Thursday, October 13, 2022

The Twelve Wishes of Christmas, by Ruby Basu

HQ, ISBN 9780008471361, October 2022

Sharmila Mitra is a young British woman whose parents are from India, and have now moved back. Sharmila is a lawyer, who had been practicing family law. After the death of her fiancé, Hari, who had lied to her about where he would be, she just can't o it anymore. She can't be objective with or about her clients. She takes a leave of absence, after which she is transferred to a different role in the firm--and from Birmingham to London.

But while she was on sabbatical, she visited her aunt and helped out at her café. One day in July, she was working at the café, and had Christmas movies on. Soppy, romantic, Hallmark movies. An older American man came in, seeming rather sad, and she took his order. The movie on at the moment caught his eye, and they started talking--especially about her fascination with American Christmas as portrayed in those movies. Her own family doesn't celebrate Christmas at all, being Hindu.

Their friendship continues, but she doesn't know he's terminally ill. Thomas does come from exactly the sort of small town featured in the Christmas movies, and he's decided he wants to give her a wonderful, unmatchable gift. Back at home in the US, he writes his will.

With her transfer to London coming up, she has three weeks vacation, and when he dies, she learns of Thomas's gift to her. A three-week, all expenses paid visit to Pineford, over Christmas. The vacation includes bringing a friend, and her friend Penny accompanies her.

She doesn't find out until she arrives and meets with Thomas's lawyer that she's only spending the first night in the hotel. After that, she's staying in Holly House, Thomas's recently repurchased childhood home. There's also Thomas's list of Christmas wishes, which if she completes all of them, she'll get a large donation to a charity of her choice. If she doesn't complete all the wishes, or if she tells anyone about the donation, it won't happen.

It's almost too much.

But Sharmila doesn't know the half of it.

Unfortunately, Thomas's nephews and niece have found out part of it. Lucas, Zack, and Izzy know that if they can't find a way to prevent her from completing the wishes, Sharmila will also inherit Holly House, and two voting shares of Thomas's company, giving her the decisive vote if Izzy and Lucas, who will inherit the rest of the shares equally, can't agree on important decisions. 

Sharmila knows nothing of this. Lucas, Izzy, and Zack know nothing of the donation, and they assume in any case that Sharmila scammed a lonely, ailing man. Zack is no longer involved in the company, but Izzy's his sister, Lucas is his cousin, and he believes his mother wants to live in Holly House again.

Lucas and Zack have returned to thwart Sharmila from getting her inheritance. And Lucas and Zack are drop dead gorgeous. Lucas is charming, and Zack is interesting.

But Sharmila is absolutely, positively, no ifs, no buts, not going to open herself up to being hurt again, after Hari. Penny wants her to open herself up again.

Sharmila and Penny have fun, have frustrations, and make friends in Pineford, who, to Lucas and Zack's bewilderment and frustration, are eager and inventive in helping her complete the wishes. Sharmila also experiences some race-based suspicion and hostility, but that's not new. 

And Zack starts having doubts about the "scheming, conniving woman taking advantage of Uncle Thomas" version of events. More and more, it just doesn't seem to match Sharmila. Yet he still doesn't want her to have the shares, or Holly House.

It's fun, romantic, and a lovely Christmas story. 


I received a free copy of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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