Married by Christmas by Scarlett Bailey

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RATING: 3/5

BLURB: “All she wants is a perfect Christmas Eve wedding…it’s been on Anna’s wish-list since she was a little girl, dreaming of a far happier family life than she’d ever experienced. Only now – two weeks before her big day – her perfect husband-to-be drops a bombshell…But nothing’s going to stop Anna’s plans – not even the pesky inconvenience of discovering her groom already has a wife!”

REVIEW: I’ve been reading this book as a bit of light reading to counteract dissertation research and historical non-fiction, and I found it thoroughly entertaining. The novel tells the story of Anna, a woman who obsessively colour-codes, lists and organises even the most minor details of her life – as you can imagine, her wedding is meticulously planned, and the most important part of all of the wedding plans is that Anna is determined to have her wedding on Christmas Eve. Things take an unexpected turn when Anna, convinced that her fiance Tom is cheating on her, ropes her best friend and flatmate Liv (who has hidden feelings of her own for Tom) into coming with her to spy on him. What she discovers, however, isn’t a recent affair; it is one long past. Tom admits that he is still married to a stripper he wed in a bar while drunk in Las Vegas, but their relationship ended abruptly with her departure to New York and his subsequent return to England. Determined not to miss out on her Christmas wedding fantasy, Anna decides to take matters into her own hands and fly to New York herself with the divorce papers. It is at this point in the novel, however, that the story becomes more predictable when Anna meets Miles on the plane journey to New York. Miles is an old acquaintance whom Anna hasn’t seen since they had a disastrous blind date eight years before, but as the two follow their separate courses in New York, both determined to achieve very different dreams, they find themselves relying on each other for support, guidance and friendship in a way that soon blossoms into much stronger feelings. Meanwhile, left in charge of Anna’s wedding, Liv is struggling herself with her feelings for Tom, feelings that she is finding more and more difficult to hide. I will not reveal any more of the story, and will leave it for you to find out how this tangled web of affections is resolved in the end, but I am pleased to say that, unlike so many ‘chick-lit’ books, the ending was not apparent from the very beginning, and took some thorough working out. Bailey writes in a witty, heartwarming and entertaining manner that makes the book difficult to put down, and I’m sure this book would make a particularly lovely festive read – I’m almost sorry I didn’t save it until Christmas myself!

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