With this sadness and then hearing about the terrible events at the school in Connecticut, I was feeling a little blue. I'd just read a grisly crime novel and needed a story that was going to make me smile and bring back a little seasonal cheer.
Milly Johnson - of course! My lovely friend Lainy who blogs here gave me a copy of A Winter Flame for my birthday and I just knew that this was going to be the perfect book to lift my spirits.
Eve hates Christmas. As a child she spent her Christmas wondering if there would be any food in the house, would she get a present, and which of her Mother's boyfriends would be on the scene. If it wasn't for her Aunt Susan and cousin Violet, Eve would probably never have received anything. Christmas did not get any better as an adult, five years ago Eve's fiance was killed in action in Afghanistan on Christmas Day. Is there any wonder that she would like nothing to do with December at all?
When Eve inherits a Christmas-themed amusement park from her elderly Aunt, she is amazed, she had no idea that Aunt Evelyn had any interests other than Mr Kipling cakes, her two cats and her growing collection of strange Christmas decorations. She is even more shocked and amazed when she learns that Aunt Evelyn has left half of the park to a mysterious stranger - just who is Jacques Glace and where did he come from?
Milly Johnson has that amazing gift of writing stories that can make you smile through your tears. She has created an extraordinary world on the outskirts of Barnsley that is full of magic, yet still has her down-to-earth stamp on it. I sighed as Eve tried her best to ignore the wonderful Jacques, I wanted to grab her and shake her and make her see what was under her nose. I chuckled as I read about the park's transformation into a winter wonderland - overseen by the wonderful character that is Effin - assisted by his crew of Welsh and Polish workers. I wanted to boo and hiss when introduced to Eve and Violet's Grandmother - possibly the nastiest piece of work since Snow White's step-mother.
I love the good old Northern humour, the reality alongside the magic and the little snippets from The Daily Trumpet are wonderful.
A Winter Flame made me smile again, it's like a big huge cuddle in a book, that wrapped me up and sent me on my way feeling as though I'd made some new friends.
A Winter Flame was published by Simon & Schuster earlier this year. Milly Johnson has a web site here, and you can follow her on Twitter here.