Cover Image: Last Christmas

Last Christmas

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Member Reviews

Neil is struggling with depression, and the only way to numb the pain is with alcohol. He feels like a failure in his rocky marriage with his wife, Sacha, and he’s being put under an immense amount of pressure from her wanting a baby. Their marriage is on thin ice and she’s forcing him to spend Christmas with her family since her father is terminally ill and it may be their last holiday together.

Frustrations arise when Neil’s had too much to drink and Sacha’s family alienates him, making him feel more worthless than before. Tensions arise on Christmas night, Neil and his brother in law are sent outside to deal with their frustrations with one another. No one realizes that it’s the last time they’ll see Neil alive. What happened to Neil on Christmas night and who would want him dead?

This book was sluggishly slow at the beginning, but I stuck to it and couldn’t believe the explosive ending. I thought I had it all figured out, but I was dead wrong. I was lead to believe this would be a great holiday read from the looks of the cover, but it wasn’t very Christmassy. If you love a good family drama, mixed with mystery, and a dash of rivalry…this book is for you!

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This wasn't quite what I was expecting. It was less of a psychological thriller and more of a drama. I didn't like any of the characters, although I don't think you're supposed to. It was a fast read but left me underwhelmed.

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Last Christmas is a super twisty, fast paced thriller and given that it is just shy of 300 pages, it makes for an incredibly quick and easy read also.

This was my very first book from Maria Frankland and I was so pleasantly surprised. There are definitely a few heavier topics featured in this book including depression, infertility, grief and alcoholism, but I think the author has done an incredible job in how she has handled these through her writing.

Synopsis
Neil and Sacha are currently experiencing marital problems and having to spend this Christmas with Sacha's family only makes these troubles worse.
With Neil's current unemployment, depression and alcoholism, Sacha knows spending Christmas with his in-laws is the last thing Neil wants to do, as he is always made to feel like an outsider in her family.

After an argument breaks out over Christmas dinner between Neil and one of Sacha's brothers in law, they are sent out the house to cool off and sort their differences before returning. Worry starts to flood Sacha when only Neil does not return to the house.
But Sacha's world is turned upside down the following morning when she is notified that Neil has turned up dead.

As Sacha struggles to come to terms with her husbands death and secrets within her family begin to surface, she is forced to face the truth in that they may not quite be the loving family she has always known.

My thoughts
Right off the bat, I will say that this book is not entirely set around Christmas itself (not that this is an issue for me - just something to keep in mind if that is what you're after). As I mentioned above, there are some heavy topics discussed in this book and I do appreciate the delicacy in how these were approached by the author.

A seemingly ordinary family very quickly proves to be anything but. They all seem to be hiding their own secrets and will do almost anything to ensure they stay hidden.

With all the secrets unfolding amongst these characters, I had no idea who I was even rooting for - if anyone. But I was so engrossed by this story the entire time and desperate to see how everything would unfold.

I'll be honest in that I was able to guess the twists in this book, but I don't at all find that to be a let down! I always love trying to pick up on little hints and clues and piece everything together before all is revealed in a book like this!
In saying this however, I do just think the way in which the twists were revealed, did seem a tad rushed and in a little bit of a somewhat random and not so believable way. But that's just my thoughts and again, not something that is a real issue for me!

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This book was a 4.5 star read for me and one I would definitely recommend, particularly if you are after a fast-paced and twisty thriller!

I do want to say a big thank you to Bookouture for allowing me to take part in the blog tour for Last Christmas.

