Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
“Is Australia to blame for your unhappiness or has stepping away from your old life allowed you to see that the life you had planned isn’t making you happy?”
I guess it’s a little bit late to be reading a Christmas book right now, but I never want Christmas to end! If you have a favourite Christmas book, you may want to read this and think again – this one is so charming and full of fun, written by two authors who are absolutely phenomenal at what they do. So happy to share my thoughts on this beautiful book for my last review of the year!
Self-proclaimed Christmas superfan Hannah Walker loves her Michigan hometown, a year-round shrine to the holiday. And this year looks to be extra special since Brett, her long-distance boyfriend, is permanently back in town.
A proposal would make the season even brighter, but with Brett clinging to his bachelor lifestyle, Hannah heads to Australia to care for—and spy on—an injured grandmother she hardly knows.
The frail relative she expects turns out to be a free spirit with an active social life and little desire for anyone’s help. Now Hannah is stuck on the opposite side of the world, spending the holidays where it never snows. With her relationship in freefall and a deadline looming at an increasingly suffocating job, it looks like Christmas might be completely ruined.
Until she meets Xavier, the bronzed surfer god who runs the animal shelter next door. Could helping him and connecting with her grandmother and new friends lead Hannah to realize the perfectly planned life she thought she wanted might not be the one she needs?
I knew I’d love this before I even started, and the opening to the book was wonderful. We get to know so many characters – Hannah and Jojo in particular – and even though there are a lot of them, it didn’t feel like there were too many to follow. The start of the book is focused heavily on family which was really heartwarming in places, and we get to know Hannah much better. Her partner, Brett, tells her he won’t be attending Thanksgiving with Hannah’s family, and I automatically felt the need to keep an eye on him. We’re thrown into Hannah’s life straight away and it felt as though we’d known her for a while which impressed me! She’s loveable and witty, and I knew her journey would be a special one. With her grandmother in need of help, it seemed Hannah’s life would take an unexpected turn all of a sudden… I couldn’t wait to learn more!
Hannah has high hopes for herself and Brett – they’ve been together years and she’s expecting a proposal, or at least the opportunity to finally live together! However, it soon becomes clear that Brett isn’t thinking of commitment at the same level as she is, and this even broke my heart a little! She agrees to travel to Australia to be with her grandmother, but I had a feeling she wouldn’t be prepared for what she was about to experience. The authors of the book seamlessly tell the story in a way that holds your interest and constantly keeps you entertained, and if I didn’t already know the book was written by two different authors at the start, I would never have guessed! The book felt so easy to read and flowed beautifully, and was just the perfect story to sit back and enjoy over my Christmas break. I was looking forward to experiencing an Australian Christmas with Hannah and just knew there would be some surprises along the way!
The characters in this book just get better and better, and I loved being introduced to Hannah’s grandmother! When we hear of what’s happened to her, I imagined her to be a frail old woman, when in fact, she has a better social life than me (even before the pandemic!) This was definitely one of my favourite characters so far, and I admired just how unlike any other character she was. The authors have really made her stand out in the story and made us eager to find out more about her. We’re also introduced to Xavier, her grandmother’s next door neighbour. After a far from ideal introduction, I was curious to see the part this character played in Hannah’s life. He certainly started to make an impact on her! The story was as hilarious as it was charming and I had a constant smile on my face in every scene. Now this is the kind of book you need to read this Christmas to cheer you up after such an awful year! I was loving every moment so far.
“Will being apart draw us closer? Or am I making the biggest mistake of my life?”
Meeting the residents (and animals) of Noosa was just so lovely and it’s always a joy to get to know a brand new character. I loved how welcoming everyone was towards Hannah and I wondered how her experience in this new place would affect how she feels about returning home. Right now, she’s feeling homesick, but with her grandmother and new friends, I felt she’d be settled very soon. The opening to the book has been written exceptionally well – I felt so at home with the characters, completely lost myself in the plot and just loved how it made me laugh and intrigued me in equal measure! I knew the middle of the book wouldn’t disappoint and I was looking forward to hearing more about Hannah’s experiences with her grandmother. Do her family back home really have anything to worry about?
The more time Hannah spends with Xave, the more she finds herself comparing him to Brett. Is Brett everything she thought he was? I really liked Xave’s character and it was so interesting learning more about his past, even though he’s been through a lot in his life. I also loved how he wants to show her what Australia has to offer, and I especially enjoyed the beach scenes – I am dying for a holiday to somewhere warm myself and after reading the beautiful description of sand and sea, I could close my eyes and imagine myself there. Bliss! Hannah’s confidence seems to soar during her time in Australia, and this is put across subtly, but very well. She does all she can to help Xave and his animal shelter even on top of her own work too. Could she be falling for this guy? Watching from the sidelines, it certainly seemed that way, and I was kind of glad!
Just as we think things are going smoothly with Hannah’s trip down under, Jojo gets in touch with some news that even I didn’t expect. Her delivery of this news wasn’t the best, but I was so glad this was out in the open – I was absolutely fuming at Brett! I’d had my doubts about this guy since the beginning of the book, but after hearing about a new girl in his life while Hannah was away, I could have punched him myself! Hannah is distraught and I really felt sorry for what she was going through, but I hoped this bit of news would open her eyes to what this guy was really like and help her to move on with a life without him. The authors really force the reader to feel how Hannah feels and we can easily put ourselves in her shoes. I was keen to see how she’d move on from this and I just hoped Xave would be a part of her healing process… her grandmother would be happy about it if so!
