I am well into reading Christmas stories as well as reading books for my 20 Books for Christmas Challenge. Each of the books here was available in both ebook and audiobook. I did a read/listen and enjoyed them all in both formats. The audiobooks were all well done and added to my enjoyment of the stories. All were provided to me by the publishers upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
Meet Me In London (Meet Me #1) by Georgia Toffolo (Author, Narrator)
Published September 28th 2021 by Harlequin Audio,
Aspiring clothes designer Victoria Scott is an aspiring designer, who spends her days working in a bar in Chelsea, and her evenings designing vintage clothes. Oliver Russell is in Chelsea to take over the opening of the family’s newest store that his cousin has bungled. Neither of them are interested in dating due to things in their pasts, but they agree to a fake relationship that will benefit them both.
I really enjoyed Meet Me in London. It was an enjoyable and fun story. I enjoyed the fake girlfriend/fiancée trope. Both Victoria and Oliver are likable characters who want to help others. Oliver’s family has always wanted him to take over for his father, but it is not what he wants. Now that his father is having health problems, he steps up. I liked his mother and how she wants him to be happy, thinking he just needs to find the right person to love. Victoria wants to help the neighbourhood businesses as well as the design students she works with, so this fake relationship benefits her, but when she starts falling for Oliver, she needs to get out fast. The way they interact and hide their feelings towards one another is so cute. This is an enjoyable Christmas romance with other issues included. Themes deal with infertility, family pressure, guilt, jealousy and fall out from secrets. Of course there is a happily ever after, so even though it is not all smiles along the way, there is an uplifting and happy ending. The audiobook was narrated by the author and she does a nice job. She added emotion to the story using tone and expression. I definitely recommend this one to those looking for a fun and enjoyable Christmas read. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.
Mistletoe Season (The Carolina Girls #2) by Michelle Major, Carly Robins (Narrator)
Expected publication: October 26th 2021 by Harlequin Audio, HQN Books
5 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Mistletoe Season is the second book in The Carolina Girls series, but can be read as a standalone. This story features Anji Guilardi, who we met in Wildflower Season. Anji became a partner in Magnolia’s Wildflower Inn, as the chef and meal planner, but when her mother has a heart attack, she is needed back at the family restaurant. Trying to balance both jobs is crazy. At the same time, Gabriel Carlyle, Gabe, someone from her past has returned to Magnolia due to hid grandmother’s health. He is going to try and bring her flower shop back to its former glory, until his mother informs him that it is her inheritance and as soon as his grandmother dies, she plans on selling the business. As they spend time together trying to support each other, they also develop feelings toward each other. Neither of them is ready or willing to get into a relationship, but will Christmas magic change that?
I enjoyed this story. Anji and Gabe had a past, as they were both bullied some in highschool. Gabe left to enlist and is not sure what is next for him, he does not plan in staying in Magnolia once his grandma is gone. Anji is crazy busy trying to run the restaurant, deal with her mother and not let her friend down, so has no time for a relationship, but feelings have a way of sneaking up on someone. Anji’s mom is hard to like at times. She is that Italian mom who thinks she knows what is best of her daughter and that means finding her a man. She is also stuck in the past and has ideas about what is best for the restaurant and not changing anything about her memories of her husband who started the restaurant. She won’t listen to Anji and bullies her to give in and give up. Of course Gabe is the perfect one for her fake romance to get her mom off her back as well as some of the nasty townsfolk from her past. Gabe’s grandma is adorable. She loves him to bits and with dementia, she also supports Gabe and Anji in a relationship. All does not go smoothly in their budding relationship or in trying to make decisions in each of their futures, but eventually, they find their Happily Ever After. I really enjoyed this holiday romance and recommend it. The audiobook was narrated by Carly Robins. I have listened to other books she has narrated and am pleased with her performances. Her voices are very distinguishable and it is easy to identify who is speaking. The pacing, inflection and expression are right on. A very enjoyable story to listen to.
Sleigh Bells Ring by RaeAnne Thayne, Stacy Gonzalez (Narrator)
Expected publication: October 26th 2021 by Harlequin Books, Harlequin Audio
4 Stars: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
Angel’s View Ranch has always been special to Annelise, aka Annie, McCade grew up on Angel’s View Ranch. It used to be owned by her family until her grandfather sold it to billionaire Wallace Sheridan. Wallace hired Annie as the live-in caretaker, but he recently died. No one else in the family loves the ranch like he did, so the plan is to have a memorial service for him, then the family will sell the ranch. Annie now has much on her mind. Her brother, recently widowed, is serving a month in jail for repeated drunk and disorderlies, so his adorable six year old twins are living with their aunt. The last thing she needs is to have unrequited feelings for Tate Sheridan. With no cook available, Annie also needs to pitch in with meals and spend even more time with the Sheridans. Tate is dealing with issues of his own. He doesn’t want to take over the Sheridan business, but loves working in their charities. He also doesn’t want to say good-bye to his grandfather. He quickly falls for Annie and her niece and nephew, and the feelings are mutual. Can they act on these feelings, especially as the family plans to sell her home?
This is a predictable Christmas story, but it doesn’t mean that it is not an enjoyable one. I loved the characters, especially Alice and Henry, the twins. They are adorable and totally honest and unaffected by all that is going on around them. There is a lot of baggage within the Sheridan family that is the reason for them not coming to the ranch in years which adds so much to the story. Throw in not one, but two romances that are sweet, yet love at first sight relationships. Annie and Bree were best friends when they were young and it is nice to see that relationship rekindled. With themes of guilt, forgiveness, grief, addiction and recovery, family, charity and Christmas Magic, this is a story that I definitely recommend. I did a read/listen with this book and enjoyed both equally. The audiobook is narrated by Stacy Gonzalez. I enjoyed her performance very much. She had great expression and tone while presenting this story. She gave voice to the various characters that me to differentiate between the characters for the most part. I did find her male voices sounded quite similar but it did not diminish my enjoyment of the story. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book upon request. The rating and opinions shared are my own.