This above review is completely my own ♥

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I was introduced to Maria Frankland while participating in a blog tour for “The Hen Party” in 2021. Between then and now I have also read “Hit and Run”. Her new book “Last Christmas” showed up on NetGalley and I just loved the cover. I had to add at least one Christmas book to my TBR and this book was the perfect choice. If you are looking for a warm, fuzzy Christmas tale that will deliver a happy, predictable ending – then this is not the book you want.
“Last Christmas” is a brilliant twisty psychological thriller crossed with an intense family drama. This is a book that will keep you reading late into the night as you keep wondering what will happen next.
Maria Frankland starts slowly, allowing you to ease into her story while you get to know the various characters and just as you find yourself relaxing into a slow-paced read, she unexpectedly speeds things up and leaves you flipping pages faster than you imagined possible. This gripping psychological thriller delves deep into the complex dynamics of a seemingly ordinary family whose lives are shattered by a shocking death on a snowy Christmas night. Her writing style is engaging and evocative, pulling you into the chilling world of this dysfunctional family. Her descriptions of the wintery setting and the emotional turmoil of the characters are vivid, leaving you almost feeling the biting cold and tension in the air. This is a suspenseful tale that will keep you engrossed until the very last page.
Sacha and Neil’s marriage is not in a good place when she insists that he join her family for Christmas. This is the last thing Neil wants to do, he doesn’t like his in-laws and he is not looking forward to them treating him like an outsider. He is unemployed, suffering from depression and alcohol while feeling horrid that he is not able to give Sasch the one thing she wants. When a fight at the Christmas table breaks out between Neil and Adam, Wendy – Sascha’s mother sends the pair out for a walk to sort themselves out. But Adam returns alone and Neil’s body is found at the bottom of a cliff the next day. Sascha’s world is shattered at the loss of her husband and while everyone tries to convince her that Neil jumped, she refuses to believe that he would do that to her.
This book had me on the edge of my seat with all the twists and turns. I found myself engrossed in these characters and very relieved that I do not have any sisters.
The characters are well-drawn and the author allows you to get to know the various family members as each one's secrets are revealed. The three sisters are all close to their parents, but not that much to each other. While Christy, the oldest and Sasch the middle sister have a good relationship, their little sister Rebecca does not seem to fit in the mix. She is aloof, her jealousy leaves you feeling as if she wants to stir up trouble every time she opens her mouth. These three sister and their very different husbands are guaranteed to be a handful at any event. It is no wonder the perfect Christmas Wendy was hoping for was anything but.
As Sascha grapples with the loss of her husband and the excitement about finally being pregnant, you find yourself caught up in the revelations of her family as you are drawn into the turmoil and emotions she experiences. The exploration of grief, guilt and family dynamics is touching and thought-provoking.
The story climaxes as the truth about Neil’s death is finally revealed, the resolution is both shocking and satisfying, with all the loose ends neatly tied up. The author’s ability to keep you guessing until the end is fantastic.
“Last Christmas is a riveting thriller that explores the darkest corners of family secrets, betrayal and the consequences of deception. It’s a page-turner that will have you eagerly flipping through the chapters, eager to uncover the truth. Maria Frankland’s skilful storytelling and well-crafted characters make this novel a must-read for fans of psychological suspense and domestic thrillers.

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I really enjoyed this book. The Christmas vibes were low so you could read it anytime. The family drama was top notch and there were a couple of twist that I did not predict. I liked that the three parts were in different points of view and were not choppy. The characters were well written and filled out. My only note is that sometimes the time would jump and it was not well defined pulling me out the flow but it was not too distracting.

Thank you to Netgalley and publishers for this book for review.

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This book was really good! I am all for the Christmas theme thriller and found that it was a great read for the season. The book started a bit slow for my taste and the main character starts off so hatable that I did have trouble geting into it. Once the book got going, then it really got going and I was hooked! I read the last two thirds in one sitting and couldn't put it down! Really recommend for any thriller lovers!

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My first read from this author, but I sincerely hope not my last! This novel is SO good, to say it is 'unputdownable' doesn't do it justice, it is next level (whatever that may be!)

The plot focuses around Sacha, who is unhappily married to Neil. The novel starts with the couple making their way to Sacha's parents to celebrate Christmas, Sacha's father is terminally ill and as this is to be his last Christmas, his 3 daughters and their husbands are congregating to mark the occasion, all good except that celebration is the last thing on Neil's mind, having never got on with his brothers in law, he is dreading the occasion. Battling depression, the scene is set for Neil to set the cat amongst the pigeons....and this he does, quite spectacularly!! Not being one to provide plot spoilers, I won't say more, other than to say read this novel, it is exceptional!

