The Christmas Heart by Helena Halme
Published: 25 Oct. 2018, Newhurst Press
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Swathi’s Rating: 4/5
Verdict: The perfect feel-good Nordic romance to cozy up on a Holiday!
Today is my stop for the Blog Tour of The Christmas Heart and I am so excited to share my thoughts on this beautiful romance! I’ve got an exclusive excerpt to whet your appetite ahead of the Holiday season. Go ahead, and get your E-copy today!
With his beloved mother passed, Tom is forced to leave his two teenage sons in Milan with his ex and is looking forward to an uncomplicated Christmas skiing in the Swedish Alps.
With her daughter Rosa away backpacking in the Far East, Kaisa decides to take a rare winter break over the holidays with her best friend Tuuli. Now in her late fifties, Kaisa doesn’t think she’ll ever fall in love again. But when she sees Tom after some thirty years, her heart begins to beat a little faster. Kaisa knows, however, an affair with Tom will go nowhere. Years ago, they had a disastrous date, which neither of them wishes to revisit.
Yet, on the slopes and in the apres-ski bars Tom showers Kaisa with his attentions and she finds she cannot resist his intense eyes and passionate kisses.
Can Kaisa trust this European Casanova, and her own sudden infatuation?
The Christmas Heart is a seasonal story of grown-up love set in the beautiful Swedish Alps. It’s the final book in the acclaimed Nordic Heart series, but can also be read as a stand-alone story.
Get this feel-good Nordic holiday romance today!Amazon
This excerpt from The Christmas Heart is from the beginning of the book when Kaisa and Tom meet for the first time in nearly 30 years. These two have some history together, although none of it is particularly good.
‘Look who I found skulking around the bar!’ Tuuli said. She was holding two beers and behind her Kaisa saw two taller shapes.
When one of them came into the light she saw it was Ricky, Tuuli’s partner. Kaisa was puzzled when Ricky stepped forward to give her a hug. Tuuli hadn’t mentioned that Ricky would be in Åre for Christmas. In fact, she was almost sure her friend had told her that he had to be with his elderly parents for the holidays. Ricky was wearing a bright red ski suit, tight around his narrow hips. He moved slowly forward, hampered by his ski boots. It was only when Kaisa looked over Ricky’s shoulder, still in his friendly, but tight embrace, that she saw him. Her breath caught in her throat and she pulled herself away from Ricky.
Tom came forward and offered Kaisa his hand.
‘Hi, it’s been a long time,’ Tom said and grinned like a naughty schoolboy.
Kaisa took the proffered hand and felt his strong fingers around her own. Their eyes met. Kaisa’s mind returned to the first time she’d ever seen him, in the Hanken Students’ Union bar where he had so obviously hit on her, giving her the once-over, his eyes lingering on Kaisa’s hips, breasts and lips for far too long. And then the meeting a couple of years later, when Kaisa had fled Scotland – and the wrongs she had done to Peter – to sleep on her sister’s sofa bed in Helsinki. She’d thought that her marriage to Peter was over and she needed to move on. Tom and Kaisa had a date but it had gone disastrously wrong. Since that evening, Kaisa hadn’t set eyes on one of the ‘Rich Boys’, as she and Tuuli had dubbed the gang of wealthy students.
‘Yes,’ she eventually managed to stutter.
Kaisa regarded the mature man in front of her. Tom’s tidy grey beard (it was just a five-clock shadow, really) was almost white with the frost on it. It looked as if he’d just stepped inside the restaurant. He too was wearing an all-in-one snowsuit, but his was light grey with red stripes on the sides. His dark brown hair looked a little silvery around the temples, but he had the same floppy fringe that he’d always worn.
‘Well, isn’t this like old times!’ Tuuli said, the tone of her voice a little too high, and she asked the two men to join them on the sofas. Kaisa seated herself down quickly, trying at the same time to catch Tuuli’s eye. It was obvious her friend had set her up. But Kaisa’s friend was chatting to Ricky, who’d sat down next to Tuuli on the seats opposite. With their heads close to each other, they laughed. It was so dark in the restaurant, that Kaisa couldn’t see Tuuli’s eyes, or rather, the expression in them.
