The Christmas Promise
Author: Sue Moorcroft
Publisher: Avon (Harper Collins Publishers Ltd)
Page count: 368pp
Release Date: 1st Dec 2016
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
With sales a bit thin on the ground at her Camden West Yard casual stall, Ava is battling through the sleet with friend Izz to Blaggard’s Bar, most definitely not in the ‘Christmas Spirit’.
Ava is Izz’s ‘plus one’ at her new company ‘do’. She’d already heard loads about Izz and bestie Todd’s new big important boss, Sam, so was curious to meet him. As she starts to chat to the successful entrepreneur, albeit briefly, she is reminded of her difficult finances and struggling business as a hat milliner.
Things get off to a decidedly rocky start, despite Sam buying her a drink, when she overhears two of his colleagues insisting he had the right to hit on her because he bought her a drink. She’s not impressed, and even more so when she realises Izz has a crush on Sam and then men are acting embarrassed, causing Ava’s feelings of indignation on her friend’s behalf. Sam soon makes an apology for his friend’s behaviour and conversation begins to flow, until Izz mentions the elephant in the room; Ava doesn’t like Christmas. Gasp, horror! But there are reasons for her lack of Christmas cheer.
And of course, she comes into contact with Mr Obligatory Jerk, at this difficult time of year, which provokes Sam into attempting to protect her.
When it comes to the millinery aspects of the book; the creation of hats, materials used etc, Moorcroft has obviously done her research and it reads as expertise. And knowing her from a couple of conventions, it is evident where she uses her genre knowledge in respect of Burlesque and Steampunk.
And as the novel progresses, she shows her knowledge of comics, and carries it off believably, throwing in the ‘New 52s’ though that’s been recently overtaken by DC Rebirth (I doubt publishing schedules would allow for this addition).
At the heart of the book, Moorcroft also deals with a couple of emotional issues; cancer and the impact of chemo through a secondary character, and ‘revenge porn’ or blackmail and humiliation, attempted again by a secondary character. Moorcroft deals with these issues sensitively and adeptly, offering her advice through Ava’s thoughts. Nicely handled. As an aside, for those being threatened with ‘revenge porn’, please research #NoToRevengePorn on social media. As Ava and Wendy put it, ‘No blame, no shame.’
As the book progresses, we have the usual ups and downs in relationships; potential romances, existing romances and current friendships. Plenty to keep the tension going. I was particularly impressed with the depiction of a panic attack at one stage.
When the physical scenes happen, as they do in romance novels, they are also very real; intimate, sometimes funny, passionate and above all, written in a respectful, satisfying way, if you get my drift. Ahem.
As for the last quarter? Wow, what an emotional roller coaster. I could literally feel my heart in the pit if my stomach et times, a curdling knot of fear, turmoil, guilt, love, laughter, everything.
Moorcroft has spun a wonderful tale bursting with emotional warmth and tears as well as fun. A brilliant, brilliant book.
Having just moved home, and facing my own roller coasters, ones that always come at this time if the year, The Christmas Prkmise gave me moments of sheer joy and satisfaction. In fact, a perfect Christmas.