Author: Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

#BookReview
The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan
@KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview The Christmas Lights by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: The Christmas Lights

Author: Karen Swan

Published by Pan Macmillan on October 30, 2018

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 8.5/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Set on the scenic fjords of Norway, The Christmas Lights by bestselling author Karen Swan is a moving Christmas tale of love and heartbreak.

December 2018, and free-spirited Influencers Bo Loxley and her partner Zac are living a life of wanderlust, travelling the globe and sharing their adventures with their millions of fans. Booked to spend Christmas in the Norwegian fjords, they set up home in a remote farm owned by enigmatic mountain guide Anders and his fierce grandmother Signy. Surrounded by snowy peaks and frozen falls, everything should be perfect. But the camera can lie and with every new post, the ‘perfect’ life Zac and Bo are portraying is diverging from the truth. Something Bo can’t explain is wrong at the very heart of their lives and Anders is the only person who’ll listen.

June 1936, and fourteen-year old Signy is sent with her sister and village friends to the summer pastures to work as milkmaids, protecting the herd that will sustain the farm through the long, winter months. But miles from home and away from the safety of their families, threat begins to lurk in friendly faces . . .

The mountains keep secrets – Signy knows this better than anyone – and as Bo’s life begins to spiral she is forced, like the old woman before her, to question who is friend and who is foe.


Review:

Alluring, mysterious, and delightfully festive!

The Christmas Lights is an atmospheric, compelling tale set in Norway during 1936, as well as the present day, and is told from two different perspectives. Bo, a young reality star unnerved by an obsessed, online stalker and struggling to enjoy a life that lacks privacy, and Signy a sweet, country girl who learns at a young age the dangers that hide on the hills she loves and amongst the animals that grace them.

The writing is smooth, crisp, and vivid. The characters are a mix of kind, endearing, self-indulgent, and exasperating. And the plot is an entertaining mix of heart, hope, angst, mystery, and drama.

The Christmas Lights is, ultimately, a story about relationships, adventure, heartbreak, secrets, expectations, love, obsession, and discovering one’s true self that highlights just how susceptible and vulnerable social media can make us. It’s a beautiful, picture postcard of the frozen terrain, rugged mountains, and breathtaking Northern Lights of the fjords of Norway, and is a charming holiday read complete with a sliver of mystique.

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                              

 

 

 

Thank you to Publishers Group Canada for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

#BookReview
The Greek Escape by Karen Swan
@KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillan

#BookReview The Greek Escape by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks @panmacmillanTitle: The Greek Escape

Author: Karen Swan

Published by Pan Macmillan on May 8, 2018

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 432

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

A scorching and sensational summer novel from the Globe and Mail bestselling author of The Paris Secret and The Rome Affair.

Set between the skyscrapers of Manhattan and the crystal blue waters of the Mediterranean, The Greek Escape will leave you breathless as each twist unfolds.

Running from heartbreak, Chloe Marston leaves her old life in London for a fresh start in New York. Working at a luxury concierge company, she makes other people’s lives run perfectly, even if her own has ground to a halt. But a terrible accident forces her to step into a new role, up close and personal with the company’s most esteemed and powerful clients. Charismatic Joe Lincoln is one of them and his every wish is her command, so when he asks her to find him a secluded holiday home in the Greek Islands, she sets about sourcing the perfect retreat.

But when Tom, her ex, unexpectedly shows up in Manhattan and the stability of her new life is thrown off-balance again, Chloe jumps at the chance to help Joe inspect the holiday house. Escaping to Greece will give her the time and space to decide where her future truly lies. Tom is the man she has loved for so long but he has hurt her before – can she give him another chance? And as she draws closer to Joe, does she even want to? As magnetic as he is mysterious, there’s an undeniable chemistry between them that she can’t resist.

But whatever her heart is telling her, she’s in over her head—another client’s wife has mysteriously disappeared and seriously allegations about Joe threaten more than just her happiness. Who can she trust? And will Chloe uncover the truth in time?


Review:

Mysterious, enticing, and wickedly entertaining!

The Greek Escape is a provocative thrill ride that takes you on a journey into the life of the heartbroken, hardworking Chloe as she juggles relocation, a high-pressure career, a two-timing ex, the whims and dalliances of the rich and famous, and a cocky, demanding, handsome new client.

The prose is evocative and polished. The characters are inquisitive, ambitious, and spontaneous. The settings are exotic and picturesque. And the plot is a true guilty pleasure that’s packed with action, humour, suspense, drama, corruption, scandals, sex, and romance.

