Of course with it being the run up to Christmas I had to get started on all the Christmas themed books I have on my kindle. Christmas themed books tend to be romantic and a bit cliche but I am slowly learning to enjoy these types of books more and if I’m honest it can sometimes be a welcome break from all the jumpy thrillers I read.
So my first book on my Christmas list was One Wish in Manhattan.
One Wish In Manhattan by Mandy Baggot follows a single mum taking her 9 year old daughter on holiday to New York to visit her brother that lives over there. Well that’s what she says it is for, when in reality she is going to New York to find her daughter’s father after hearing her daughter make a wish to find her father to Santa.
In New York we also get to follow the life of businessman Oliver who has had a bit of a hard time of late, losing his father and older brother to a genetic heart defect and truly believing he is next.
Hayley and Oliver both have their own problems going on and are thrown into each other’s orbit after a chance meeting. Oliver keeps himself at a distance due to his life threatening defect, while Hayley’s main concern is finding her daughter’s father and getting herself a job that may or may not be in New York. Is this chance meeting the answer to both of their own problems?
With any Christmas themed book I always love the setting. This book was great for making me add New York at Christmas time to my bucket list. I loved the setting more because Mandy did not overdo it, she let the reader feel as if they were in New York by simply intertwining famous landmarks and activities like ice skating at Rockerfellar centre into the story. She also mentions the lovely skyline, particularly when focusing on Oliver’s side of the story to remind us not only of the beautiful area but I feel it also helped t emphasis how massive Oliver’s job is being situated in such a major city, far up in the buildings. I could just imagine his office having windows all around showing ever part of New York.
The Oliver character actually grew on me as I learned more about him. His views towards Christmas felt realistic and kept away from the cheesy everyone loved Christmas idea. His dislike for Christmas was also explained and very believable. I also felt for him in the beginning as he clearly was now in his situation through circumstance and was not living the life he truly wanted – despite how it looked. Even the way he referred to himself as weak was interesting because it was such an old fashioned view to have. This didn’t make me dislike him because it was done in a way that made him more human for having these thoughts, he didn’t truly believe people were weak for caring but he just didn’t know how to do it.
Speaking of which, I loved the theme throughout with it tapping into the realty of life vs how it looks to others. We are all guilty of only showing one version of our lives but also falling for it when we see other people’s life as idealistic. Oliver looked like he had everything people normally desire and yet he was deeply unhappy, while Hayley’s one wish was to find her daughter’s father with no focus on her own wants or needs. With the subtle hint toward Christmas Carol halfway through being well executed. It didn’t feel like a complete rip off, it felt genuine and was spurred on by a combination of things rather than one singular event.
Although this was a small part of the book I adored the relationship that was established between Angel and her Uncle Dean. Knowing that Angel grew up without a father made the connection she obviously felt to her uncle all the sweeter and he clearly cared deeply for her. For me this made me feel more later on in the book not only with Angel and her father but also with Dean’s treatment of Hayley later on because it was clear everything he said out of a genuine love for not only his sister but his niece too.
I actually really enjoyed the dynamic between Oliver and Hayley. The flirting was fun and clever, showing Hayley as you can imagine her being before the realities of life and motherhood hit her. It was also interesting to see Oliver’s character as he most likely was before the devastation of losing his father and brother.
I don’t actually have many issues with this book at all. I tend not to like sappy romantic stories but since I said I would give this a proper go I can’t really complain about it. I didn’t like the gran character at the beginning of the book because she just seemed a bit too harsh. Nothing Hayley did or said was ever enough and I never really understood why she was as horrible to her daughter.
I have previously praised the links to Christmas Carol but in the beginning when introducing Oliver’s character I felt there was too much focus on making him seem like Scrooge which at the time I was concerned would make it to much like a copy of Christmas Carol as well as already suggesting how obvious a change the character must go through by the end.
Overall I really enjoyed this book and felt that even the romantic elements I normally find too predictable were executed nicely. I still believe it was a bit too cliche and very unlikely for things to fall into place like they did. I will not give any spoilers but it did seem very unlikely. Even so it was done much better than other books I have read and due to it being a Christmas themed book I will be more forgiving because everyone wants to believe in the magic of the season.