Book review: Christmas Under the Stars by Karen Swan

Christmas Under the Stars

Christmas Under the Stars

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Former fashion journalist Karen Swan has earned a much-deserved reputation for serving up delicious Christmas novels… and this year, her army of fans will be over the moon in more senses than one.

A magical concoction of romance, mystery and sparkling space odyssey, Christmas Under the Stars takes us far beyond the earthly realms of festive sagas and into the great blue yonder for a rather special out-of-this-world love story.

So prepare to be enchanted as Swan whisks us away to Banff, a popular polar resort town nestling in the snow-capped mountains of the Canadian Rockies, and home to two young couples who are enjoying living the dream.

Childhood sweethearts Meg Saunders and Mitch Sullivan live together in the wilds of Alberta. Just weeks away from their wedding, their ‘forever-ness’ seems a foregone conclusion to those who know them.

The couple work and play with Tuck and Lucy, their closest and oldest friends. Meg and Lucy are as close as sisters – much to the dismay of Meg’s sister Ronnie – and Tuck and Mitch have successfully turned their passion for snowboarding into a booming business.

But when the worst polar storm for 40 years hits the town, Mitch sets out on an almost suicidal solo rescue mission and fails to return. Alone in their tiny mountain log cabin, Meg desperately tries to radio for help and it comes from the most unexpected quarter, a lone male voice across the airwaves that sees what she cannot.

As the snow melts and Meg tries to live with her terrible loss, the friendship she imagined was forever is buckled by tensions, rivalries and devastating secrets. Nothing is as she thought and only her radio contact, a voice literally in space, understands what it is to be truly alone.

As they share confidences in the dark, witnessed only by the stars, Meg feels her future begin to pull away from her past and is forced to consider a bizarre truth… the stranger knows her better than her friends.

Swan plays a clever game in this gorgeous Christmas tale, blending action, humour, romance, high emotion and high drama in a gripping story set against the stunning Rocky Mountains.

Add a cast of acutely observed characters, some star-spangled dialogue, a plot brimming with nasty secrets, unexpected rivalries and dangerous tensions, and you have the perfect Christmas reading package.

(Pan, paperback, £7.99)