Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Review of The Holiday Swap by Zara Stonely

The bit on the back…

Two women, two very different lives – one perfect solution to a Christmas holiday fraught with potential pitfalls.

The Holiday Swap.

Florence Cortes has the perfect life – an apartment in the trendiest district of Barcelona, a job she loves and a boyfriend who’s whisking her away on a romantic break to Paris to no doubt propose.
Only, he’s planning something far different, and Flo soon realises her life isn’t so perfect after all.
Home loving Daisy Fischer is perfectly happy in her idyllic home in the Cheshire countryside, with an on-off boyfriend who might be slightly dull but is totally dependable. Until he issues an ultimatum, and Daisy suddenly realises that there might be a whole different world out there that she’s missing out on.

Have Flo and Daisy come up with the perfect solution to escape festive heartbreak?
Can a snowbound Christmas in Cheshire – with aristocratic, handsome Hugo as her neighbour, a house full of animals and a leaking roof – help Flo mend her broken heart, and remind her of what she really wants in life?

Can a sunny break in beautiful Barcelona – with the dishy but brooding Javier, a never ending supply of cava, and a sea view to die for – prove to Daisy that playing safe isn’t always the answer?
Love actually does seem to be all around this Christmas – and in the places Flo and Daisy least expect to find it, but where will they be for New Year?

Firstly thank you to Harper Impulse for a review copy of this title via Netgalley. I’d never read anything by Zara before however I’d seen nothing but rave reviews on Twitter so I knew I was in for a treat.

This is a festive novel with a Spanish twist. Friends Flo and Daisy are both at turning points in their love lives and with they come up with a bit of a life swap to give each of them some space from their day to day lives. While Daisy jets off to Barcelona and decides to stick around for a while Flo returns to Daisy’s Cheshire home to look after all of her animals.

I really liked that half of this story was set in Barcelona. I’ve been fortunate enough to be there for a day at the end of a holiday and it’s somewhere I’d love to go back to. Living vicariously through Daisy was great and as Daisy was a Barcelona virgin it was easy to get swept up in that touristy feel.  If you’ve been to Barcelona before you will be able to imagine yourself back there and as Daisy becomes more acquainted with it she settles right in and right into a friendship with Flo’s handsome friend Javier. Javier is the antithesis of the boyfriend Daisy left behind while she set off to find herself and the connection between them both is immediate.

Flo on the other hand heads back to Cheshire where she grew up as a young girl. Taking over for Daisy at home means mucking in and looking after Daisy’s various animals but also coming into contact with her neighbour Hugo. At first I was a bit unsure of Hugo especially from Daisy’s point of view he was very arrogant and basically up his own arse. Flo, though, gets treated to a different side of Hugo and his character completely transforms in her company.

The story is well written and although it’s only set over a short period of time it didn’t feel rushed and it didn’t feel like any element of the progression was missing. Zara painted just as vivid a picture of Barcelona as she did of Cheshire and I could easily imagine myself in either place. I will definitely be reading more from Zara in the future.

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