Characters are not all likeable, but they are certainly memorable, as it is genius storyline. This is a novel I cant recommend highly enough.

My thanks to NetGalley, author and publisher for the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an advance copy.

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Last Christmas by Maria Frankland really captivated me from beginning to end. It had lots of twists and turns throughout the entire book
It was highly suspenseful and cleverly written with excellent plot development, interesting characters and a mystery that kept me guessing.
This book captivated me with the well-written plot and the dark twists and turns.
Last Christmas left me wanting more.

I would like to thank NetGalley and Bookouture for the opportunity to read this ahead of its publication date in return for my honest review.

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This book brings psychological thrillers a touch closer to families than perhaps is comfortable, with its turbulent, secret-ridden plot.

A chaotic Christmas, where emotions are already running high, and the pressure to have one last ‘perfect memory-filled’ day, fuelled by alcohol and sniping is a real recipe for disaster.

Three sisters, Sacha, Christy and Rebecca along with their husbands, parents, children and a dog, mix together for an explosive day.

The aftermath, trying to find out the truth, makes for compulsive reading. The author has cleverly crafted flawed characters, who, whilst maybe not likeable, are certainly authentic.

As the story unwraps further, told from several points of view: Neil, Sacha and Christy’s, the plot draws the reader even further into its depths. Then, just when you think you are reaching the crux of the story, events tip you even further into the maelstrom.

Although parts of the story are predictable, they are wrapped in deliciously dark events, secrets, lies and emotions. I loved it!

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In "Last Christmas," the talented Maria Frankland takes readers on a captivating story of loss, and much suspicion.

Centered around Sacha and her husband's untimely death during the holiday season, the story unfolds with unexpected twists and turns, leaving readers eagerly turning the pages to uncover the truth.

When Neil's lifeless body is discovered at the bottom of a cliff, the question of whether it was
suicide, murder, or a tragic accident looms over the story.

Each character is flawed, complex, and harbors their own secrets, making them both relatable and suspicious at the same time.

Maria's ability to create a sense of unease and mystery is outstanding, making this book a perfect choice for those seeking a thrilling and thought-provoking read.

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I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Definitely not the sugary sweet books that are usually the norm with any novel set at Christmas. I loved that the book is split into parts with a different narrator for each. The storyline is engaging and the characters authentic.

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What a good read! Had me interested the whole way though. Read in a day. Kept me guessing and enjoyed that you were reading the story from the different perspectives of the sisters.

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Last Christmas is an intense family drama. A family gathering for their dad’s last Christmas. What should be a treasured memory turns into a suspicious death and mayhem. This family is the definition of dysfunctional. The cracks show immediately and only deepen as the book goes on. The whole book I felt horrible for the mother and father. They have so much emotional heartache going on and their daughters and their husbands make a huge mess of everything. The twists in this book are shocking. I really thought I had the mystery of the death solved and was completely wrong.

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A family Christmas turns deadly when someone ends up dead.

I was expecting this to be really suspenseful and full of twists and turns, but it wasn’t. I would say the real suspense/mystery only takes place in the last third of the book. I was a bit disappointed by this one’s potential that wasn’t realized.

I received my copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I read this book in a day and I never looked back! The twist and the plot were pretty easy to identify but the different POV's kept me intrigued to see how everything was going to unfold. A couple of the characters were so unlikable that it made it hard to feel bad or connect with them in any way. I do wish that the ending would've given a little more, I wanted to know how the characters dealt with the aftermath.


