Christmas At Claridge's - Karen Swan

Clem Alderton is one of Notting Hill's most prestigious party girls. She's gained a reputation over the years for drinking too much, being too easy and then doing it all over again the next day. She's also the girl every woman wants to be and every man wants to be with. She's gorgeous and seems to have it all, yet she can't let the past go. So, one night when she takes her reckless behaviour a little too far, her pristine world of partying and forgetting it all is over. Suddenly, her beloved brother hates her and she's in danger of losing her home and job. In comes a handsome stranger, nicknamed "The Swimmer" for his broad shoulders, who appears at the most unexpected places and does things to Clem that no man ever has. When he offers her brother the chance to save his business he jumps at it. The only condition is that Clem must go back to the one place she never wants to return to again: Portofino in Italy. Will Clem risk losing her brother's love forever just because she can't bear to face what happened ten years ago? Or will she take the opportunity to do what she should have done years ago? This is a wonderful story, very powerful and well written. While "The Swimmer" appears stalker-ish and possessive at first, there's no doubt that he is what Clem needs - at least for a little while. It's obvious that Karen Swan has a background in fashion as the detail put into the clothing and styles of the characters is so detailed and exquisite. The ending will definitely shock you, but it's also an ending that will make you smile and feel good. (AS)

Karen Swan's latest novel, Christmas at Claridge's, is about a woman who's been running from her past. The summary of Christmas at Claridge's says: "Clem Alderton's got it all: the flat on Portobello Road, the 34-inch inside leg, an account at Claridge's and her mother's Birkin bag (finally). She's the girl every man wants and every woman wants to be, the eye at the centre of every social storm. But beneath the morning-after make-up and the model's wardrobe, Portobello's party girl is keeping a secret. When she goes too far one reckless night, she endangers everything that matters to her - her home, her job and her adored brother's love. Her world is on the brink of collapse until she's offered a commission refurbishing a villa in the Italian Riviera town of Portofino. It's a lifeline and an opportunity she can't possibly turn down - except Clem's been there once before and swore, for her own protection, never to return. Because in Portobello she's been able to run from her past, but in Portofino, if she dares to go back, there'll be nowhere to hide." Christmas at Claridge's is out in November 2013.

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