Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Book Review - The Heart of Winter by Emma Hannigan

Amazon UK
Title: The Heart of Winter
Author: Emma Hannigan
Format reviewed: Ebook
Source: Netgalley
Publisher: Headline
Publication Date: 22nd October 2015
Rating: 4 Stars

With the promise of December in the air and the hedgerows laced with frost, Huntersbrook House has never looked more beautiful.

Once the Craig family's beloved home, the house has been transformed into a magnificent countryside venue. And its first booking couldn't be more perfect - the Christmas wedding of a well-known film actress.

Yet, behind the scenes, the Craig children are feeling the chill. Pippa is skating on thin ice with her reckless personal life; Joey, preoccupied with the business, is blind to his fiancé's struggles. And Lainey's future is dealt a cruel blow.

As the wedding approaches, everyone hopes the house will weave its magic. But can the Craigs put their differences aside and pull together as a family once more?

The Heart of Winter sees us return to Huntersbrook House, setting of Driving Home for Christmas, and a return to the Craig family. Once again Huntersbrook House is the key to the book, but this time as a an events venue, and the book is set in the run up to Christmas. 

Although this is a sequel, that is set around 3 years after the original, it can definitely be read as a standalone. Enough relevant information is provided, but due to the huge range of character development between the two books, it may be recommended to read Driving Home For Christmas first, purely to really get a feel for the family.  

Almost everyone from the first book is back, with a couple of exceptions, 1 a lot more notable than the other (which isn't even referenced). My favourite character is still Pippa, the youngest sibling. She is unpredictable, fun loving and has a large amount of growing up to do. And this time she really does get herself into some sticky situations, which are tough for her to get out of. But at the bottom of it all she has a heart of gold, and even if she does need a bit of a wake up call, has her family's best interests at heart. 

Joey, who felt rather vulnerable and a bit of a fitness fanatic, has had what feels like a complete personality transplant and is more focused on his job and trying to become partner, and the growing of the Huntersbrook House business to pay attention to his girlfriend. It felt like a complete 180 degree turnaround and I felt I liked him less than I did as a result. 

Lainey is the oldest sibling and life has possibly changed more for her, than the others. She still has a rock relationship with her mother, Holly, but is now a mother of her own. However then a tragedy strikes Lainey and she has to learn to cope with a whole new reality. And its while Lainey is dealing with this, that leads to major changes in all manner of the relationships between Craig family members. 

Then there is Holly, the family matriarch, who just wants to spend more time with her grandson, and is as always excited about decorating for Christmas.

The perspective jumps around between Holly, Joey, Lainey and Pippa and occasionally some of the other characters but its always easy to know who we are focused on, as its the section heading. This allowed us to get up, close and personal with all of the Craig clan, and I love getting to know my characters really well, as it allows you to feel emotionally attached to them .

The Heart of Winter, was an excellent story and was highly enjoyable, I loved the setting in Ireland of Wicklow, and also Dublin, and Emma Hannigan is moving her way up my list of Irish Fiction writers that I love.  I am really hoping that this isn't the last we see of this fabulous family, or their handsome house. 

Thanks so much to Headline and Netgalley for this review copy. This was my honest opinion. 

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