ARC Review: The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge

I received and Advanced Readers Copy of The Winter We Met by Samantha Tonge for my fair and honest opinion. The book will be released October 8, 2020.

From the publisher: When charming, mysterious Nik sits next to Jess on a plane home from a Christmas toy trade fair, she never could have imagined the impact he’d have on her life. As they touch down in London, Jess is hesitant to let Nik walk away, and before she knows it, she’s invited him to visit.

As the two take in the delights of the toy store where she works, Jess gets an upsetting phone call. Willow Court, her Grandmother’s care home, is to close before Christmas. Jess is determined to find the perfect new home for her Gran – and throw the best Christmas party Willow Court has ever seen!

But time is running out with the closure looming and Jess becomes increasingly drawn to enigmatic Nik who joins forces with her and best friend Oliver to realise those plans.

Will a chance encounter on an aeroplane bring love to Jess’s life or is this Christmas miracle too good to be true?”

I feel like I’m an Anglophile at heart. I don’t drink coffee, I drink tea, I adore the royal family and read everything I can about them, some of my favorite romance films are set in Britain like Love Actually, Notting Hill, and one I just got to see a couple of weeks ago, Last Christmas. So reading a British romance was a no-brainer.

The Winter We Met just about met all my expectations of British lifestyle, especially from the food standpoint. Jess brings Nik to various eateries to enjoy stuff like bread pudding and kidney pie, stuff he does not get living in Australia. And let me tell you, there’s a lot of eating out, and descriptions of breakfasts, teas and dinners. And mixed drinks, too, lots of going out and drinking. I really want to try a Snowflake Martini after the description of it, and I’m a teetotaler! The Bargain Sleuth in my wants to know how these young single people can afford to eat out and go out for drinks so much and then I remember: they don’t have kids to drain the pocketbook. And maybe it’s cheaper to eat out in England than here in the United States.

What I really liked in this book was the amount of time spent talking about and doing things with Buddy the dog. I know it might seem trivial, but I don’t often read books where it is repeatedly mentioned that the characters took their dog for a walk. Sometimes a character might stroke the fur of a cat on a lap, but that’s it. Buddy is a character himself in this book.

I also like the face that The Winter When We Met spends a good deal of the book is spent at Willow Court, the assisted living facility where Jess’s grandmother lives. Willow Court’s owners are closing the facility, and all the residents need to find a place to live in a short amount of time. And they have to be out by Christmas. The residents are supporting characters in this love story, and they are delightful. Putting on a Christmas/goodbye party with the theme of It’s a Wonderful Life, just like the movie, is a stroke of genius on the part of the author.

I also liked the fact that when Jess and Nik are talking toys, they’re not always talking about technological gadgets. They focus on classics, educational toys, books, innovative toys, etc., just the things I try to focus on with my kids at Christmas.

From a romance standpoint, Nik seems to good to be true. He is too good to be true, rather like a Ken doll come-to-life. He’s tall, handsome, always says the right thing, he’s bright, witty, charitable, everything a sane woman would look for in a man. And Jess definitely is a sane woman. But I have to agree with Oliver, Jess’s flat mate. Something about the perfect Nik bugged me, the way it bugged Oliver. Nik has to be hiding something. Why is he 34 and still unmarried if he’s that great of a guy? That’s why I was happy with the romantic resolution in the book; it was what I was what I hoped for, and not unexpected, but still heartwarming.

If you need a book to kickstart your holiday season (and believe me, in 2020, the holiday season can’t come soon enough), The Winter We Met is a charming novel. Four out of five stars.

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