After aptly named Viola Smith, a professional viola musician, volunteers to manage the music for a nativity play at a local school, she comes in ready to tackle it head-on. After all, how hard can it be? Unfortunately, she soon realizes the school needs a lot more than accompaniment—things like costumes and makeup … a cast … a script. While the prospect of producing anything initially seems daunting, she soon works out a plan with Nate Williams, one of her new pupil’s father, to get things sorted out. However, the more they work together, the closer they get—sometimes against their best wishes. As opening night draws nearer, the two must face their feelings if they ever want to make it to a successful curtain call.
Viola has spent much of her life always trying to please everyone around her. When her family needs anything—anything—Viola gets the first call. And so, while others might be petrified of tackling an entire nativity almost single-handedly, she lets out an internal scream and charges ahead. Fortunately, author Jules Wake has instilled in her captivating charm, a brilliant sense of humor, and the brains to always somehow pull the impossible together. It’s not that everything she does is effortless. She has plenty of messy and tumultuous situations, and she struggles with not letting everyone walk all over her. The result is a character who feels real and who, in turn, is the perfect guide through Notting Hill.
It’s also this need to never let anyone down that sets the stage for romance and a bit of drama. Viola is tossed together with Nate, a totally charming and complicated man, and there are immediately sparks between them. She’s disappointed to discover that he’s married, but Wake knows how to spin complex storylines. So of course, Nate and his wife are actually separated. There’s a constant battle of whether the two should become involved, and Wake’s success is making them seem like the perfect pair with one caveat: while their feelings are real, acting on them is in limbo. Wake writes to tug at the heartstrings, and she’s more than successful.
Of course, this makes it sounds like a high-drama romance. While there’s plenty of tension and tenderness, Notting Hill in the Snow is also deeply funny. Viola might have been able to move past Nate, but she could never leave his daughter, Grace. Frozen-obsessed and occasionally wicked, she’s the cuteness factor holding everything together. Wake knows how to write children, and there are no overly saccharine displays. Just like every other character, she’s is fully realized person. And there are plenty of opportunities for her to make a star turn, whether during rocky rehearsals or when sharing a private moment with Viola.
Ultimately, Jules Wake has managed a book both perfectly romantic and human. One that doesn’t shy away from pain and how complicated love can really be. Perhaps more impressively, she’s crafted characters who linger long after The End.
Title: Notting Hill in the Snow
Author: Jules Wake
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: October 11, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.