Author: Milly Johnson
Genre: Chick Lit
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published: 25th October 2012
Source: Review copy from publisher
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First SentenceEve sat patiently in the snug reception area of Firkin, Mead and Mead solicitors whilst the rain outside battered the window as if trying to break in to share the warmth.
‘Tis the season to be jolly… But can Eve find happiness through the frost…?
Eve has never liked Christmas, not since her beloved fiancé was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day. So when her adored elderly aunt dies, the last thing she is expecting is to be left a theme park in her will. A theme park with a Christmas theme…
And that’s not the only catch. Her aunt’s will stipulates that Eve must run the park with a mysterious partner, the exotically named Jacques Glace. Who is this Jacques, and why did Aunt Evelyn name him in her will?
But Eve isn’t going to back down from a challenge. She’s determined to make a success of Winterworld, no matter what. Can she overcome her dislike of Christmas, and can Jacques melt her frozen heart at last…?
Looking back through my notes I realised that I really didn’t take many notes while reading A Winter Flame because I was too engrossed in the story which is oh so festive! *sighs happily* I had a little tear in my eye by the time I closed the book.
Eve is a bitter workaholic who hates Christmas so you can imagine her shock when she inherits one half of her dear Great Aunt Evelyn’s Christmas theme park in her will. A theme park that nobody had known existed. The catch? The other half was left to a man named Jacques Glace who Eve knows next to nothing about and becomes the bane of her existence. We also get to meet her cousin, Violet who readers of Milly’s White Wedding will recognise, and there’s a whole cast of side characters who really flesh out the population of A Winter Flame excellently. I was just as sad to leave Winterworld’s Santa Claus and Effin the Welshman with the most colourful insults I may have seen as I was to leave Eve, Jacques and Violet.
I fell in love with Jacques something silly. He’s such a delightful character with his mysterious past, his joie de vivre and his Spongebob phone sock that I think he may have been one of the reasons that I didn’t like Eve as much as I could have. I found she was clinging on too much to a life that she never got to live which, if anything, was befouling her Great Aunt’s memory who didn’t start living until the tail end of her life and didn’t wish that on anybody, least of all Eve. I found myself begging Jacques to melt her heart and will admit that I needed to see this happen. Eve is just so bitter and jaded. I wanted her to live! So while I wasn’t fond of her so much, she was an amazing character because you genuinely want to see her happy.
As for Violet, we’ve met her before so we know her story. I wouldn’t worry about not having read White Wedding (though it’s very good so you should anyway) because A Winter Flame is a standalone novel but we do see a continuation of her story and how her past relationships have shaped her confidence.
And of course, the Christmas theme park. Just.. wow. I feel like I’ve been there! I can picture so clearly the little train that keeps going too fast, the adorable quiet reindeer with her two little ones, the snow ponies, the enchanted forest, the carousel… If I close my eyes I imagine it so clearly, it’s just like I’ve actually visited Winterworld. Plus I think their really is Santa. He’s real, you know? I bet Milly had tea with him to research his character.
This is a book about finding yourself when you realise that things aren’t always as they seem and the idea that it’s never too late to discover the spirit of Christmas and to live. A Winter Flame is a light read that explores serious issues and it melted my heart, never mind Eve’s, and it cemented Milly Johnson as one of my very favourite chick lit authors.