The Greek Escape is a fresh, sophisticated, addictive novel with irresistible characters that I devoured from start to finish. I’m a huge fan of Karen Swan, and this novel didn’t disappoint. It enthralled, captivated, and amused me, and I highly recommend it.

If you haven’t had a chance to read my reviews of some of Karen Swan’s previous titles be sure to check them out here:

 

This novel is available now in some countries.

Pick up or preorder a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

 

 

Thank you to PGC Canada and Pan Macmillan for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

 

#BookReview #Q&A
The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan
@KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks

#BookReview #Q&A The Christmas Secret by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooksTitle: The Christmas Secret

Author: Karen Swan

Published by Pan Macmillan on November 4, 2017

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 478

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

They say that behind every great man, there’s a great woman, and behind London’s most powerful leaders, there stands only one — Alex Hyde, Business Coach par excellence. She’s the woman they turn to for advice and strategy when the pressure gets too much.

So when she gets a call from an esteemed whisky company in Scotland asking for her services it’s business as usual. Only, she’s never met anyone like Lochlan Burr before. CEO of Kentallen Distilleries, he’s also the son and heir of the company’s founder. He’s a maverick, an enigma, a renegade, and Alex needs to get inside his head before he brings the company to its knees. But as she tasks herself with finding a way in, she finds she’s the one being maneuvered; for once, she isn’t in control. And when she stumbles across a chance discovery that changes everything, she’s suddenly not so sure she should be.


Review:

Absorbing, enthralling, and positively addictive!

In this latest novel by Swan she sweeps us away to Isle of Islay where the people are the salt of the earth, the terrain is rugged, the peat is unique, and the whisky is smoky, smooth, and plentiful!

The prose is remarkably well turned and fluid. The characters are unique, flawed, eccentric, and lovable. And the story is an exceptionally compelling tale about life, loss, grief, war, familial dynamics, friendship, forgiveness, courage, community, happiness, love, and good Scotch.  

Alternating between the past and the present, The Christmas Secret has it all. It’s humorous and lighthearted, emotional and heartbreaking, mysterious and sweet. It grabs you from the very first page and with its wonderfully blended storyline of historical facts, snappy fiction, and delightful romance it’s truly the perfect holiday treat! 

If you haven’t had a chance to read my reviews for some of Karen Swan’s previous titles be sure to check them out here:

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

 

And now a little Q&A with Karen Swan:

The Christmas Secret is set mainly in Islay, Scotland. Prior to writing the novel did this locale have any personal significance for you?

Yes, my father is Scottish so I have spent much of my life in the Highlands and I love it: I was married there, my first born was christened there; it’s very much a part of me and I identify strongly as being of Scottish blood; ‘Swan’ is actually a shortening of my maiden name MacSwan MacLeod. Also, my father knows the Robertson family, whose grandfather, Sergeant Malcolm MacNeill, had the grim task of identifying the bodies of the soldiers washed ashore after the American troopship Tuscania sank. It was a devastating incident for such a tiny, rural community to have the war literally wash up on their sands like that, and tragically it was compounded just a few months later when another American troop carrier, the Otranto, sank in a collision with its own convoy just off Islay’s shores. The Tuscania tragedy was the single largest loss of American lives in one day since the Civil War and was met with national dismay back home. The centenary anniversary is coming up for both events so it felt like an opportunity to remember those who perished.

In the Christmas Secret, as well as some of your other novels, you interweave a historical event, in this case the tragic sinking of the SS Tuscania, with contemporary fiction. Do you find this harder or easier to write than your novels that are purely fictional?

I’m increasingly interested in incorporating a historical element in my stories, for it adds weight but also pathos too. It does make it more complicated though, in this case ridiculously so, as I chose to reveal the backstory through a variety of different sources and characters all of which involved different research and tones of voice. Partly I did this because I wanted the impact of what happened to be spelled out in three-hundred and sixty degrees; it also fractured the telling of the event for the reader, giving a haunting, dream-like quality to the story. I asked myself several times over the course of writing it, whether it was strictly necessary to devote some much time and energy to this thread and those characters, but I think the closing sentences of the epilogue rather sum up why it had to be done. They brought me to tears.

The Christmas Secret is a beautiful story about small-island life, love, forgiveness, community, and whisky, but Is there any sub-plot or chapter that you had to edit out because of the flow that you really wish you could have kept in?