‘Can I sit here?’ Tom was still standing, with the beer in his hand.
‘Ah, sorry, of course,’ Kaisa said, moving to the end of the sofa, avoiding those eyes. She turned towards her friend, then looked sideways at Tom, who had settled next to her. She pulled her lips into a smile.
‘It must be, what thirty years since …’ Kaisa stammered.
Why did she always have to be so awkward in social situations? Even now when she was in her fifties!
She swallowed hard and continued, ‘… since I last saw you. What have you been up to?’
Tom coughed into his hand and smiled. Kaisa noticed how white his teeth were. Even in the low light of the restaurant, Kaisa could tell the man was tanned. Tanned in that central European way that no Finn ever managed, however much tanning lotion they applied. He had a few lines around his eyes and mouth, but they just made him look more attractive. Kaisa wondered about her own appearance. Her hair was probably plastered onto her skull, the result of wearing a ski helmet all day.
‘I’ve been out of the country. Living in Milan. You remember my mother was Italian?’ Tom said. He took a swig from his glass.
‘Yes, I do.’
Tom was quiet now, looking into his drink and Kaisa didn’t know what to say. She leaned towards the table to pick up her beer and to catch Tuuli’s eye. She raised her eyebrows and hoped her friend would come to her aid. But Tuuli simply gave a quick smile, and continued to chat to Ricky, unaware (on purpose?) of Kaisa’s predicament.
‘Sorry, I had no idea about this,’ Kaisa nodded towards her friend and Ricky.
Tom’s eyes peered at her with such an intense gaze that she suddenly felt breathless.
‘It was rather sprung on me, too,’ he laughed.
‘Ah,’ Kaisa said. She took another, larger gulp of her drink and licked the beer foam off her lips.
‘I’m sorry,’ Kaisa said.
Tom’s eyes widened, ‘No need, it’s nice to catch up, yes?’
A prize-winning author, Helena Halme writes contemporary fiction with a hint of both Nordic Noir and romance. She’s a former BBC journalist, bookseller and magazine editor. Originally from Finland where she gained an MSc in Marketing, she also holds an MA in Creative Writing from Bath Spa University and writes in English.
Helena acts as Nordic Ambassador for the Alliance of Independent Authors and helps other writers publish and market their books.
Helena has published seven fiction titles, including The English Heart, a best-selling Nordic romance, which won an Awesome Indies badge on publication. The bittersweet 1980s love story between a Finnish student and a British Navy officer is now a series, including a prequel novella, The Young Heart, the sequels The Faithful Heart, The Good Heart and Helena’s latest title, The True Heart, book four in The Nordic Heart Series. Helena has also published a non-fiction title, Write Your Story: Turn Your Life into Fiction in 10 Easy Steps.
Helena is addicted to Nordic Noir and dances to Abba songs when nobody’s watching.Website Twitter Facebook Instagram
This book belongs to the Nordic Heart series, which I hadn’t known when I opted to read it. But the story was so lovely that I had to get to know the characters better – thankfully the story picks up from the present, 20 years after Rosa (the daughter of Kaisa) is all grown up.
The beautiful writing of Helena describes every bit of a gorgeous setting teleporting the readers to Scandinavia and its own cultures! I love it when a book does that, especially when you are reading it on a rainy day, all cozied up! Such a lovely experience, you can imagine.
This is a feel-good book with lots of hope and happiness. The book is slender, and the pages keep turning so fast that I had to fight the dilemma of reserving it for the next day, or finishing it right away! The struggle faced by every book Lover!
I strongly recommend this beautiful novel for a binge read on a weekend, especially when Christmas is nearing. Huge thanks to Random Things Through my Letterbox for inviting me to this Blog Tour. All opinions are honest and they are mine.
Until next time! XX