Hazel never set out to be a wedding planner. She was just helping her stressed sister Lila with cakes and décor for her big day. But when Lila and Ollie’s summer ceremony is a runaway success, with guests raving about the food and styling at the pretty venue, word about Hazel’s expertise soon spreads.
But Hazel’s clients expect the very best – she’s promised lawyers Gemma and Eliot a snow-covered castle in the Scottish Highlands, and laidback couple Josh and Sarah a bohemian beach wedding in a Caribbean paradise. But as weather, in-laws and wilful brides conspire against her, can Hazel get two very different couples to walk up two very different aisles to say ‘I do’? And will she find her own happy ending if she does?
Twins Hazel and Lila have always been especially close, so when Lila moves out of the flat they share to live with her boyfriend, Hazel feels a bit adrift. Her work life isn’t going much better as she is taken advantage of and never really given the opportunities she deserves. And as for her love life – don’t even go there (She made a pass at her childhood best friend, Sam, after being in love with him for years. Needless to say it didn’t go down well.)
However, when Lila and her soon-to-be-Husband Ollie are let down by their wedding planner, Hazel finds herself offering to step in. She is a good planner and she easily possesses the skills to ensure that her sister’s big day is a success.
Hazel manages to pull the whole thing off and Lila and Ollie’s Wedding goes swimmingly. In fact it goes so well that Hazel suddenly finds other people wanting her to plan their wedding for them too. Feeling despondent at work, Hazel takes up the offers and starts a sideline business. However when she finds herself struggling with budgets, deposits and catering she starts to wonder if she’s cut out for the hectic world of wedding-planning. Then when Hazel’s work colleague, Josh, asks her to help plan his wedding to his girlfriend Emma, Hazel is definitely wondering what she has got herself in to. Particularly as the more she gets to know Josh the more she starts to like him. But there’s no way she’s falling for him. That would be completely unprofessional and end in disaster. Right…?
I have been a huge fan of Abby Clement’s ever since I first picked up Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop over two years ago. Her stories are always so easy to fall in love with (And they often contain a sausage dog – WINNER.) Whilst there was no sausage dog to be found in The Winter Wedding I still absolutely adored it. So much so that I think it’s probably my favourite book of Abby’s to date. Her writing never lets me down and I was drawn in to this compelling, charming tale right from the off.
I quickly bonded with Hazel and felt her pain when Lila moved on to start her relationship with Ollie. It must have been so difficult to see someone who you have grown up with take the next steps to starting their new life. Poor Hazel feels stuck and as if her life is never really progressing anywhere, whether that be via her career or her love life. Then the irony is blindingly evident when she lands a job planning other peoples weddings but there is no romance on the horizon for Hazel herself. She is the kind of character you will find yourself rooting for and desperately hoping she gets her happy ending. I was fascinated by her life – particularly the miniature sets that she creates. I had no trouble picturing what these would look like and was in awe of the talent that Hazel possessed. I really liked how the sets played a vital part in the outcome of the story, too…
The relationship that Hazel and Lila share is something extremely special and something which Abby Clements demonstrates particularly well. Their bond will make you smile and by the time you finish reading the wonderfully written prologue you feel as though you know the twins as well as any of your friends and you feel more than ready to join them in their story.
Amber, who is Hazel’s new flatmate, was also a wonderful character. That girl can certainly bake and I wouldn’t turn down an invitation to sample her delicious-sounding cakes. I loved the friendship that she struck up with Hazel, although at times I was concerned that a Sam-shaped bomb was going to be dropped on their harmonious relationship.
As you may have guessed a large chunk of The Winter Wedding is based around Christmas time and there’s a Christmas-themed wedding thrown in, of course…This is more than alright by me and I loved how Abby set the scene with her writing. Her love of all things Christmas really shone through and makes you appreciate the importance of such a special time (whether you happen to be reading the novel at Christmas or not.)
As well as being a cracking romance, there is so much more at play with this novel. There’s the importance of friendship, the importance of honesty within a relationship and a huge element of when love can take you by surprise. It goes to show that things don’t always work out how you think you want them to but maybe, just maybe, that’s for the best…
All that’s left to do is for me to confess my undying love for Abby Clements. I am hugely excited about her next novel (whether sausage dogs are included or not…)
A huge thank you to Simon and Schuster for sending me a review copy of The Winter Wedding. ♥
Abby Clements worked in book publishing before she started writing. She lives in north London with her fiancé, and loves lazy Sundays, eighties films and sausage dogs.
She is the author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe and Vivien’s Heavenly Ice Cream Shop (Quercus). Her favourite summertime treat is a waffle cone with a scoop of pistachio and chocolate, with hazelnut sprinkles.