Struggling to find the perfect Christmas gift? Step into Romantic Daze …
Daisy Kirk is a sucker for a love story, which is why she opened up her gift shop – because there’s nothing that makes Daisy happier than when she’s helped a customer achieve their own ‘happily ever after’ by finding the perfect Christmas gift for their loved one. And she absolutely does not just sell ‘soppy presents and frilly pants’ as her brother’s infuriating best friend, Eli, is so fond of suggesting.
The sad fact is that whilst Daisy is helping others with their love lives, hers is non-existent. But when unusual circumstances take Daisy and Eli on a road trip from London to rural Wales, will she finally get the happily ever after to her own Christmas love story?
Daisy’s living the romantic dream… of other people. Running a specialty gift shop where she helps people find that perfect gift for their loved ones, she’s an expert at answering the question ‘what do you get the person who has everything?’ Her own love life is nonexistent, though, mainly because she’s massively hung up on Eli, her brother Ben’s best mate. One disastrous night 10 years ago was it for their relationship, and ever since then she’s had to watch as player Eli breaks hearts all over town.
This is, in a lot of ways, a story about Eli growing up and seeing what he wants has been right in front of him all along. He’s the one who gets the character growth in this story, even though Daisy’s the central character. Daisy’s delightful and it’s frustrating to watch Eli fail to realize this repeatedly. He does some decent things, like swapping her meat for his veg when her brother Ben forgets to order her vegetarian meals at a restaurant, but he also does some appalling stuff like bailing on Daisy after sleeping with her and then avoiding her for days. By the end of the book, he really does seem to have grown up and realized how lucky he is that Daisy’s willing to accept him flaws and all, and I did believe in the HEA of their romance.
I had some issues with Daisy’s brother Ben’s portrayal; it seemed blatantly obvious that Ben was on the autism spectrum (genius techy with bad people skills, who ‘never lies and doesn’t understand why other people do’) and yet, the A word was never mentioned. Everyone just talks about Ben’s quirks and Daisy, unfortunately, tends to infantilize him which leads to Ben’s new girlfriend quite understandably not liking Daisy very much. Daisy’s outraged about it, but it’s the girlfriend who’s played as the psycho, which didn’t sit very well with me. Yes, Daisy did face up to her faults and accept that her treatment of Ben needed to change, but the whole thing just felt off, at least in part because Ben’s autism was never acknowledged. And if you’re telling me that a 28-year-old man with a sensitive job for the British government hasn’t been diagnosed, in this day and age, you’re telling me porkies.
Even though Daisy was a delightful character - and her friend Lily the sex-positive retailer was a breath of fresh air - I had some issues with the portrayal of an autistic character in the book which keep me from giving it a full five stars. I did enjoy the read, though, and I’d definitely read more by this author in the future.
Daisy's Christmas Gift Shop is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this book via the author’s representative.
Author Bio –
Hannah Pearl was born in East London. She is married with two children and now lives in Cambridge.
She has previously worked as a Criminology researcher, as a Development Worker with various charities and even pulled a few pints in her time.
In 2015 she was struck down by Labrynthitis, which left her feeling dizzy and virtually housebound. She has since been diagnosed with ME. Reading has allowed Hannah to escape from the reality of feeling ill. She read upwards of three hundred books during the first year of her illness. When her burgeoning eReader addiction grew to be too expensive, she decided to have a go at writing. In 2017 she won Simon and Schuster's Books and the City #heatseeker short story competition, in partnership with Heat magazine, for her short story The Last Good Day.
Hannah is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association.