Review: Three Christmas Book Reviews (The Christmas Wish, Christmas at the Chalet, Cupcakes for Christmas)

A trio of reviews follows… Merry Christmas!

The Christmas Wish is a story of new beginnings. When Esme’s finds she can’t take her grandmother on a trip of a lifetime to see the Northern Lights in Lapland, Esme goes alone. Loved the quirky trip-mates, the little obstacles Esme overcomes to find herself again, and Esme’s newfound friendships, bound under snowflakes and starry skies.

Buy THE CHRISTMAS WISH

Cupcakes for Christmas is ostensibly about a baker, her shop, and a new special someone who comes in to buy cupcakes. But really it’s about the fear of loneliness and sadness that may drape over people during the holidays. While the story wasn’t a sad one, we see through Olivia’s eyes the challenges that Christmas brings for some. We also see how acceptance, love, and the Christmas spirit can help bridge the gap between two lonely hearts.

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Ever wanted to spend Christmas at a chalet? Here’s your chance. Anita Hughes transports you to the land of snow and apres-ski in the Swiss Alps. Wedding gown designer Felicity, her assistants, and her models spend a week among the jet set in St Moritz – and you’re along for the ride. This is a fun, superficial, exciting, bright read. I loved the snowy settings, the wedding gowns, and the glitz and glamour on the slopes. I didn’t love all the reminiscing and flashbacks, but I did like the side story of re-uniting a bride’s parents.

Buy CHRISTMAS AT THE CHALET

-calliope

Review: California Summer by Anita Hughes

I love a good starting-over story. In California Summer, Rosie doesn’t have much of a choice. Her Hollywood life fell apart and she ended up in Montecito – uncertain of her future. But, a mother figure/ butler friend/ bff/ neighborhood guy later, and Rosie’s on her way back up. Question is, does she want to go back to the fast lane, or does she want to settle in to Montecito life with the ones she loves?

I loved every fish taco, every Estelle dinner party, and every rose garden chat. Anita Hughes rocked the luxuriousness, as usual, and threw in some pop stars and surfers for good measure. The plot twist was perfect – completely believable and not overdone – and endeared me to Rosie’s boyfriend even more.

The only shortcomings of this novel were that Rosie had two very annoying habits: 1- wearing the same red, full length cocktail dress randomly and to every gathering under the sun, whether it was appropriate or not, and 2- Rosie ran and hid like a toddler from any uncomfortable situation. I just wanted her to get a new dress and grow a set!

Apart from those two things, I liked all the characters, even spoiled Angelica and Hollywood agent Ryan. Hughes did a great job rounding out character development and writing someone for every reader to identify with. My favorite parts were meeting Esmerelda through Rosie’s eyes, and watching Rosie finally grow up.

-calliope

Buy CALIFORNIA SUMMER

Review: Christmas in London by Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes writes for the reader who wants to escape. No matter if you’re reading Hughes’ beach vacation novels or her holiday books, you’ll remove yourself from reality, suspend your disbelief, and enjoy a ride through luxury. 

In Christmas in London, baker Louisa gets whisked away to London by television show producer Noah. She and her cinnamon rolls are needed for filming a Christmas special with a handsome, charming, world-famous chef and cookbook writer. 

When I read Hughes, I just latch on to the main character and forget my real life. In London, I got to wake up to the smell of coffee and pastry, buy fancy new clothes, take walks with the cutie pie producer, take cooking classes with the famous chef (and hang out in a mansion with him), and live the tv star life for a week… not to mention get a happily ever after (and watch a new friend get one too).

Not a bad way to spend 288 pages.  

-calliope 

Buy CHRISTMAS IN LONDON

Review: Emerald Coast by Anita Hughes


Love the luxuriousness and glamour that this book exudes – like Hughes’ others. Lily and Oliver were a cute couple, even divorced, so I enjoyed their banter and rapport. 

Unfortunately, Emerald Coast was a little too predictable even for me, and I wasn’t a fan of the cliched reasons why Angela and Ricky were looking for a mate. I’ll always love Anita Hughes for her rich descriptions, beautiful writing, and memorable scenery. I just wasn’t cut out for the plot of this particular story.

-calliope 

Buy EMERALD COAST

Review: White Sand, Blue Sea by Anita Hughes 

Anita Hughes does it again – takes me on a luxurious vacation where ladies drip with diamonds, succulent dinners abound, and you can almost taste the salt of the sea. 

Olivia and Finn vacation in St. Bart’s with Olivia’s mom and step dad… and Olivia hopes Finn will finally propose. But the love story is just part of the plot. There’s Sebastian, the long-absent father making an insincere attempt at redeeming himself, Felix the stepdad, trying to be perfect for everyone, and Hadley the mom, a little bit jaded and disappointed about the way her golden years are turning out. 

Hughes did a great job with the characters of Olivia, Hadley and Sebastian. It was harder to get to know the others, but I don’t know that character development mattered too much in this story. I like to read Hughes because she whisks me away from real life — April showers, bills to pay, and a house to clean – into the luxury of a fancy vacation. Reading Hughes, I get to virtually stay in the best villas, go to the best beaches, wear the most expensive cocktail dresses, and eat the fanciest food. 

I’ll take that escape any day. 

-calliope

Buy WHITE SAND, BLUE SEA

Review: Christmas in Paris by Anita Hughes


This is how you know we muses (and Pegasus) post honest, unbiased reviews, folks: 

There I was reading this lovely story, not remembering the title or author, but impressed with the writing and basking in extravagant descriptions of Parisian food, shopping, and architecture. I thought, “Wow, this book reminds me of Anita Hughes’ novels. Everything is so luxurious and magical. The romance is subtle, slow, and authentic.” 

And I kept reading, enjoying the serendipitous meetings of Isabel and Alec. Balconies, cobblestones, gardens, restaurants. I loved the magic of the fortune teller and her adorable daughter. Mathieu was the PERFECT wingman, and Bettina the perfect wicked stepsister. 

I just couldn’t get enough. 

After a satisfying happily ever after I finally checked the title and author. 

Christmas in Paris. Anita Hughes. BOOM. 

Mais, oui, I should have known. 

-calliope

Buy CHRISTMAS IN PARIS

Review: Santorini Sunsets by Anita Hughes


Brigit is preparing for her dream wedding … to a dream guy. Blake may have come from modest beginnings but he’s rich and famous now. And he gets along well with Brigit’s family (but maybe too well).  

As Brigit, Blake and their families wrap up the last weeks of planning in picturesque Santorini, Greece, Brigit’s broody ex-husband shows up. 

Nathaniel still loves Brigit, but she’s pretty focused on Blake. I liked that Brigit stayed true to herself the whole time. She didn’t sell out or lie or betray. And neither did Blake and Nathaniel. Hughes wrote some terrific characters that didn’t compromise their own values. Each man and woman acted authentically, and the chips fell where they may.  

As always with Hughes’ exotically set novels, she richly describes landscape, sea, people, food, and clothing.  Reading Santorini was luxurious and satisfying, right up through the happily ever after. 

-calliope

Buy SANTORINI SUNSETS