Hannah helps to plan a fundraiser for the animal shelter and is more than grateful for the distraction from the Brett situation. However, her work deadline is looming and she is still no closer to finishing her tasks. The conversations Hannah has with various people along the way make us think about life – what’s important and what isn’t. Hannah seems to grow before our very eyes and it was so heartwarming to see this transformation. I loved how this was explored and it really gave the story more meaning. The attention to detail and each side story, no matter how small, all come together to make this story so memorable. I found myself wanting Hannah and Xave to get together so badly! It’s clear there is something in the air and a special bond between the two – would a successful fundraiser for the shelter be the icing on the cake?
“But what happens if your plans don’t work out? Or if you discover the life you’ve planned isn’t the one you want?”
The more the story went on, the more I appreciated Jojo! With more sickening news for Hannah, it’s clear that we all need our own Jojo in our lives to always tell us the truth (no matter how ugly) and to pick us up when we need it. Hannah is forced to mull over what she wants in life and eventually makes some decisions for the sake of her happiness. This plays out incredibly well and I was hanging onto every word, hoping and praying for the right outcome for Hannah. With her grandmother and new friends encouraging her to make some changes in her life and to think about the future she wants, I knew we’d be in for a show-stopping and emotional ending. The incredible effort the authors have put into this story really does show and I feel the characters are perfectly developed – I love to see this in a book!
Seeing all Hannah’s planning for the fundraiser come together was magical, and when we finally experience this in the book, it brought a little tear to my eye! We know exactly how much work and dedication has gone into this when it really wasn’t her responsibility – it just shows you what kind of person Hannah is, and I wish I knew her personally! As always, the description here was perfect and it gave me such a warm and fuzzy feeling inside. At this point, with the happiness radiating from the event, it seemed only a matter of time before Hannah and Xave shared a ‘moment’… but she ends up drinking one Bellini too many! I’d lost count how many times I thought these guys would hit it off, but I suppose I could wait a little longer. The authors definitely don’t want to give everything away all at once and I did secret love how we were kept guessing. Does Xave share the same feelings for Hannah as she does for him?
After finally speaking to Brett and telling him what she thinks of him (you go girl!) she begins to live the single life. I admired her courage to finally do the right thing and I just knew this would benefit her in the long run. I’ve been in a similar situation before, so I understand the mix of emotions and uncertainty. However, with deadlines getting ever closer and Christmas just around the corner, she can’t let it get to her. The authors have made us feel hopeful at everything we experience at the end of the book, and after learning what a wonderful person Hannah is, it’s difficult for a reader not to want the very best for her! I couldn’t help thinking about what would happen after her time in Australia was up – could she really leave everything behind and return home? Could she even forget about Xave?
Hannah and Xave’s relationship has been written so well and blows all our expectations out of the water. When I first learned about him, I expected the two to start some cliché, whirlwind romance, but instead, this relationship is much more complicated and there is so much more at stake than we expect. I really loved learning more about the two and by the ending of the book, I was more attached to these two characters than ever. As perfect as it would be to have them begin the relationship they both deserve, I wasn’t sure how the ending would go, especially as Hannah would need to eventually go back to Michigan. However, Hannah as proved that long distance relationships with friends can work perfectly, so maybe things would work out after all… I couldn’t wait to see how the authors chose to end the book – would it be the happy ending we all want?
“I can’t predict my future, but I’ve learned I will need to be a better person to make my dreams come true.”
It’s not just Xave that Hannah needs to think about here; her grandmother’s wellbeing is just as important, and it seems as though she’ll need Hannah’s help for a little while longer. Will she stay? Before the story comes to a close, the people who mean the most to Hannah have a big surprise for her, and the effort that has gone into this just filled my heart! I always believe that surrounding yourself with the right people brings out the best in you, and Hannah really has everyone and everything she needs in Noosa to be the happiest she can be. Oh, and if you’re wondering what the outcome is for Hannah and Xave, you better read this for yourself… I don’t think you’ll be disappointed! A truly beautiful read and it’s a book that definitely deserves the full five stars. A perfect read to end the year!
This book has a unique charm that is rare to experience, as well as a mix of excitement, hope and happiness as Hannah learns more about who she is and what she wants. Even though the story is primarily about Hannah temporarily moving to Australia to care for her grandmother, it turns into a journey of self discovery and new experiences she’d never get back home. Characters are perfectly created and Hannah’s experiences in particular will have you thinking about your own life in a whole different way! Of course, as with all good rom-coms, there’s an idyllic ending too! I loved this book and expected nothing less – I’ll definitely be rereading this one. Absolutely perfect from beginning to end!
A huge thank you to the authors, Kirsty McManus and Diane Michaels for my copy of this beautiful book for me to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of A Christmas Rescue over on Amazon, available on Kindle. Make sure you’re following Kirsty on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and Diane on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more updates!