A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale

Being a nanny was as close as she could get to that life, and she loved every minute of it. 


Title - A Christmas to Remember
Author - Jenny Hale
Publisher - Bookouture 
Publication Date - 10th October 2014
Format - eBook (Provided via NetGalley)
Pages - 316

The blurb

Everyone loves Christmas - don't they? 

Carrie Blake loves her job as a nanny but, while her friends are settling down, all of Carrie's spare time is spent with other people's families. Though it breaks her heart, her New Year's resolution is to embark on a new career and fix her love life. 

As Carrie starts her last job, she's sure she'll be going out on a high - the house is amazing, the kids are adorable, and she's in charge of decorating the tree!

The only problem could be her boss... single-dad Adam Fletcher might be both handsome and successful, but he's always working. Doesn't he realise he's missing out on precious moments with his son and daughter? 

As Adam's family arrive for Christmas including his sensitive sister, Sharon, and his fun-loving elderly Grandpa, Walter, Carrie realises that she might just have found the perfect allies in her quest to persuade Adam to loosen up. There's still time for Carrie to make this the best Christmas ever... after all, Christmas is the time for miracles, isn't it? Let the festivities begin! 

Becca's thoughts

I love Christmas. Adore it, even. As soon as October comes around, I am a Christmassy mess of excitement, and I really don't care whether people find that annoying or not, because quite frankly, this is the time of year when I'm at my happiest. Weird, I know, but there's something magical about the festive season that, I guess, somehow brings me back to life. It's almost as if, throughout the rest of the year, through Spring and Summer, I'm hibernating. But as soon as I glimpse a strand of twinkling fairy-lights, or I manage to steal a quick whiff of a mince pie, then that's it. I'm brought back to life, and I'm heading full-pelt towards the big day. I reckon I'm this way because of my huge family. Being around children during Christmas is infectious. I'm the eldest of seven children (I know, I mention this all the time), and each year, I return home to spend Christmas day with my family. I think that until I have my own children, I'll continue to do this, because truthfully, nothing in this world can beat the feeling that I have when I wake up on Christmas morning and wait for them all to sleepily tread down the stairs to see if Santa's been. Family makes Christmas what it is. Yes, the presents are lovely, the dinner is fantastic, but have you ever tried to imagine what it would be like if it was just you on your own? Waking up on Christmas morning, being able to tear open presents, but having no one to share your excitement with? Or sitting down at the table to tuck into your turkey, picking up a cracker and having no one to tear away the other side? Sad, right? In my head, when I imagine that exact scenario, it's terrifying. Which leads me perfectly into my review, and into Jenny's introduction of her main character, Carrie. 

Carrie is a nanny, and rather than getting on with meeting the man of her dreams and beginning her own family, she's caring for other people's children and ensuring that she's doing the best job possible for those little people in her care. I knew right away that I was going to adore her. She was just so nurturing, kind and unselfish, and those are some of my favourite traits to be found in people. She had decided that the Fletcher Family was going to be her last job within the nannying business. After that, Carrie was going to focus on her own love-life, and finally, she'd be able to make her own children breakfast and play and take care of her own babies. It was her dream. Ever since she could remember, bringing up her own family and standing beside a loving husband was something that she had always wanted, but working all of the time and spending so much time with another family didn't leave much free-time for Carrie to progress personally. So, preparing herself for the last family that she'd be working with, Carrie was determined to get through the couple of months, until the Fletcher children went back to their Mother and Carrie's services were no longer needed. 

Family is such a huge thing within A Christmas to Remember, and for me, it set the gorgeous story off beautifully. Carrie was and always had been fabulous with children. She had a way of getting down to their level and really connecting with them. It was made clear to me, as I continued to read, that she knew what she was doing. She had worked with numerous families before, and she'd met every type of child imaginable, and so, she was a very capable nanny indeed. But, when Carrie first met Adam Fletcher, workaholic father to Olivia and David, it was something new entirely. The twins, Carrie realised, didn't connect with their father at all. Adam was working all around the clock, taking calls at the dinner table, never putting his children to bed or reading them a bed-time story the way Carrie's dad had always done for her. She just didn't understand why Adam was like it, and she decided to make it her mission to fix it, because she knew, better than anyone else, what is was like to want your own family, and Adam had that, right in front of him, yet he still chose to take his calls over talking to his children. 

