Title: The Christmas Party
Author: Carole Matthews
Publisher: Sphere (Little, Brown Book Group)
Publication Date: 7 August 2014 (ePub) and 23 October 2014 (paperback)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Louise Young is a devoted single mother whose only priority is providing for her daughter, Mia. Louise has a good job in a huge international corporation and she’s grateful for it. The only problem is her boss who can’t keep his hands to himself, but Louise can handle him. What she really doesn’t have time for is romance – until she meets the company’s rising star, Josh Wallace.
Louise usually says no to evenings out but she’s decided to let her hair down tonight. It’s the office Christmas party, she has a pretty dress to wear and she’s looking forward to some champagne and fun. She’s completely unaware that others around her are too busy playing dangerous games to enjoy the party – until she’s pulled into those games herself . . .
Romance is in the air and secrets are about to be uncovered. It’s going to be a night to remember at The Christmas Party.
The Christmas Party is actually Carole Matthew’s 2014 Christmas release and is the story of the both the run up to and the actual event for Fossil Oil Corporation’s annual Christmas party.
Taking place at a swanky Wadestone Manor, a large stately home, the party is going to be a lavish affair with an open bar and a lot of dancing. As expected from a company Christmas do, this promises to be a showy and memorable night for the staff involved, in more ways that imagined…
Louise Young works as a PA to the slimy Tyler Benson. There are rumours as to the dismissal of his last PA and Louise can believe those rumours were true. Her boss is constantly touching or brushing against her in a fashion befitting a ‘Carry On’ movie, but as the new girl, who would believe her? She needs to keep her job for the sake of her young daughter, Mia. Surely she should be able to handle Tyler herself?
Josh Wallace is Tyler’s right-hand man and one of Fossil Oil’s hottest employees. Ruggedly handsome, successful and single – an irresistible combination for many women and the total opposite of Louise’s flaky ex-boyfriend.
Kirsten is Tyler’s long-suffering wife. Dreading the Christmas party but obliged to make an appearance as part of her wifely duties. After years of following Tyler around the world, Kirsten is desperate to settle down in a place she can call home, yet Tyler seems oblivious to the fact that their marriage is on the brink of collapse.
Lance Harvey is Fossil Oil’s top executive in the UK. Fossil Oil is his life and, despite reaching 66 years of age, retirement is simply not an option. He is determined to keep going until forced out.
Melissa, Lance’s wife, wants Lance to retire. She is trapped by his side in London, waiting whilst he works. It feels like a life without meaning. She wants to take some time to enjoy life, visit their grown-up sons, go on holiday etc…
Matthews has created a diverse group of characters. I must admit that my interest in Louise and Josh’s storyline was more immediate than in that of the executives’ wives. I enjoyed the fledgling romance between Louise and Josh and quickly hoped that he would prove to be the knight-in-shining-armour that she so deeply deserves. However, as each storyline became more developed, I found my interest in the less immediately likeable characters of Melissa and Kirsten gradually developing. Despite their monetary wealth, neither Kirsten or Melissa are happy in their marriages and both feel that life is passing them by. Matthews has humanised these characters and created real struggles that I could not help but sympathise with. As the saying goes, money really can’t buy happiness.
As the party gets underway, the evening starts to fizz with free champagne, unexpected announcements and the possibility of romance. This year’s Christmas party threatens to be an explosive event!
I initially found the story to be a little slow-going whilst it set the scene and it took me a few chapters to find my feet. This was as the characters were introduced in the first 4 chapters. However, Carole Matthews certainly knows how to tell a story and by chapter 5 I was gripped.
The evening progresses and the alcohol flows, inhibitions are lowered and tensions expand and escalate into a truly unforgettable Christmas party for the staff at Fossil Oil.
A sign of a good book is when you still think about the story/characters after the book has ended and, in this case, I did continue to think about them for a while afterwards. This is probably, in part, due to the somewhat bittersweet ending to the tale. I couldn’t help but think about how their lives could have ended up if different choices were made along the way.
The Christmas Party is not your typically sweet and cheesy Christmas read, this is a book about manipulation, power and career plays. A dark tale of secrets, deceptions and infidelity. However, it does still have the traditional lighter-hearted elements of decorations, food, alcohol, romance and friendship that a reader looks for in a festive tale. The Christmas Party is a reminder that it’s never too late to make a few changes and to start making the most out of your life.
The Christmas Party truly is a night to remember!
About the Author
Carole Matthews is the Sunday Times bestselling author of twenty-seven novels, including the Top Ten bestsellers A Cottage by the Sea, Calling Mrs Christmas, The Christmas Party and The Cake Shop in the Garden.
In 2013, Summer Daydreams was shortlisted for the Melissa Nathan award for Fiction about Life and Love. Carole was also shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Association Romantic Comedy RoNA in 2012 and inducted into the Reader Hall of Fame by the inaugural Festival of Romance. Her novels dazzle and delight readers all over the world. She was given an award for Outstanding Achievement by the Romantic Novelists’ Association in 2015.
She is published in more than thirty countries and her books have sold to Hollywood.