Tis the season for the cozy Christmas reads. I took this chance to try a new to me author in a book featuring a small town holiday romance. This story is part of the Jewell Cove series which I haven’t read, but I had no trouble picking it up as a standalone.
The story opens with Charlie Yang, one of the newest members of the Jewell Cove community taking the plunge to do something outside her comfort zone. She has never been a joiner or one to do something spontaneous, but this is her new start away from her parents’ demands and disappointment in her. Instead of a big city medical research doctor, she has chosen to be a small town GP. She will have a home, a family and be a part of something and this is first effort to gain all those things she wants, but never had as a child in her own family. She let herself get talked into helping some other volunteers set up the church nativity scene and put up lights. As she sets up the manger for the church display and has a heart to heart with baby Jesus about her silly wish to know the dreamy man who works on the boats down at the docks, she is interrupted by the same dreamy man she has been watching from afar. She doesn’t know what to do when she encounters him up close and personal and he seems to be flirting with her like she is pretty and fun. But then they rescue an abandoned infant together and tentatively try dating. Should she give the attraction she feels for him a chance even though Dave doesn’t fit into her life plan or protect her heart and let him go for someone who is more settled.
Dave Ricker is new to Jewell Cove and just trying to figure things out. He left the military and moved to Maine to be closer to his ex and his daughter so he could be a part of his child’s life. Having the moment when he and Charlie find the abandoned baby together and helping her get the baby settled gets him involved in something other than work for the first time since his move. Spending time with Charlie changes things a bit as he starts to feel it’s more than a light encounter. He’s usually one to go with the flow and let things happen, but she’s his opposite with her long term plans and expectations. He doesn’t even know if he’s going to stay in Jewell Cove. He needs to just let this go and let Charlie move on to someone who can give her what she wants, right?
Since this is a novella-length story, it gets to things quickly which I don’t mind so long as I’ve been given enough to have some meat to the story. This one did well with that. The story starts out seeming like it is about a socially awkward loner woman learning how to really live and love, but then later it is revealed that she is not the only one struggling with the love part.
The characters and their situations are put out there as the story unfolds. Charlie is a more developed character than Dave though they share the narration. I would have liked to tease out Dave’s character more though it’s not totally devoid of background and personality. They take turns freaking out and emotionally withdrawing over the attraction between them which is why their ‘I love you’s came a bit too soon for me. I felt like they were saying it more toward a future deep commitment rather than the current situation and more about keeping the other from bolting again. They come across as opposites and are to a certain extent, but end up being alike in their relationship issues.
While I enjoyed the story overall, I was only moderately into it mostly because I wasn’t very into the characters. I didn’t hate them and even rooted for them to find their Christmas happily ever after, but eh… Charlie’s pretty uptight- though I get why with the type of home life she had- and I really didn’t get a good read on Dave so I could only engage in their romance so far. His issues came out of the blue for me and then were just left with not a lot of explanation as the story turned the focus back to Charlie. They had some sweet moments with the baby and good times together including a passionate encounter, but anytime it got good one or the other one would do a runner.
The Christmas theme was nicely balanced with the story. The small town festivities and Christmas activities were a nice touch. Their date for the Christmas lighting and the one for the festival were adorable scenes.
So while I didn’t fully connect with the characters and their romance, I still had a good time with this slightly spice small town holiday romance.
My thanks to St. Martin’s Press and Net Galley for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.
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