A woman finds love in her mid-50s on a vacation to England.
Vivian Forest is happy with her life in the San Francisco Bay Area and excited about a promotion at work. Fans will also recognize Vivian as Maddie’s no-nonsense mother from Guillory’s previous novel, The Wedding Party (2019). When Maddie’s job as a stylist lands her a once-in-a-lifetime chance to dress a British royal—similar to the duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex—for the holidays, she insists that Vivian accompany her to England. Once they arrive, Vivian catches the eye of Malcolm Hudson, the private secretary to the queen. Vivian’s adventures seem designed to please American Anglophiles who are obsessed with the monarchy and daydream about picking out a dress for the duchess, sharing a plate of sandwiches with the duke, or dropping into a perfect curtsey at a chance encounter with the queen. Vivian’s courtship with Malcolm is genteel, charming, and virtually conflict-free. They take long walks on the royal estate, pass notes back and forth via footmen, and go horseback riding. Malcolm asks Vivian to extend her vacation after Maddie returns to California; neither of them is interested in a long distance relationship, but they can have a romantic fling in London. They are well suited to help each other navigate personal crises: Malcolm uses his professional knowledge to help Vivian evaluate her career path while she uses her skills as a social worker to help him repair a rift with his beloved nephew. Vivian and Malcolm aren’t luddites who are afraid of using mobile phones, so the authorial choice to have them continue a trans-Atlantic relationship without the benefit of modern technology is bewildering. What was charming quickly becomes twee.
Reads like a made-for-TV Christmas movie screenplay—all sugar and no substance.