Review published on September 7, 2017.
Karen Swan is a good story teller and knows how to get the reader involved. We have the usual scenario here of two people meeting, disliking each other and going through various misunderstandings before realising how attracted they are to each other. The rather different twist to this story is that Alex is a coach and advisor to executives in top companies and Lochlan, who at first appears to be an arrogant and egotistical bully, is the CEO of a whisky distillery.
The Scottish setting is made the most of and I also enjoyed the management issues of the board members who have very different aims for the future of the company. Occasional chapters are from the end of WW1 when an American troop ship was torpedoed and some survivors made it to this island where the distillery is based and this turns out to have a bearing on the present-day concerns.
The main issue I had with this novel though was that I couldn’t really believe that a 31-year-old woman who seems rather more concerned about her designer clothes would be coaching the top men of major companies. And when we get the detail of some of her coaching sessions full of management speak and psychological jargon it becomes even more unlikely. I found it hard to empathise with Alex even when the background to her behaviour is revealed at the end. I would also have liked a lot more about the 1918 tragedy and love story. If this had replaced the details about making whisky, salmon fishing and management jargon, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. However, it certainly kept me turning the pages and wanting to know what would happen.
Berwyn Peet 3/3
The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan
Pan 9781509838059 pbk Nov 2017
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