Carmen Hogan is nearly 30, boyfriend-less, and still working in the department store she’d started in during high school. She feels like a failure compared to her older sister Sofia, an Edinburgh lawyer with a handsome international-lawyer husband, 3 children and a fourth on the way in a month, a lovely house, a Range Rover, and a nanny.
When the department store closes, Carmen has to move back in with her parents and try to find another job, which is difficult to do in her dying west-coast Scottish town. Sofia has a client that needs help in his dying bookstore in Edinburgh, and convinces Carmen to move there and become Mr. McCredie’s shop assistant, just until they could find a buyer for the shop. Carmen could stay in Sofia’s basement bedroom, and would also help babysit on the nights the nanny, Skylar, had to go take classes.
When Carmen arrives at the shop, it is a dusty, disorganized mess. Carmen’s old boss, Mrs. Marsh, now residing in Edinburgh, stops by and gives Carmen some advice in her imperious manner, admonishing her to clean up the shop, get to know the stock, and take advantage of the coming Christmas holiday. She reluctantly complies.
Through her work in the shop, Carmen meets two vastly different men who develop an interest in her: internationally famous self-help author Blair Pfenning, and local dendrologist (tree expert) Oke Benezet.
As Carmen warms to her role, she gets to know and love the customers, other shopkeepers on Victoria Street, and even Sofia’s kids, whom she had initially dismissed as noisy and bratty. In fact, she later tells Sofia’s daughter Phoebe, she had never liked any children at all before. But of course, all that changes….
Evaluation: This lovely feel-good Christmas story will melt your heart. It is full of Colgan’s trademark snarky and self-deprecating humor, but filtered through the gauzy, snowy glitter of Christmas. There’s even a hint of magic, although it might just be another way to show how love works. It is also a love letter to sisters, to Edinburgh, and a celebration of joy and friendship. Admittedly, it doesn’t take much to make me want to go back to Edinburgh, but this book definitely added to that desire!
Published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins, 2021