Two Last Christmas Reads

I don’t usually read holiday-themed books around Christmas, but I think this year I was looking for plenty of comfort reads and found those in books with a Christmas-y theme. The final two I read were Royal Holiday by Jasmine Guillory and Murder on a Midnight Clear by Sara Rosett.

Reading Royal Holiday is like being wrapped in a warm hug. Vivian Forest’s daughter Maddie (the main character in a previous Guillory novel) fills in for a British duchess’s stylist over Christmas, and she brings her mom along on the trip. They stay at Sandringham (!!!) in the duke and duchess’s cottage. As you might imagine, the book features plenty of tea, scones, and other cozy British things, but more importantly, Vivian meets the Queen’s private secretary, who is of course handsome and delightful.

There is very little conflict; just a bit over what to do when Vivian and Maddie have to return to the U.S. after their holiday. At the same time, though, like all of Guillory’s books, it is well-written, and and I especially appreciated her portrayal of a romance involving two 50+ characters without the least bit of patronizing. If you’re looking to read a book that will just put you in a good mood and give you happy thoughts, this is the one.

Murder on a Midnight Clear is, obviously, a mystery novel, one set in 1920s Britain among the upper class. It’s part of a series, and I haven’t read any of the others. Olive is an amateur detective, and her boyfriend, Jasper, is a spy of sorts (not a spoiler–you can pretty much grasp this in the first chapter). They wind up at a country house together, snowed in for Christmas, and investigate both the death of the butler (gotta have a butler in the story) and some spy stuff Jasper is involved in.

The book got off to a rough start for me–I’ve read a lot of P.G. Wodehouse, and the dialogue seemed like a poor imitation of that, with lots of awkward “old bean”-type talk. I almost put it down but kept on, and I did enjoy the plot very much. The spy bit kid of tailed off, but the murder mystery had plenty of interesting twists and turns. I can’t say I would read more in this series, though. Olive and Jasper never really captured my imagination–I have no particular interest in what happens to them in the future. They never felt real, or as if they had individual personalities. It’s a quick read, and not a bad one, but definitely not in my top-books list for 2020.

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