Sunday, November 24, 2019

I Couldn't Wait to Start Reading a Holiday Novel: Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory

Blame it on the time crunch for reading library books. When they're available, you just have to check them out and get them read. I've been waiting for this novel for a few months and my turn finally popped up. It was just what I needed this weekend before Thanksgiving. 

Jasmine Guillory has written a series of novels, and rapidly become quite popular. This is the fourth in the "series" ( I say that loosely because they all have characters that appear in each novel) which includes The Wedding Date, The Proposal, and The Wedding Party. I plan on reading all of them, too. 

This was a breath of fresh air for me, mostly because the two main characters are in their 50's. I know when I was much younger, I couldn't even think about romance and middle age. Yet here I am, firmly in middle age, and hot dang, guess what? Romance is alive and well, and not just for the younger crowd. I was delighted to read a romance about two people who have some history, have been there, done that, and are at a point in their lives where raising children isn't an issue. They know who they are, and having a relationship and finding love is all about the companionship and togetherness it brings. Yes, that is important and vital for younger relationships, but it really does become the most important thing when you're past the age of raising children and carving out a new career, and balancing all of it and growing together* (*my opinion based on my life!).

So. Vivian Forest and her daughter Maddie are going to England over the Christmas holiday. Maddie has been hired to help dress the Duchess over the holidays, and she's insisted that her mother come on the trip. Vivian, a social worker in San Francisco, is happy to go, since she always spends Christmas with her daughter, and didn't want to break the tradition. She does take a little convincing, however, because Christmas always includes her big family. But a much needed break is just what she needs to prepare herself for an upcoming possible big promotion, which will mean a lot more work for her. 

Vivian and Maddie arrive at the grounds of Sandringham Castle, and stay at the home of the Duke and Duchess. It's quite the lush life, and Vivian quickly makes friends with the staff. She also meets Malcolm Hudson, the Queen's Secretary, and he catches her attention pretty quickly. There are very few people of color on the Queen's staff, and Malcolm's position is a very important one. Malcolm and Vivian hit it off immediately, and he finds ways to spend some time with her for the few days she's staying on the estate. The two of them have great conversation, and I enjoyed watching their attraction grow. It's a short time frame, but it seems pretty natural that yes, this could certainly happen. 

The romance moves to London after Christmas, with Vivian extending her stay for a few days to be with Malcolm to see the New Year arrive. But the obvious issue is the fact that they live 5,000 miles apart. Will this just be a holiday fling, or does it mean more? Is it worth the hard work it will take to see what their future holds? 

It's a romance, so rest assured there is a happy ending, but how they get there is interesting. I enjoyed the conversations between Vivian and Malcolm, and how they worked through issues--sometimes not right away, and sometimes it took hurt feelings to bring issues forward. 

I've read some reviews of this novel, and some reviewers found it "boring" and the characters flat. I didn't feel that way at all. It was a quick read, and a fine kick off to my holiday reading binge. And I discovered a delightful author. A win-win for me. 

I don't believe you need to read the three other novels before you read this one, but if you like to read novels in order, have at it. I'll go back and start from the beginning, but I don't feel I missed anything starting at the end.

Rating: 4/6 for a novel that delivers on the holiday romance theme. I appreciated reading a romance between middle-aged characters who weren't perfect, and yes, even moody sometimes. I was cheering Vivian and Malcolm on the whole way. 

Available in hardcover, ebook, and audio. 

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