Sunday, 2 December 2018

Christmas At Black Cherry Retreat by Angela Britnell


Christmas At Black Cherry Retreat by Angela Britnell
Published by Choc Lit tomorrow, the 3rd December 2018.

How I got this book:
Received a review copy via Rachel's Random Resources

My rating: 3 of 5 stars


Add Christmas At Black Cherry Retreat to your Goodreads

What if you had nowhere to call home for Christmas? 
When Fee Winter books a winter break at the remote Black Cherry Retreat in the small town of Pine Ridge, Tennessee, it’s with the idea that the peace and quiet will help her recuperate from her hectic life as a photographer.

But what she didn’t bank on was meeting Tom Chambers and his huge, interfering yet lovable family. With them, could Fee finally experience the warmth and support that’s been missing from her own life – and maybe even find a place to call home in time for Christmas?


I don't read much romance fiction so Christmas At Black Cherry Retreat is quite a step from my literary comfort zone. However I wanted a seasonal novel or two to help with getting myself into the Christmas spirit and the cover art on this one is just perfect! The story itself takes place over the months from just before Halloween until just after Christmas so, being set almost entirely in America, this covers the Thanksgiving holiday too. Christmas does just manage sneak a look in at the end. 

I liked the leading characters who meet at Black Cherry Retreat. Fee is an English war photographer who is in quite a bad place mentally and physically as a result of her lover's violent death in Afghanistan. Tom is Black Cherry Retreat's owner and also torn up over a previous relationship as he blames himself for his wife's murder. It sounds like a pretty dark start, but isn't so bleak! Fee and Tom are complete opposites in upbringing, life experience and expectations so this is a classic opposites attract romance story. Britnell has created thoroughly believable characters and I enjoyed reading about their initial attraction, burgeoning friendship and beyond. I just wish everything hadn't been compressed into such an unrealistically short timescale. Britnell deftly portrays Fee as this intensely independent and emotionally damaged woman, then expects readers to believe that instalove will allow her to simply shrug off decades of emotional neglect.

The story includes a number of odd dead ends too. We are introduced to characters who then vanish without any further mention and events that should be emotionally huge pass by in just a couple of pages seemingly leaving no lasting impact. Plus a subplot about Tom's wife's murderer fizzled out leaving me wondering why so much effort had been made to set it up. Overall I felt needed a more plausible storyline in order for Christmas At Black Cherry Retreat to totally convince me. If you can suspend disbelief, it's a heartwarming tale of the redemptive power of love, family and food (lots of food!), but for me there wasn't enough realism to keep me invested.

Meet the author

Angela grew up in Cornwall, England and returns frequently from her new home in Nashville, Tennessee. A lifelong love of reading turned into a passion for writing contemporary romance and her novels are usually set in the many places she's visited or lived on her extensive travels. After more than three decades of marriage to her American husband she's a huge fan of transatlantic romance and always makes sure her characters get their own happy-ever-after. Over the last twelve years she’s been multi-published and sold over 25 novels. She also writes short stories for women’s magazines. She is a member of the Romantic Novelists' Association, the Romance Writers of America and the Music City Romance Writers.

Author links: 
Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram




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14 comments:

  1. Wow! Both of the characters have had some huge losses to deal with. It sounds like this one could have been a bit better if there hadn't been so many things introduced but not followed up on.

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    1. A spot of tighter editing and this could have been an ideal festive read

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  2. This is exactly why I don't read a lot of Christmas romances. They just seem to fall flat for me.

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    1. I'm not a big romance fan, but I am a sucker for a Christmassy book cover!

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  3. I've been trying to find a good Christmas read but this one I'll have to pass on, it just doesn't sound like my cup of tea. Great review!

    Carrie @ The Butterfly Reader

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    1. The Moonglow series by Deborah Garner might suit you? I've enjoyed four of these novellas. Nutcracker Sweets is the latest:
      https://litflits.blogspot.com/2018/12/nutcracker-sweets-at-moonglow-by.html

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  4. Thank you for being a part of the blog tour for 'Christmas at Black Cherry Retreat' and for your thoughtful review.

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  5. this would be out of my confort zone too! too bad the storyline wasn't good!

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    1. I think it would have appealed more to romance readers - I'm not exactly the target audience!

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  6. Hmm i also don't read romance much but good on you for giving this a try and happy you were able to find somethings to enjoy.
    Tori @ In Tori Lex

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    1. There were certainly good points and I liked the Christmas vibe at the end, brief though it was!

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  7. It's always good to take a little trip outside of your comfort zone! I really like the idea of making the time to try new genres. I do like romance but I don't usually read seasonal romance so maybe I need to jump out of my comfort zone with that a little bit too. It sounds like it was good enough, but that some things could've been tied together and developed a little bit too.

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    1. Exactly! The story was nice and even the romance was enjoyable to read about, but I would have liked fewer red herrings!

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