*I received a copy of this eARC via NetGalley*

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Maria Frankland's Last Christmas surprises by venturing beyond the expectations set by its title and cover, offering a compelling family drama wrapped in the trappings of a psychological thriller. The story delves into the lives of Neil and Sacha, a couple struggling with depression, infertility, and other challenges, who find themselves spending Christmas with Sacha's family. As tensions rise and resentments simmer, the stage is set for a tragedy that questions whether it's an accident or the work of a hidden killer within the family. While the plot is engaging, it lacks the traditional thriller's gripping suspense and is often predictable. The characters, deeply flawed and unlikable, may prove a hurdle for some readers, but the book sensitively handles themes of mental health and terminal illness. Despite minimal festive elements, Last Christmas delivers a unique take on family dynamics and personal struggles within the holiday season.

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Most people associate the holidays with earth, good cheer, and time with family.
This Christmas is anything but for Sachs’s family. She wants baby, her husband can’t get it together, her father is failing, and there is an abundance of family fraught to fracture even the strongest bonds.
I felt like a little kid peering around the corner at the presents because I wasn’t expecting anything that I unwrapped while reading this tangled tale.
It kept me on my toes and even the ending was quite surprising.

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Sacha and her husband Neil are heading off to spend Christmas with Sacha’s parents and the rest of her family. It’s likely this will be the last one for her father Stuart as he has terminal cancer.

It soon becomes clear that Neil isn’t particularly fond of Sacha’s family other than her sister Christy none of them seem to have much time for him. Things go from bad to worse when Neil who is also suffering from depression gets himself very drunk on Christmas Eve, falls out with Sacha, and her family. Over the Christmas dinner toast a row breaks out between Neil and his brother in laws and they are sent out to go for a walk and sort out their differences. However only the 2 brother in laws return.

Sacha calls the police and a search is started and it’s not long before the police knock on the door informing Sacha her husbands body has been found at the bottom of a cliff. Suicide is suspected given Neil’s mental state however Sacha knows deep down her husband would never take his own life.

Soon after Neil’s death Sacha discovers she’s pregnant which her sister Rebecca (who is probably one of the most obnoxious characters in book history) decides to announce at Neil’s wake. Upset and angry Sacha leave the wake, only to wake up in hospital a month later after being hit by a car. Clearly someone has it in for Sacha and her family but who.

As the book goes on secrets and lies are unfolded. I was shocked when all was revealed as I hadn’t seen that ending coming. All families have their secrets but some clearly are more deep and darker than others. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be a part of Sacha’s family.

Thank you to NetGalley, the publisher and the author for an advance copy of this book in exchange for this review. I’d certainly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good but slightly different Christmas thriller.

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Sonia and Neil are heading to Sonya‘s parents for a three day Christmas visit and Neil isn’t happy about it at all. As a matter of fact he starts drinking before they even leave Yorkshire Neil already suffers from a form of depression and spending three days with his dying father-in-law and his negative wife doesn’t help his mood. When they arrive and find out they’ll be sleeping on an air mattress because they were the last to arrive it seems like things cannot get worse but they do especially when his brother-in-law Adam and Greg taunt him for not being able to impregnate Sonia but the next day when Greg thinks it’s appropriate to do it at the dinner table and makes a remark about Neil not being a part of the family that Neil has just had enough. He’s already asked Sonia if he can retreat to his dad‘s house and she said no and even made him feel guilty for it so when Greg starts up at the dinner table Neil finally speaks his mind. this is when mom Wendy tells them to leave and sort their differences out and don’t come back until they do but unfortunately only one of them comes back in before it’s over there will be family secrets that are so serious it will leave more than just one woman without a husband. Maria Franklin has nailed it when it comes to family get togethers of course minus the murder because the sisters reactions to each other totally reminded me of my family gatherings and mom windy seemed as if she was riding about my own mother. Having said that the rest was totally new to me and never happened in my family and OMG is it good I haven’t read her books in years but can’t for the life of me remember why because she is such a great writer and has overcome so much to be the thriller writer she is today I not only respect Maria Franklin but lover thriller books and this is a great example of why. I want to thank boldwood books and net galley for my free arc copy please forgive any mistakes as I am blind and dictate my review.

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Just started this book then realised it was familiar. On checking my Goodreads I had read it in December 2021.

It was a thoroughly good domestic thriller which I enjoyed from the beginning until the end and I can certainly recommend.

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