Saturday, 14 December 2019

The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant - Review

Today I'm pleased to be bringing you a seasonal post. It's always satisfying when you are blogging about something at the right time of year! Marilyn Brant has brought out an Emma-influenced story which is set at Christmas time, The Knight Before Christmas, and she was so kind as to give me a copy to read and review. Let's look at the blurb and then I'll tell you what I thought of the book :)

Book cover: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant
Book Description

THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS is a light contemporary romance by New York Times & USA Today bestselling author Marilyn Brant, who also penned the award-winning and Jane Austen-inspired novels ACCORDING TO JANE and PRIDE, PREJUDICE AND THE PERFECT MATCH.

When successful building contractor Austin Knightley returns to his hometown of Crystal Corners, Minnesota after a decade away, he vows to avoid pampered and popular types like his old high-school crush Emma Westwood—the town's biggest queen bee and self-appointed matchmaker—only to get swept into a community Christmas project she's now organizing.

With nods to Jane Austen's classic novel EMMA, this modern heroine may be a little "clueless" in the Midwest, but she's got gifts to share and plenty to learn from the boy next door, who's all grown up and handsomer than ever. Even when a snowstorm threatens to derail her plans, she's determined to figure out how to set things right and save THE KNIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS.

This sweet and heartwarming holiday romance is a story that can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

The Knight Before Christmas - Review

It’s been ages since I’ve read a Marilyn Brant book, so I was very interested to hear about this one, which I thought at first was a modernisation of Austen’s Emma. However, if you read the blurb, it’s clear that it’s a story with nods to Emma rather than replicating the story.

We start with the heroine, Emma Westwood, who is basically the princess of Crystal Corners, the small town where she has always lived in Minnesota. She is from a rich background, and her family uses their money for good; they run a charitable organisation, which Emma manages. Emma is very much a people person. She is genuinely interested in others, and tries to use her influence for good. It’s fair to say that Emma is a little spoilt, but she is a good person with good motives.

One of the ways that she has shown interest in making others happy is in her matchmaking. She’s made a fair few matches, often deciding that men she has dated would be a better fit with other people! Despite all her friends Emma is a little lonely. She has never met anybody that she would like to settle down with but she longs for a loving relationship that she sees all around her. Emma is very close with her parents, but this year, for their wedding anniversary, they are taking a holiday to Europe and will be away over Christmas, so she is more alone than usual.

Emma has a community project that she is focusing on completing; having fond memories of a knight statuette that she received as a small child, she works throughout the year to give every child in the town a personalised statuette, which reflects their interests. These are presented at Christmas time.

Emma has always had a soft spot for knights in shining armour:
One day, though, she wanted a real-life knight. 
And, with the certainty of someone well accustomed to getting what she desired, young Emma Westwood figured it was only a matter of time until her fantasy became a reality.
When there is a problem with the custom cabinet that Emma has ordered for the statuettes she could do with a knight in shining armour to help….

Austin Knightley was in school with Emma but he was never a fan, despite her attempts to win him over. Austin moved away from Crystal Corners and has made a successful building company. He’s moving back to the area for family reasons, as the health of Austin’s parents is starting to cause concern. Austin has 3 younger siblings, who all live locally, and only child Emma can’t help but be attracted by the warmth she sees in his family. Although Emma is interested in Austin and being friends, she is well aware that the feeling isn’t mutual:
It was strange that after all these years, it still rankled that she couldn’t win Austin over. It was as if he’d made a judgement call against her when she was a kid and refused to reverse that verdict. 
It’s a shame then, that he might be the person with the skills available to help her out when she needs a new cabinet made at short notice. Austin is willing to help for the good of the community, but he’s not working for Emma. He wants her to roll up her sleeves and pitch in. To his surprise she is happy to do just that. The unfortunate side-effect of this might be that his perception of her changes…

This is a very sweet romance which develops quickly. Emma is far more likeable than Austen’s Emma, but the flipside of this was making Austin a little less likeable than Mr Knightley - or perhaps less admirable, as Austin isn't unlikeable by any means. Austen’s Mr Knightley didn’t need to change throughout the arc of the novel, but in this book, the opposite was true. Emma didn’t change much at all, but Austin had to make some attitude re-adjustments and get rid of long-held misconceptions.

I liked the nods to Emma but sometimes I wished they were stronger. For example, there were some characters which shared names with characters in Austen’s book and I expected them to have some of the same sort of roles that they did in Austen but that wasn’t the case.

I found the book reminiscent of a Christmas feelgood film in that that the relationship developed very quickly. I would have preferred a slower pace, which may partly have been because I was looking for it to be like Emma, where friends develop into more, rather than the relationship being romantic from early on.

If you are in need of some festive feelgood, with a sprinkle of Austen, and even a Christmas miracle then this book is certainly worth a go. I’d rate it as a 3½ star read.

3.5 star read
*I received an ebook of this story from the author for my honest review.

Author Marilyn Brant
Author Bio

Marilyn Brant is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of over 20 books in the genres of contemporary women’s fiction, romantic comedy, and mystery. Her debut novel about Jane Austen won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious Golden Heart Award® (2007), and she was named Author of the Year (2013) by the Illinois Association of Teachers of English. She’s a travel addict, a music junkie, and an insatiable book collector, who loves to discuss story structure and periodically contributes novel beat sheets to the popular screenwriting website, SaveTheCat.com. Marilyn’s family believes she’s lost unquantifiable hours to the allure of “Tasty” videos on Facebook, but she refuses to substantiate this claim. For more about her writing, visit Marilyn’s website: www.marilynbrant.com


Book cover: The Knight Before Christmas by Marilyn Brant
Buy Links

The Knight Before Christmas is available to buy now in both ebook and paperback - Amazon US / Amazon UK / Amazon CA / Add to Goodreads shelf

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8 comments:

  1. I read and enjoyed this book and am looking forward to more in this series. Happy Christmas to all who celebrate.

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    1. Thanks so much, Sheila! A very Happy Christmas to you, too!! ♡

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    2. Thanks Sheila. Glad you enjoyed the book, and hope you had a good Christmas.

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  2. Oh yes, this was definitely a festive feelgood read for me, too. Glad you enjoyed it, Ceri!

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    1. Sophia, many thanks for your kind comment!! Hope you're having a lovely December. :)

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    2. Very much a festive feelgood read!

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  3. Ceri, thank you again for taking the time to read and review my new holiday romance! I so appreciated reading your thoughts and wish you (and all who read this note) much Christmas cheer as 2019 ends & 2020 begins!

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    1. Thanks so much Marilyn! Hope you've had a good festive period and that 2020 brings you great things.

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