Funnily enough, it wasn’t a matter of cutting anything out but rather, having to refrain from putting too much in. I would have liked to go in closer with some of the characters in the back-story but I had to write very lightly, taking care not to make anything too obvious or heavy-handed. The historical story could easily have overshadowed the present day story if I wasn’t careful and I had to constantly remind myself that it was there to underpin and explain the main action, not overwhelm it.

In The Christmas Secret and all your previous novels you have a strong, independent female protagonist that is often fashion savvy. Do you do this consciously or unconsciously based on your own success as a fashion editor?

Yes, I think I do really. Although I’ve moved on from that world, I still believe that fashion and how we present ourselves is an incredibly – and increasingly – important tool in how we navigate our lives. I tend to use a good sense of style as evidence of an ordered, urban, sophisticated life.

In The Christmas Secret and your previous novels you always have incredible, memorable secondary characters, such as Callum and Louise. Would you ever consider writing a novel featuring one of these characters in the lead?

I would love to, not least because sometimes – not always – I even prefer them to the main characters. There’s a little more freedom that comes with the support cast – they don’t need to be as well-behaved, or even as likeable. I think if I were to do that, it would be with Kitty in The Perfect Present. I took her very much to my heart.

In the past you have written one sequel that I know of, Summer at Tiffany’s which was the sequel to Christmas at Tiffany’s. Do you think we might see more sequels in the future or do you prefer to create new characters and fresh storylines?

It was an interesting exercise writing a sequel to Christmas At Tiffanys, not least because those characters really became very beloved to my readers and it was lovely to revisit them again. The tricky thing for my genre, however, is that the core of my stories is not the actual plot mystery but the romantic element between the characters; I really care about whether their love story feels genuine and authentic and that’s the rub: for a reader to want to turn the pages, a story must be compelling, which means creating tension and conflict; no-one wants to spend 300 pages reading about other peoples’ perfect happiness. But in order to create that necessary tension, I would have to dismantle the very relationship I had spent the previous book building up, and to me, that risks falling into ‘soap opera’ territory. If my books could be based around my characters’ jobs, rather than their love lives, it would be an enticing prospect, not least because I find most of their jobs fascinating: Flora Sykes, the fine art agent for example? She could be my equivalent to Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon! Why not? I can see it!

 

As many of you already know I am a huge fan of Karen Swan and it’s an enormous honour to have her participate in a Q&A for this blog. I also must thank PGC for their continued support and for providing me with a copy of this story in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

 

And if you live in the GTA don’t miss your opportunity to attend a “Night with Karen Swan” hosted by Publishers Group Canada.

 

© Alexander James

OAKVILLE, ON
Tuesday, November 14 • 7:00 PM
An Evening with Karen Swan • Oakville Public Library
Central Branch • Tickets on sale now

KITCHENER, ON
Wednesday, November 15 • 7:00 PM
An Evening with Karen Swan • Kitchener Public Library
85 Queen Branch • Registration required

WHITBY, ON
Thursday, November 16 • 7:00 PM
An Evening with Karen Swan • Whitby Public Library
Central Branch • Registration required

 

For more information on a “Night with Karen Swan” check out the events newsletter HERE

 

 

 

#BookReview
The Rome Affair by Karen Swan
@KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks

#BookReview The Rome Affair by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooksTitle: The Rome Affair

Author: Karen Swan

Published by Pan Macmillan on May 2, 2017

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 400

Format: Paperback

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 10/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Another compulsive, page-turning novel from the internationally bestselling author of The Paris Secret.

The glamorous capital city of Italy is brought to startling life in The Rome Affair, a compelling summer novel by Karen Swan.

1974 and Elena Damiani lives a gilded life. Born to wealth and a noted beauty, no door is closed to her, no man can resist her. At twenty-six, she is already onto her third husband when she meets her love match. But he is the one man she can never have, and all the beauty and money in the world can’t change it.

2017 and Francesca Hackett is living la dolce vita in Rome, leading tourist groups around the Eternal City and forgetting the ghosts she left behind in London. When she finds a stolen designer handbag in her dustbin and returns it, she is brought into the orbit of her grand neighbour who lives across the piazza – famed socialite Viscontessa Elena dei Damiani Pignatelli della Mirandola. Though the purse is stolen, Elena greets the return of the bag with exultation for it contains an unopened letter written by her husband on his deathbed, twelve years earlier.

