This past week, I was on an audiobook blitz of Christmas Stories. As I finished all my preparations (wrapping gifts, sewing projects, baking, cleaning etc.) I listened to audiobooks. Several were Hallmark romances that I really enjoyed due to the happily ever afters I look for at this time of year. All of these were ebooks that I had been gifted through netgalley at one time, but was able to get the audiobooks from my library through Hoopla. The ratings and opinions shared are my own. I recommend you add these to your TBR for next year’s Christmas Reading or Christmas in July.
Christmas Charms by Teri Wilson, Narrated by Arielle DeLisle
Published October 6th 2020 by Hallmark Publishing, Dreamscape Media
I’m not sure if this book has been made into a Hallmark movie, or if it is planned to be, but if it is, I will definitely watch it. Ashley loves working at the upscale jewelry store in Manhattan, and is hoping to get engaged in Paris over Christmas. When she finds out that her boyfriend doesn’t want to get married in the near future, she realizes that she has been wasting her time and really is not in love with him. She decides to head home for Christmas, her first Christmas in Owl Lake for many years. On the train home, she meets Betty and admires her vintage charm bracelet. When she arrives in Owl Lake, she awakens and realizes that she has the bracelet and Betty is nowhere to be seen. She puts it on for safekeeping, and now can’t get it off. As the story progresses, each of the charms on the bracelet represents a wish she has made throughout her life, and the wishes appear to be coming true. This was a sweet Christmas story about wishes, dreams and following them. Ashley realizes how much she misses her small home town and all the people and customs there, especially her high school sweetheart Aiden. Teri Wilson has written a delightful read, with wonderful characters, and a sense of family and community. The setting of a winter wonderland in this small town added so much to the magic of the story. The plot was well-paced, and kept me interested until the end. The characters were also likable and people that I would love to know. This book is a second chance romance, but also a story about discovering what is really important to you in life and following your heart to fulfill your dreams. Arielle DeLisle does a great job with the narration. She uses her expression and tone to bring the listener into the story. I definitely recommend this one.
Christmas in Bayberry by Jennifer Faye, Emily Rankin (Narrator)
Published July 7th 2020 by Hallmark Publishing, July 21st 2020 by Dreamscape Media
This story is the epitome of a cozy romance. You have a small town with a winter vibe and wonderful Christmas traditions. You have the family business that keeps the town going that is having financial problems, then you have the young woman that wants to save the business and in turn the town. What is a bit different is that the romantic interest is not a big bad city dude come to take over the company and destroy the town, but an analyst, whose job is to see if the company can be viable. When Wes arrives in Bayberry, he remembers how it made him feel years earlier when he lived there. He also remembered the feelings he had for Kate when they first met before his family moved yet again. As they began to have feelings toward one another, Wes began sharing ideas with Kate on how she could improve the company’s finances. He wanted to stay in Bayberry with this woman if he could. I loved the cozy small-town feeling and thought the author did a great job of making the reader feel like they’re right there in Bayberry, enjoying the snowy weather and the town’s Christmas traditions. Wes and Kate are both likable and relatable characters as well as the secondary characters who inhabit the friendly and welcoming town. I wanted Wes and Kate to have their happily ever after, but there are roadblocks and bumps along the way. It is hard for Wes to change his workaholic ways and he knows he needs to do the job he was dispatched to do. Like all Hallmark movies and not books, this is a fun, festive romance with all the Christmas cheer, magic and friendship that goes along with it. One I recommend to all lovers of Christmas romance. Emily Rankin was the narrator of this audiobook. I always enjoy her performances with her tone and expression adding much to the story.
An Unforgettable Christmas by Ginny Baird, Kyla Garcia (Narrator)
Published September 24th 2019 by Hallmark Publishing, Dreamscape Media
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Angie Lopez, a widowed mom, lives with her son, mother and grandmother in a small apartment. She works hard as the bookkeeper, saleswoman at Singleton Jewelers. Her boss, Sam Singleton, is a workaholic with no friends and is estranged from his father. When he slips and hits his head, he needs someone to care for him, but does not want to go to a care home. Angie steps up and brings him into her already crowded home. Sam has lost all memories after the age of 8 and Angie is hoping she can help him recover his lost ones. As Sam begins to learn about his past and his life, he and Angie begin to fall for one another, but both have feelings of insecurity for various reasons. Will these two be able to move forward together? The story uses the lost memory trope to bring the two main characters together, but when you add in Pepe, Angie’s son, and her family it gives it the cozy feel that I enjoy with Christmas romances. As Sam develops in the story, there is a bit of an Ebenezer Scrooge feel, an unhappy childhood, love of money, loss of friends etc. Sam’s reconciliation with his empty life was well-written and paced and kept me very invested in his story. This story evoked a lot of emotion in this reader, especially during the heart warming reconciliation between father and son. I did get a bit frustrated with some of the angst involving Sam and Angie not feeling “good enough” for each other, but eventually they got past it. There was some romance, some tension and some fun moments as the slow building romance develops that had me smiling. Overall, a well written Christmas romance that I recommend. The audiobook, narrated by Kyla Garcia was well done. This is a new narrator to me and I was pleased with her performance. I recommend this book to those who enjoy a sweet Christmas romance.
The Last Christmas Cowboy (#11 Gold Valley Series) by Maisey Yates, Narrated by Samantha Cook
Published October 13th 2020 by HQN Books, Harlequin Audio
This is the 11th book in the Gold Valley series by Maisey Yates, that I have dipped in and out of over the last couple of years. I do not have problems following the story, but sometimes it takes a bit to figure out who is who and who is related to who as I have not read them in order. This is a cowboy romance, with family and friendship being an integral part of the story. The Daniels family are central to this series. They have suffered tragedy in the past and as each story ends, one of them finds their happily ever after. In this book Rose is determined to find a man for her older sister Iris. Rose feels that Iris is alone because she was so busy raising her. Things do not always work out the way she plans and she ends up making a bet with Logan, a man that has lived with her family for years and is almost like a brother. Logan believes the man Rose is trying to set Iris up is interested in Rose, she does not believe it. Well, she loses the bet and what she gets for that loss, changes both her and Logan’s lives. This is a character driven story with the various siblings and friends moving in and out of the events. There are some rather descriptive love scenes in this story that I skimmed. There was some angst in this one as there is whenever someone has a lot of baggage. Logan has to forgive not only himself but some others so that he can move forward. Rose is very naive and young, which made for some interesting scenes in the story. This was an enjoyable story, but not the best I have read in this series. I listened to this book narrated by Samantha Cook. The performance was good, with her expression and tone distinguishing the characters rather than her trying to change her voice all the time. This made for an enjoyable listen to this story.