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Friday, 28 October 2011

Wrapped up in you by Carole Matthews

Wrapped Up In You

A Christmas fling, or has Janie found the real thing? Thirty-something hairdresser Janie Johnson's single status is a constant source of gossip for her friends and clients. So after too many nights in with her cat, a blind date disaster and news that her ex is getting married, Janie realises it's time to do something dramatic with her life. It's time for an adventure! Leaving winter behind, Janie takes the plunge and books an exotic trip to Africa. Her friends think she's mad and Janie thinks they may very well be right ...but then she falls head over heels for her tour guide - and fully fledged Maasai Warrior - Dominic. But can Janie now face spending a snowy Christmas back home without him? Packed with unforgettable characters, romance and laughter, Wrapped Up In You is your very own perfect Christmas Carole!

This is another new author to me, and again I will be seeking out her back catalogue very soon!

Looking at the cover of the book, I was expecting a nice, easy going love story, set around Christmas time, in a snowy winter. What I was not expecting was part of the story to be set in the Maasai Mara, Kenya and the main male character to be a Maasai Warrior! However, I absolutely loved this book and devoured it in a couple of days (I actually read a large proportion of it while waiting in a Michael Connelly book signing queue in Birmingham). 

The story begins with the main character, Janie Johnson, being bored of her single life, working each day in a hairdressers, with her regular customers asking about her love life (or lack of it). One such regular, Mrs Silverton, has just returned from a holiday to the Maasai Mara, a safari holiday, and Janie decides to make a quick decision and books a week away on Safari. Here she meets Dominic, the guide for the safari, and the attraction, which is mutual, is instant. Following her week's holiday, Janie is reluctant to leave Kenya and return to her life back in England, but she does along with the promise that herself and Dominic will stay in touch. 
Janie's friends and customers all consider Dominic to be a holiday romance and warn Janie to be careful, not to pin much hope on their romance, that these guides must have a new girlfriend each time a new group of people arrive for the safari, not to send money because it is a scam, the girls send them money and never hear from them again, unless they want more money. 
However, Janie does not listen to her friends and customers, determined that Dominic is the one and as Christmas approaches she makes another quick decision, she will return to Maasai for a brief visit between Christmas and the New Year. Again Dominic is waiting for her and they spend a romantic few days together, even visiting his parents in his village. It is on this quick visit that they talk about their future together and Janie asks Dominic to come to England to live with her. 
When Janie returns to England, her friends are very worried and tell Janie that as soon as she sends money for his ticket, that will be the last that she will hear from Dominic - however, Dominic does travel to England and they do set up home together. Dominic's life in Maasai was a completely different style and with different priorities, however he tries to adapt as best as he can. I loved his instant and mutual friendship between him and Janie's cat who he placed round his neck like a scarf when he left the house. He was also very popular with the older generation of the village.

There are also other characters within the book; the staff at the hair salon who all have their own problematic lives but also care about Janie, including Nina, Janie's oldest friend, who is having marriage difficulties; the blind date who Janie escapes from via a toilet window, but who thinks the date went well and there is a future, and who stalks her; and Mike, a neighbour who's wife has recently left him and who spends movie evenings with Janie, he has feelings for her, but Janie considers him a good friend. All these people have their own part to play within the book and most of them have Janie's best interests at heart but the road of friendship is not always easy.

I am not going to say what happens when Dominic lives in England with Janie, I don't want to spoil other readers enjoyment of the book but I do think it is well written. Carole Matthews must have done alot of research at the Maasai Mara (what a great excuse for a holiday) and her writing is very descriptive and I found it easy to picture the scenes there and would definitely love to visit. I found Janie's friends reactions to be realistic, there have been so many stories in the news about how English women have been duped into sending money overseas to bring boyfriends here, only to never see them again or for them to come and then disappear. 

I think that Dominics story was a very endearing one, he did all he could to become involved in English life and stuck very stringently to his visa conditions. He seemed a very determined young man, not afraid to show the love for his country and his proudness of being a Massai Warrior - although I am sure the customs officers at the airport would have been very worried to have not found his Machete in his luggage on his arrival! 

I would recommend this book to chick lit lovers but will say, if you are expecting a cosy Christmas read, with snow on the ground and jolly family events around the fire, you will be disappointed. The story is very good though and i do not think readers will be disappointed at all, there are plenty of times of laughter and good cheer within the book.

I noticed that this book is the first by Matthews to be published by Sphere and that they will be publishing two books per year, one Christmas and one Summer title each year, and so i am looking forward to the Summer one already!

Thank you to Carole and Sphere for sending me the book to review.

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