Book Review: New Year's Promise by Anna Clifton

"They’ve been colleagues, allies and best friends forever, but he wants more — and he’s not above using the magic of the Christmas season to get it.

When Business Development Executive Ellie Halligan is offered the job of a lifetime in Paris, it seems her chance to live a fairytale adventure has finally arrived. Her only hurdle is convincing legal eagle Justin Murphy — her boss and friend since childhood — to wave his boss’s wand and waive her four-week resignation period so that she can start her adventure by Christmas.

But Justin proves to be a demanding fairy godmother. He’ll let her go early, but not unless she spends time with him over the festive season up until New Year.

Ellie doesn’t know what to do. Is Justin finally looking at her romantically after all these years, or are far more threatening dynamics at play? Justin has a secret, and he seems to want to pull her back into a past she’d rather forget. But delving into that old pain might be the only way to move forward — and for Justin to finally be free.

Will doing this for Justin become Ellie’s final gift of love as she loses him forever?"

Childhood friends Ellie and Justin have experienced a lot of pain and loss in their lives – Justin, the loss of his terminally ill brother when they were just teenagers and Ellie, the passing of her beloved mother. It seems as though they’re just getting their lives back on track, bar a few misgivings about recent broken relationships, when Harry, Ellie’s brother, approaches Justin and asks for his help.

He’s about to go into hospital for surgery and needs Justin to turn down Ellie's imminent resignation and delay her departure for two weeks in case something goes wrong during surgery. He knows that if she hears about his operation, her mothering instincts will kick in and she will drop the Paris job that she has accepted.

Justin reluctantly agrees and plucks up the courage to ask Ellie to spend time with him over the following two weeks. As these old friends begin to spend more time together, a photograph dredges up memories for Justin and it's not long before a family secret comes to the fore.

As Ellie and Justin piece together a decades old puzzle, one can only hope that there will be a happy every after.

It seems like I’ve been reading a lot of new-to-me authors lately (which is great because we have so many talented writers here in Australia) so, when Anna emailed me to request a review of her latest novel, I jumped at it because it sounded just like my kind of romance. Yes, she warned me about the emotional angst, but that’s the way I like them and this one certainly satisfied that need! Of course, the other big draw-card for me was the friends to lovers trope which is always (at least for me) far more realistic in terms of a romance novel because the characters already know a lot about each other and it’s not like they just fall into bed together. At least, not in this one!

There are many great moments between Ellie and Justin in this novel such as the beach scene, the “clapping” scene, as well as some particularly poignant ones later on and, in using the issues at the heart of the novel, Anna creates a large amount of emotional conflict (without the melodrama) which clearly shows that she got to know her characters very well, thus enhancing the reader’s enjoyment.

Emotional, uplifting and featuring a cast of down-to-earth characters that you will be able to identify and engage with, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this novel about family, mothering, love and friendship to all those avid romance readers out there. Just one suggestion though – if you are moved as easily as me, keep the tissues handy!

Whilst this is number three in the series, it can well be read as a stand-alone - now I just need to get hold of Anna’s previous two books, Adam’s Boys and Falling for the Lawyer.

My thanks to both Escape Publishing (and Anna) for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel.

A Little About the Author

Anna Clifton is a lawyer by trade and a mother to several children and a couple of cats. Her husband is not quite sure how her compulsive writing squeezes itself into the family schedule, but knows better than to stand in the way of the woman he loves on a mission.

Anna lives in Sydney but escapes with her family as often as possible to Far North Queensland where she loves to sit with a glass of wine and watch her husband do the thing she dreads doing most — cooking!


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