Book Talk on a Thursday: Christmas in Bayberry

Wes has been chasing career success. So has Kate. They just have very different definitions of what that looks like. For Wes, it’s a title, a corner office with a view of Manhattan, and not having to move every year. For Kate, it’s having her family’s Vermont candle company survive another year.

CiBWhen Wes comes to Bayberry, Vermont to analyze the Bayberry Candle Company’s financials and issue a recommendation on its future, he’s flooded with memories of the year his family lived there when he was fifteen. And the girl he wanted to invite to the annual Candlelight Dance on Christmas Eve. But his dad got a new job and they moved before he got the chance.

Kate moved to Bayberry when she was fifteen and her parents were killed in an accident and she was taken in by her aunt. Her aunt is preparing to retire and Kate wants nothing except to keep the family candle business running exactly as it has been for the last three generations.

As Wes and Kate work together, sometimes on divergent paths, they fight their growing attraction. After all, his life is in New York City and hers is in Bayberry. Right?

I enjoyed this new release from Hallmark Publishing. Besides being a taste of Christmas in July (and I live in Central California where 100+ degree days are common, so descriptions of snowball fights and hot chocolate are very welcome!), I enjoyed this sweet romance and its glimpse of two people on two different trajectories and how they were brought together by a failing business, an improbable Santa, and Spirit of Christmas.
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I received a free e-copy of this book from Hallmark Publishing but it did not induce me to leave a review, favorable or not.

Book Talk Tuesday: Christmas on 4th Street

From the beautiful “snowy” cover (the picture doesn’t do the cover justice – you have to see it!) to the delightful story inside, Susan Mallery’s Christmas on 4th Street is the perfect Christmas romance. It’s full of snowy evenings, hot chocolate, shared kisses, and even a Christmas miracle.

CHRISTMAS ON 4TH STREET, romance novel by bestselling author Susan MalleryWe return to Fool’s Gold, California for Noelle’s story. We met Noelle Perkins when she moved to town in Just One Kiss and opened a Christmas store. But we haven’t really gotten to know her until now.

Noelle has recovered from several of life’s hardest challenges: loss of loved ones, health issues, and abandonment and now is ready to fall in love and have her own happily ever after in Fool’s Gold. Too bad she’s attracted to Gabriel, the visiting doctor, because he’s made it clear he’s out of there ASAP. Not to mention he isn’t nearly as enamored of the town as she is.

Gabriel Boylan is Gideon’s brother (Gideon and Felicia fell in love in Two of a Kind). He’s come to visit for the holidays and to heal from an injury he received as an army doctor. His hand mends fine, but the same can’t be said of his war-weary psyche. He plans to grit his teeth and get through the family holiday then bolt back to – well, he’s not sure where, just not Fool’s Gold. A gorgeous and spunky blonde is not in his plans.

I’ve raved here already about the other Fool’s Gold books I’ve read. Christmas on 4th Street is just as good, if not better. The sex scenes are toned down, which is great for me because the only objection I’ve had to the other books is the graphic sex. This one is definitely gentler, as befits a Christmas story.

Now that I’ve read a few more Fool’s Gold books, I’ve noticed another trait that all the men share.

They run.

They feel they’re damaged or broken, too messed up to be a husband or boyfriend. So they bolt. Somewhere in their journey they wake up to the fact that they’ve left their one chance at happiness and love behind. They return, apologize, she forgives, and it’s a happy ending all around.

Gabriel follows the pattern.

It’s not a bad pattern. It’s just, for the first time, I found it predictable. And that very predictability made it a bit anticlimactic. I knew what was coming so I wasn’t engaged in his journey and was just turning pages to get to the happily ever after.

That teeny tiny criticism aside, I really loved this book and highly recommend it.

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I received a free copy of this book in return for an honest review. But I’ll be buying a few copies as gifts this year.