Carrie's longing for a real family of her own was evident. She worked day in, day out with the Fletcher children, but all the while, trying not to get too attached for fear of missing them too damn much when the time finally came around for her to get up and leave. Carrie took to the Fletcher children immediately, and her adoration only intensified the fact that she longed for a family of her own. I guess being around the Fletcher family eased it somewhat, but it would never be the real thing, and the real thing was something that Carrie desperately wanted. Needed, even. 

Adam Fletcher, the children's father, was always too busy. Too busy taking calls, too busy in his office, too busy at work... Even I was becoming frustrated with him,  despite him being deliciously irresistible. From my point of view, I could totally understand Carrie's aggravation. She couldn't fathom why on earth he didn't want to spend time with his children. She truly didn't understand. He got in late from work, he wasn't playful or loving, and he seemed to watch Carrie intently whenever she interacted with David or Olivia, as if trying to work out how she did what she did. As if he wanted to be able to talk to his children in such a way, too. It was moving, to the say the least. At times I got the impression that he was almost scared of them, as if he didn't know what to say or do, and I, like Carrie, wanted to wrap my arms around him and tell him he could do it. That all he needed to do was to put down the phone and pay some attention to them. Carrie got worked up about Adam's lack of connection with his children on more than one occasion, but she was completely torn about whether she'd be stepping over the mark if she attempted to let him know how she felt. From where she was standing, and from where I was sitting, it was so completely easy to see where Adam was going wrong. 

Despite Carrie's frustration with Adam, there was an exciting zap of chemistry right from the moment that she first set eyes on him. Oooh, it was fabulous, and even with Adam's workaholic tendencies, there were definitely moments of heated eye contact and small smiles. I LOVED this, and I LOVED how slight the actions were, yet still spoke volumes to the reader. Of course, Adam lived in a big fancy house and owned his own business, so Carrie had already talked herself out of anything like "that" happening between them. Although she found it hard to keep her eyes off him, and her breath caught in her throat each time he smiled at her, he was strictly off-limits, and she was a professional, and that was the end of that. Jenny's character development was perfect, and I grew to know and love Carrie, the children, Adam, and his entire family more as I turned the pages. They were so colourful and charming, and added heaps of character to the story itself. Being surrounded by this family made me feel as if I was surrounded by my own, and even when I was reading on my own, I felt like I was in a room full of chatty, friendly faces that I knew so well it was hard to believe that they were fiction. 

As the story progresses, Carrie slowly attempted to teach Adam about his children. She'd try to incorporate Adam into their bedtime, and beckon him over when she believed that he would be able to join in whatever activities her and the children were going to do. Christmas tree searching, present buying... Everything that reminds you of Christmas, and everything that you do with your family. The progress that Adam made from the beginning of the story to the end brought tears of happiness to my eyes when I read the final page. As I said, I'm a complete family girl, and so this book was like curling up at home, surrounded by my brothers and sisters. It was warm and cosy, familiar and comforting, and it was just a sheer picture of perfection that effortlessly captured my most loved time of year. 

Becca's Books is giving A Christmas to Remember by Jenny Hale five absolutely gorgeous cupcakes. Festive-looking ones, though, of course! ;) I cannot recommend this absolutely beautiful story enough. It is perfect for everyone, and I beg you to read it before Christmas rolls around. I feel like it's reinforced my Christmas beliefs once more. That the presents beneath the tree and the food on the table is definitely an advantage, but as long as you have your family around you, I really don't think that you need much more than that. Jenny Hale, I salute you! This story was incredible, and Carrie was fabulous. An inspiration to women, sending a message that dreams do come true...


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