Daisy has attended Uncle Terence’s Christmas parties for as long as she can remember. But this year, after losing both her boyfriend and her job, she’s especially looking forward to the distraction. Terence’s parties are legendary shindigs, filled with fun and family—and even better for book-obsessed Daisy, they’re hosted in his bookshop. Unfortunately, this year Ollie, son of her mother’s best friend, is also attending. Growing up, they had a rivalry for years, but now everyone seems to prattle on about how successful and accomplished he is. But after Daisy sees him for the first time in thirteen years, she just might understand what all the fuss is about.
Author Zara Stoneley just might be the master of simmering feelings. Daisy and Ollie might not have seen each other in years, but the second they’re reintroduced a spark is evident. Could it just be a friendship rekindling after a long break? Or is something deeper forming between them? As the two are wedged together with the help of some familial forces, it’s pure joy reading about them bounding through adventures and, eventually, reaching their own conclusions.
But beyond the potential romance rests the heart of the story: Daisy herself. Right at the beginning, she’s struggling with a major crisis of identity culminating in feeling lost and confused about the direction of her life. However, Stoneley expertly pushes the plot across four different Christmas seasons and the events leading up to them, and the result is a Daisy that has a long time to grow and evolve into herself. There are no quick solutions, and it’s incredibly engrossing to watch her naturally progress from unsure and somewhat insecure to going after what constitutes a happy ending for herself.
Helping her along the way is an outstanding cast of characters. With four Christmases to contend with, there are plenty of festive folks around headed by Uncle Terence. With sage advice doled out at just the right moment, he provides a hint of magic to the proceedings. And then there are a cadre of friends, family, and even a few unsavory lingerers that amp up just enough tension and drama to keep things bouncing along.
Ultimately, Four Christmases and a Secret delivers a rewarding romance that still manages an emotional punch.
Title: Four Christmases and a Secret
Author: Zara Stoneley
Publisher: One More Chapter
Publication Date: September 27, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through NetGalley.