I just finished my last two Christmas novels and thought I’d review them together.
In Hope for Christmas: A Small Town Christmas Romance Novella by Malissa Chapin, Merry Noel (who insists her last name is pronounced Knoll, not No-el) is trying to close one last deal before Christmas Day. If she can’t get everything together for it, the client will call the deal off. But her office is in the midst of a Christmas party and she can’t get anyone to make copies or do the things needed to close the deal.
Even without the pressure of this last deal, though, Merry hated Christmas and wouldn’t be celebrating.
After a disastrous series of events, Merry ends up losing her job. She didn’t want to go home to Wisconsin, but she has nowhere else to turn.
Having gotten used to city life in Atlanta, Merry chafes at going back to the farm. And how crazy was it to come back when the whole town was in the throes of their annual community Christmas celebration.
But her mother’s new neighbor, time with her mother, a blizzard, and an unexpected visitor in need all help Merry face her issues.
When I first started reading this, I thought it was going to be a modern retelling of A Christmas Carol. A couple of Merry’s coworkers even call her Ms. Scrooge. But Merry’s motivations aren’t related to business or finance.
I very much enjoyed Merry’s journey and this story, which were both heart-warming and faith-filled.
Malissa is the author of a book I read and loved last year, The Road Home (linked to my review). She also wrote Murder Goes Solo: A Piper Haydn Piano Mystery, which I have not read yet. Cozy mysteries are not my favorite fare, but I do read them sometimes, so I probably will check this out at some point.
I had not heard of Beth Moran before. But I had finished my audiobook a few days before Christmas and wouldn’t get another Audible credit until the end of the month. So I looked around Audible’s “free with a subscription” selection, and Beth’s Christmas Every Day caught my eye. I’m wary of modern secular fiction because usually it has bad language or bedroom scenes. But I figured this was low risk–if I came across something objectionable, I could just delete it from my library.
Jenny is another Christmas-hater, but for different reasons. Since her parents’ divorce, she usually spent holidays alone. But in light of her impending engagement, she has every hope that she’ll spend Christmas in a lovely place with a real family this year.
But then her boss/secret boyfriend announces an engagement not with Jenny, but with her beautiful, popular twin sister.
Jenny leaves for an old cottage in Sherwood Forest that she inherited from her grandmother, who passed away six years earlier. She expected the place to need a little clean-up. But she hadn’t known her grandmother had become a hoarder or that the house would need so much.
She gets off on the wrong foot with her curmudgeonly neighbor, Mack. But slowly, she begins to form friendships with other people in the village and gets a job.
Then she’s invited to an unusual book club. A couple of the participants are so cantankerous that they can’t agree on what books to read. So the group decides to shift focus and work on a personal challenge for the coming year, reporting on their progress at the monthly meetings instead of books. A private investigator wants to learn to bake. A dying older woman has a list of daring feats she wants to accomplish. A single mom wants to find a good man with whom she can have a real relationship. A super-fan wants to find the location of a reclusive author said to live in their area and invite her to the book club.
As Jenny deals with the house, her new job of minding a lively family of five children, her neighbor, and her new friends, she finally learns what belonging and family are all about.
This story is funny in places and heart-warming in others. Jenny’s series of comedic disasters got a little old at one point—but I guess I got used to them, or maybe they just toned down a bit. They kept happening but didn’t seem so outlandish as at first.
Even though this is written from a secular standpoint, there was a really good section on forgiveness.
There was a smattering of bad words, but otherwise the story was very clean.
Helen Keely did a superb job narrating the audiobook. I had to slow down the narration just a tad, as the British accent spoken very quickly was hard to understand in places.
I liked this books so well that I am willing to try more from this author. And I hope Helen Keely narrates them all.