Today it is my great pleasure to be taking part in the blog tour for A Winter Beneath the Stars by Jo Thomas. My thanks to publishers Headline who provided an advance copy for review and to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part. Here is what the book is about:
Escape to snowy Sweden this Christmas in the gorgeous new novel from the author of The Oyster Catcher. Fans of Jill Mansell and Milly Johnson will love this unforgettable winter story from Jo Thomas.
Halley has been running from her problems for years.
On a courier trip to Tallfors, deep in Swedish Lapland, everything is going to plan. Halley has her bag, with two precious wedding rings inside for delivery… until she doesn’t.
The only way to save the wedding is to team up with mysterious reindeer herder Bjorn, the one person who can lead her across the snowy tundra to be reunited with her bag.
On a journey of a lifetime beneath the stars, with only the reindeer and a bad-tempered stranger for company beside the fire, Halley realises that she will need to confront her past heartaches in order to let the warmth of love in once more…
Oh I do love me a good winter romance novel, and A Winter Beneath the Stars is a very good winter romance novel. In this wonderful new story from Jo Thomas we meet Halley, an international courier whose job it is to escort high value items around Europe until they find their new owner. Her dream is to bag one of the long haul runs and she wants to use this latest trip to Lapland to secure her place. The intended owners are personal family friends of her boss – the job a sure fire hit. Until there is a big baggage mix up and her bag ends up in the hands of a complete stranger.
What follows is Halley’s attempt to reunite herself with her bag, and the all important cargo, and get them to their final destination. This takes Halley on an unexpected trip across Sweden, accompanying a strange and gruff man she knows only as Bjorn, a trip which sees her learn many new things – mostly about herself.
Now there is a touch of inevitability about the course plotted in this book – and I don’t just mean the course that Bjorn and Halley take to get Bjorn’s reindeer safely back to his family farm from their grazing grounds in the north. This is a romantic novel after all and the instant crossed purposes between the pair we know hides a certain amount of attraction. There is just one slight problem. Well two actually. Halley is married although she is somewhat reticent to share the full details of her personal life, and Bjorn isn’t being entirely honest about who he is either. We, as readers, know more about Bjorn than Halley, making his deception intriguingly tempting as we are privy to both this thoughts and Halley’s throughout the book. Halley’s story takes a little longer to come to light and it drip few to readers with each new chapter. They do make a delicious couple though and the more they appear to disagree, the more you can see the chemistry developing.
What I loved about this book is that it takes both the protagonists and the reader on a journey – physical and metaphysical – as we all experience the changing landscape of Sweden and the highs and lows of their travels. Halley has to learn quickly as she tries to lead first a pack of dogs and then a surly old reindeer, Rocky, over snow fields, through woodland and across a frozen lake in order to reach their destination. She experiences things she never expected and comes to learn the importance of living off the land and respecting both the environment and those who live in it. I loved the descriptions of not only the landscape but the animals, each dog and reindeer with their own personality and some very cool names. I mean – who can resist a Husky called Lucas?
Bjorn may come across as a gruff character but he is wounded himself, uncertain and lost after his whole life has changed. Halley is in a similar boat (or sled to be more precise) and needs Bjorn’s guidance and understanding in order to finally be free of her own demons. They are two very likeable characters and their stories draw you in. Then you have the slightly nuts concierge, Lars who has taken a shine to Halley and declared her his fate, and even the Bride, Pru’s, Nan who shows how important it is to live life to the full no matter what your age. She seems to take a shine to Bjorn, showing Halley a bit if what she is missing by being so aloof and reluctant.
This book is fun, romantic and poignant, full of moments of comedy, moments that will move you and even a few moments that will have you holding your breath as the trip across Sweden takes a dangerous turn. It is littered with misunderstandings and missed opportunities. Most of all, it is a story that reminds us that sometimes it pays to let go of the past and just take a few risks. Sometimes they work out far better than we could have ever dreamed. A fabulously romantic read. With Reindeer. And Huskies! I loved it.
If you’d like a copy of A Winter Beneath the Stars for yourself, you can find it at the following retailers:
About the Author
Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, first for BBCRadio 5, before moving on to Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show. In 2013 Jo won the RNA Katie Fforde Bursary. Her debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller in ebook and was awarded the 2014 RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the 2014 Festival of Romance Best Ebook Award. Jo lives in the Vale of Glamorgan with her husband and three children.
Author Links: Twitter