My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Time taken to read - in and out over 9 days (busy December)
Pages - 432
Publisher - Orion
Source - Bought
Blurb from Goodreads
In a picturesque town in Derbyshire, Merry has always wanted a family to spend Christmas with, and this year her dream comes true as she says 'I do' to father-of-two Cole. But as she juggles worries about her business, last-minute wedding planning and the two new children in her life, Merry is stretched to breaking point.
Meanwhile, only a few miles away, Emily is desperately waiting for the New Year to begin. Her father Ray's dementia is worsening, and she's struggling to care for him alone while holding down a job. When Ray moves into a residential home, she discovers a photograph in his belongings that has the potential to change everything .
As shocking secrets from Ray's past finally come to light, will this Christmas make or break Emily and Merry?
So this is marked as a standalone but Merry I am sure was in the other book I read by this author and her partner. We alternate between Merry and Emily. Merry's candle business is successful, in fact branching out so well she really needs to look to more staff but it is her baby and she is reluctant to let go. Everything is coming together great however planning a wedding, stretching herself thin with the business and concerns with her soon to be step children is causing Merry stress. Emily has a selfish boyfriend, I mean the guy is an absolute horror bag and her dad is getting more forgetful, confused and wandering more. Emily has the absolute guilt on what is best to do for her dad but with his condition worsening and the impact it is having on her job/personal life and health - stuck between a rock and a hard place.
We follow the two ladies as they navigate between their own personal issues, I really felt for Emily although with the boyfriend interactions I was near screaming at the book. Honestly a repugnant and vile individual. Emily's dad, the dementia/scenes are very emotive and heart breaking at some points.
The book is a cozy read with some emotive themes, friendship, blended families, wedding planning, stress, dementia, secrets, love & loss. It is a mixed bag, if you want to just escape from your own world for a wee bit this is a good shout. I need to look at her other books to see if these characters are in other despite being standalones, 4/5. I got this on a bargain buy special offer (I got a few copies for my blind dates with a book for my workies too).