I am still enjoying my Christmas in July books and have reached my goal of ten Christmas books for the month. I still have a few more to go, but am happy to have reached the goal I set. Scroll down for my latest three reviews.
25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander
Published October 8th 2019 by William Morrow Paperbacks
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The description of this book, “In this heartwarming, feel-good holiday novel” is a bit deceiving. Yes, there is a happy and heartwarming ending, but their is a lot of not-so-happy things that happen before we get there. I really enjoyed this story, but it was not an easy read, fluffy, Christmas tale. Kate Potter is a single mom, who has struggled since the death of her husband while serving in the army. She has a terrible job and her employers are constantly reminding her that her contract is up for renewal soon, in order to get her to do whatever crappy job they assign her. Her son, Jack, is a sweetheart, but he has his own struggles, especially at school. This year, Kate is gifted an Advent Calendar from a co-worker and she plans on a Christmas countdown to give Jack his best Christmas ever. The other main character is Daniel. Daniel’s sister, Zoe, had Down’s Syndrome, but Daniel did everything he could to give her a normal, happy life. They bought their Christmas tree from Kate for the past few years, but she passed away during the last year. They realize they are both sad and a bit lost and develop a friendship to console one another.
The holidays are a trigger for sadness and depression for many people, and both Kate and Daniel are two of them. Kate is strong, she needs to be for Jack, but this young woman has so much on her plate. While working a low paying, thankless job, she has to deal with the school system to get Jack what he needs, support her husband’s grandmother, who is in a nursing home with dementia, deal with all the stuff piled on her at work and be a loving mother. I am in awe of the compassion she still has for others. Jack is another selfless character. While dealing with his grief, he volunteers for a suicide hotline, works even though he is supposed to be on vacation and tries to support Kate and Jack. I loved these characters, and connected with them. The story felt realistic and believable because every situation faced by these characters is part of everyday life for many of us. There are some very serious themes in this story such as depression, grief, loneliness, suicide, learning disorders, dementia, dealing with government officials and funding, sexual harassment and how developmentally disabled persons are treated. Yes, there is happiness, caring, kindness, friendship and some romance as well, because that is what keeps these characters going. I definitely recommend this book, especially because it opens eyes to what others are dealing with and it made me appreciate all the good things in my life. It also offers hope and that is something I love about Christmas. I was fortunate to win a copy of this book a couple of years ago from Mischenko at ReadRantRock&Roll and thank her for that.
Puppy Christmas (Forever Home #2) by Lucy Gilmore, Lauren Sweet (Narrator)
Published September 24th 2019 by Dreamscape Media LLC, Sourcebooks Casablanca
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Lila is considered the stern, too perfect older Vasquez sister who runs and operates Puppy Promise. They are working with an organization that recommends and supports service dogs for children who have issues with their hearing. She is going to be the trainer for their newest client, a young girl who is receiving a service dog due to her degenerative hearing loss. They are at a fundraiser, and Lila, who doesn’t get out much, is dressed in a pink bridesmaid gown. Mistaken by a lost girl as a princess, they strike up a friendship. It just so happens, this is the child, Emily, she will be working with and when she meets her father, handsome, flirty, always-ready-with-a-smile Ford she knows she is in trouble. Ford is happy taking care of Emily and does not have time for relationships, even though he has lots of opportunity, but something clicks when he meets Princess Lila and sees how she treats his daughter.
This story is a sweet and fun romance that is set during the Christmas holidays. It is not what I would consider a Christmas story, but it was enjoyable. I had such a fun time reading this book and getting to know Lila and Ford and cute as a button Emily. Emily picks out her puppy to work with and names him Jeeves von Hinklebottom the Third, too cute, just like the puppy. There were so many heartwarming moments in this book. The meeting of Lila, Ford and Emma is so amazing. Imagine going to a fundraiser in a bubblegum pink dress and being mistaken for a real princess, as well as meeting a swoon worthy dad who is a big flirt, but loves his daughter to pieces. That sets the tone for this story. Lila works hard to train Jeeves and set up her business, but along the way, becomes friends with Emily and falls in love with her as well as her dad. A sweet story, but with one scene that took me by surprise. There is an episode of graphic phone sex, that I did fast forward through. I don’t think it was necessary in this story, but it knocked it down a star for me. If you enjoy a story about cute puppies, cute kids, sweet romance and building up self-confidence, then pick this one up. Lauren Sweet narrated the audiobook and does a good job with her emotion, expression and tone. I enjoyed her performance.
A Highlander is Coming to Town (Highland, Georgia #3) by Laura Trentham
Published September 29th 2020 by St. Martin’s Paperbacks
I have enjoyed the first two books in the Highland, Georgia series, and this one did not disappoint. The Highlander in this story happens to be a woman. Claire Smythe is the Scottish lead singer of a touring band, but when they perform in Highland Georgia, she decides it is a place she wants to stay and hide in, until she turns 25 and receives her inheritance. She takes a job as a live-in carer of a reclusive retired teacher. She meets up with her neighbour, Holt Pierson, when her bicycle gets a flat on her way back from the market. They hit it off, and even though she is warned to steer clear of the handsome farmer, it is easier said than done. But Claire has a huge secret, and she can’t drag Holt into her family problems. Will she stay in Highland and begin a new life with Holt, or will she head home to Scotland to take her place in the family business?
This the third book in this series by Laura Trentham but it can be read as a stand-alone. I recommend you read them all, because this is such a fun and enjoyable series. Both Claire and Holt are at a crossroads in their lives. Holt has taken over running the family farm as his parents have retired and are traveling. He is not looking forward to the upcoming holiday season being alone. When he meets Claire, it doesn’t take long to realize that they get along and enjoy one another’s company. I loved Ms. Meadows. She needs help, but has been so self sufficient over the years, she has a hard time accepting it. She is a bit grumpy, but as the story progresses, you see a woman who is having a tough time aging gracefully. I love the relationship she eventually develops with Claire. As Holt and Claire do some self-reflection, they begin to realize what they really want out of life. Their relationship isn’t easy, with secrets getting in the way, but they eventually make decisions for their own happiness. There are a couple of descriptive sex scenes, but they move the story along and you can skim them if you don’t like reading those scenes. This was another good addition to this series, that I enjoyed, even if it wasn’t as Christmassy as I had hoped. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.