for a ‘chick lit’ type novel to touch on the difficulties relating to abandonment and being in care, it could have been a bit cliché in terms of outcomes but I didn’t find it to be. As for Liv, well she and her family are just lovely.

I thought the chemistry and spark between some of the characters was written so well, so intense, I really felt it, it was never all about one thing either. It was also a genuinely funny novel at times without ever feeling like it was forced, just natural. I could so see this book being turned into a great film.

Although the book is called Married by Christmas, it’s not over the top on the festive front, but there’s just enough of a dose to keep those wanting a Christmassy feel happy. After all, a visit to New York in December cannot be anything but festive can it? It definitely left me with a warm feeling inside at this cold time of year.

My only negative relates to the typos/grammatical errors, I’m by no means a keen proof reader but there were perhaps a few too many in this book that could have been picked up on prior to printing. Still, it didn’t spoil my enjoyment of it.

I loved this book! Hope we see lots more novels from ‘Scarlett’!

Thanks to Ebury Publishing for the book in exchange for an honest review.

Thanks to Scarlett (a.k.a. Rowan), we have THREE paperbacks of Married by Christmas for some lucky readers anywhere in the world!

How to win Married by Christmas
Since Becky envisions this book as a movie, please tell us your favorite holiday themed movie. (One entry per person.) Please include your e-mail address or another way to reach you if you win.

Giveaway ends December 23rd at midnight EST.


susieqlaw said...

When Harry Met Sally (New Year's Eve)

sendsusanmail AT gmail DOT com

Anonymous said...

My favorites are Love Actually and Millions.


Nova said...

I have several but first that came to mind is The Preacher's Wife.

Anonymous said...

The Holiday!


Books Etc. said...

Picking a favourite Christmas movie is so difficult! There are lots that I MUST watch every year but the one that wins out is Love, Actually. Still haven't watched it yet this season...maybe tonight!
Thanks for this giveaway!
books.etc.blogger AT gmail DOT com

DD said...

My favorite Christmas movie is the Muppet's Emmet Otter's Jug Band Christmas. I watched it as a kid and now enjoy it every year with my children.

dawndennis66611 at yahoo dot com

Ananda said...

Well, my all time fav is Bridget Jones's diary! In fact, this is not only my fav holiday themed movie, but my fav movie as well:)

Thank you chicklit central and thank you Scarlett for the awesome giveaway!


Jessica said...

I love the movie "The Holiday". It's soo cute.


-Jessica M

EFC Chrissy said...

So many favorite holiday hard to pick just one!!! I recently watched "Trading Christmas"...that's a sweet one. The cartoon movie "Twas the Night Before Christmas" (the one with the clock and the mice) is probably my favoriet...and of course, Harry Potter. They always do Halloween and/or Christmas at Hogwarts!

everyfreechance AT gmail DOT com

Na said...

Christmas with the Kranks and Home Alone are my favorites!


Unknown said...

There are so many I love! Here are a few: Love, Actually, A Christmas Story, The Holiday, and Elf!

bn100 said...

I like Home Alone.


Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

I adore Christmassy movies and some of my favorites are The Family Stone, Elf and The Holiday.

This book looks great!

missamberljohnson at gmail dot com

karenk said...

'the sound of music'

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

rubynreba said...

I like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation.

holdenj said...

I like The Holiday!

Nina said...

So this may sound like a ridiculous answer, but every holiday season, and admittedly every other season, my siblings and I get together and watch...A Very Brady Christmas. And let me tell you, it's good!!! So bad that it's good. Haha! :)
I also follow on twitter!

Mary Preston said...

Each year we love to watch A MUPPET CHRISTMAS CAROL. Dickens like you've never seen it before.


Linda Kish said...

I like The Santa Clause. But I also get busy and watch Hallmark channel and Lifetime channel and catch up on all of the sappy Christmas movies every year.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Rita Wray said...

Christmas Vacation, it's hilarious.


Literary Chanteuse said...

I have to say home Alone. My kids love it and have got me hooked too.


Mrs Mommy Booknerd said...

I just watched CHRISTMAS WITH HOLLY, it was amazingly good and based on a book.
Mrsmommybooknerdsbookreviews at gmail dot com

Erica said...

The Santa Clause!!! Love the movie.

wordywon at gmail dot com

Am a blog follower, FB, twitter, GFC and email

Heather said...

I do love National Lampoons Christmas Vacation - hilarious.

goweezie AT aol DOT com

Thanks for the great giveaway.


Jackie said...

I like "A Christmas Story."

Thanks for the giveaway!!


Jilleen said...

I have to say Little Drummer Boy.

Jill at Seaside Book Nook

seasidebooknook at yahoo dot com

Louise Lumsden said...

Miracle on 34th Street, The colour version with Richard Attenborough playing Kris Kringle. 'cause dreams do come true if you believe!

Pauline Wiles said...

I'm on the Grant/Firth bandwagon, also known as Love Actually. :)

Kat said...

My favourite is Home Alone

Jeryl M. said...

I like It's A Wonderful Life.

Jeryl M. said...

I forgot my e-mail address it's

DarcyO said...

I like so my holiday movies, but my favorite is "The Holiday."

valleyreader at gmail dot com

GoGreen said...

My pick is Home Alone.


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faithspage said...

Home Alone
kyfaithw at aol dot com

Anonymous said...

It isn't Christmas without watching White Christmas and Love, Actually. I also LOVE Home Alone!

cdyoungs at yahoo dot com