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  • Hannah Fielding - Romance Novelist

From the blurb:

A Christmas Hope is… the gripping story of an unforgettable battle between goodness and evil in Victorian London—and a lonely woman’s search for meaning in her life.

Claudine Burroughs, a volunteer in Hester Monk’s clinic for sick and injured prostitutes, no longer expects closeness with her coldly ambitious husband and dreads the holidays. Then, at a glittering yuletide gala, she meets the attractive poet Dai Tregarron and suddenly her spirits lift. Alas, an hour later, this fascinating man is enmeshed in a nightmare—accused of killing a young streetwalker who had been smuggled into the party.

Even though she suspects that an upper-class clique is quickly closing ranks to protect the real killer, Claudine and the clinic’s disreputable bookkeeper, Squeaky Robinson, vow to do their utmost for Dai. But it seems that hypocritical London society would rather send an innocent poet to the gallows than expose the shocking truth about one of their own.

Nevertheless, it’s the season of miracles and Claudine and Squeaky finally see a glimmer of hope—not only for Dai but for an innocent young woman teetering on the brink of a lifetime of unhappiness. Anne Perry’s heartwarming new holiday novel is a celebration of courage, faith, and love for all seasons.

In the lead-up to Christmas, I decided to review some seasonal books this year, and I chose this one easily from the selection on NetGalley because I love the setting and the era in which it is set, and the cover drew me in.

I found this to be a jolly (forgive the pun) good read. It’s not overtly ‘a Christmas book’, but in fact one you could read at any time of year; but the themes of redemption and compassion sit very well at this time of year. I found myself, as I read, thinking a little of books like Dickens’ A Christmas Carol for the setting and morals coming forth – a wonderful way to get into the festive spirit.

The heroine, Claudine, is eminently likable – but romantic that I am, I yearned for some resolution to her unhappy marriage (at one point, I half-convinced myself she could walk off into the sunset with Dai, but the more I read of his womanising and drinking, the more I had to let go of that!). She’s feisty and wonderfully courageous for the era, and I love her tenacity in sticking to her principles and ensuring that justice is done.

For me, though, the standout character is Squeaky Robinson (such  a fabulous name!), who is from a very different class to Claudine but is indisputably a good man. Together with Claudine’s work at the clinic with women of ill repute, Squeaky’s character really grounds the book, so that it’s not one-dimensional, following Society ladies and gents around, but is rooted in the reality of the times.

I very much liked what I saw of the character of Dai as well – particularly his poetic dialogue at the beginning, and I’d have liked to have seen more of him. Perhaps in another book?

Overall, a well-paced, interesting read that keeps you on your toes throughout and leaves you with that ‘all’s right in the world’ feeling at the end – a great addition to your festive ‘to read’ list.

I was offered this book in exchange for a fair review via NetGalley.

A Christmas Hope is available now from Amazon; click on the book cover below to visit the store.

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