Mutually intrigued by each other, the two women agree to collaborate on a project, with Cesca interviewing Elena for her memoirs. As summer unfurls, Elena tells her sensational stories, leaving Cesca in her thrall. But when a priceless diamond ring found in an ancient tunnel below the city streets is ascribed to Elena, Cesca begins to suspect a shocking secret at the heart of Elena’s life.


Review:

Brilliantly clever, mesmerizing, and unequivocally unputdownable!

This is an absorbing, enigmatic tale about all-consuming love; the lengths we will go for it and the unimaginable and limitless things we will do in the name of it.

It is predominantly set in the idyllic city of Rome and takes us into the lives of the rich and glamorous and reminds us that not everything is always as it seems and behind the majestic palaces, priceless jewels and designer clothes often lives a lot of loneliness, deception, sex, temptation, secrets, scandals, heartbreak and tragedy.

The prose is expressive, vivid and flawless. The characters are multi-layered, sympathetic and unique. And the plot is a wondrous travel guide to the city of Rome itself, the culture, the history, the food; as well as an intriguing mystery, an emotional drama and a beautiful love story.

Karen Swan’s books always entertain me, beguile me and transport me to another time and place and immerse me so thoroughly into the feelings, lives, and stories of her characters that I never want to leave and this novel is no exception. I loved this story and I can honestly tell you I will be patiently or not so patiently be eagerly awaiting her next novel.

If you haven’t checked out my review for Karen Swan’s previous title “The Paris Secret”, you can find it out HERE, and if you haven’t read anything by Karen Swan before you’re definitely missing out!

 

The first paperback will be available on May 2, 2017 and other editions will be available shortly thereafter.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                  

 

 

Thank you to Karen Swan and PGC Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

#BookReview
The Paris Secret by Karen Swan
@KarenSwan1 @PGCBooks

#BookReview The Paris Secret by Karen Swan @KarenSwan1 @PGCBooksTitle: The Paris Secret

Author: Karen Swan

Published by Pan Macmillan on May 10, 2016

Genres: Contemporary Romance, Women's Fiction

Pages: 416

Format: Paperback, ARC

Source: Publishers Group Canada

Book Rating: 9/10

 

 

Synopsis:

Not every door should be opened . . .

With stunning locations and page-turning tension, The Paris Secret is an intense and gripping tale from bestselling author Karen Swan.

Somewhere along the cobbled streets of Paris, an apartment lies thick with dust and secrets: full of priceless artworks hidden away for decades.

High-flying fine art agent Flora from London, more comfortable with the tension of a million-pound auction than a cosy candlelit dinner for two, is called in to assess these suddenly discovered treasures. As an expert in her field, she must trace the history of each painting and discover who has concealed them for so long.

Thrown in amongst the glamorous Vermeil family as they move between Paris and Antibes, Flora begins to discover that things aren’t all that they seem, while back at home her own family is recoiling from a seismic shock. The terse and brooding Xavier Vermeil seems intent on forcing Flora out of his family’s affairs – but just what is he hiding?


Review:

Compelling, emotional and deliciously mysterious!

This is a riveting tale that sweeps us into the glamorous world of art and takes us on a journey to find the true provenance of precious paintings that have been concealed for decades.

The story is predominantly set in Paris during both the latter part of WWII, as well as present day and is filled with mystique, familial drama, heartbreak, secrets, deception, history, abuse, self discovery, exotic locales and of course a little bit of romance.

The prose is precise and vividly descriptive. The characters are complex, independent and affluent. And the plot uses a present/past style to not only build suspense and tension, but to create depth and understanding to the personalities, motivations and relationships within it.

I have to admit that when it comes to Karen Swan I’m a little bit biased. I’m a huge fan (as you can see)! To me her books are like a cosy jumper, every time I pick one up I know I can snuggle down for the whole day and be immersed in a story that will captivate me, make me smile, probably make me laugh, and possibly even make me cry and this one was no exception.

 

 

This novel is available now.

Pick up a copy from your favourite retailer or from one of the following links.

                                            

 

 

Thank you to PGC Books for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review.

 

About Karen Swan

Karen Swan began her career in fashion journalism before giving it all up to raise her three children and a puppy, and to pursue her ambition of becoming a writer. She lives in the forest outside Sussex, England, writing her books in a treehouse overlooking the Downs.

An internationally bestselling author, her numerous books include The Rome Affair, The Paris Secret, Christmas Under the Stars, and The Christmas Secret. 

Photograph by Alexander James

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