With the return of Strictly Come Dancing this month, Emma Clarendon catches up with the third book set at the Buckingham Hotel by the Strictly judge.
Following on from One Enchanted Evening and Moonlight over Mayfair, this third book in the series from Anton Du Beke is still filled with romance, friendship and dancing but there is also a surprising part of darkness as well with the threat of World War II coming ever closer to the Buckingham Hotel.
From the very first page, readers are swept back into the glamorous world of the Buckingham Hotel and the lives of the guests and staff who depend on it. From secrets being uncovered, weddings being planned to the politics of the wider world being interwoven with the character’s individual stories, this is an extremely engaging read.
The story begins as the hotel prepares to re-open its renowned ballroom, which was destroyed in a fire that ripped through the hotel in Moonlight over Mayfair and having to deal with the tension of what is happening in politics abroad which is leading to a lack of the foreign guests that the hotel depends on for survival. But it soon emerges that danger and secrets also lurks directly under the hotel’s roof which also provides a very real threat. However, there is also joy to be found as Nancy prepares to get married to professional dancer Raymond, while new romances are uncovered along the way.
Written with customary style and elegance, Du Beke really knows how to bring the 1930’s world to life with great detail, whilst also ensuring the historical background to the story is never forgotten, building to a glorious climax that leaves the reader wanting more (I have yet to read the other couple of books in the series that follow this one, plus there is one more coming this October). There are some wonderful character arcs, particularly the way in which Vivienne Edgerton seems to blossom with each book highlighting the character’s growth beautifully – from the spoilt and bored heiress to someone confident to make her own way in the world. Meanwhile, it is also lovely to gain more insight into other character’s backgrounds, such as Mrs Moffat whose role in the story seems a lot stronger in this book and learning more about her background was an interesting sub-plot.
While the title suggests the story is simply set at Christmas, it actually starts prior to this building up beautifully to the festive season so it is something that you can read this at anytime of year, with every character’s plot fitting in beautifully to the overall story. It will be interesting to see how this series continues to develop and grow as it edges ever closer to World War II.
By Emma Clarendon
A Christmas to Remember is available to buy now.