This review is based on a complimentary book I received from NetGalley. It is an honest and voluntary review. The complimentary receipt of it in no way affected my review or rating.Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle
Genres: Contemporary, Holiday Romance
Release Date: October 10, 2017
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Purchase at: Amazon ◊ Barnes & Noble ◊ Book Depository ◊ Google Play ◊ Kobo ◊ IndieBound ◊ Target ◊ iBooks ◊ Publisher
A recently divorced woman and her daughter look for a fresh start by moving to a small town that embraces them in ways that only fate and the magic of Christmas can explain.
Sydney Ragsdale is divorced, but her husband is still calling the shots. In an attempt to shake free from his hold, she and her daughter, Ray Anne, head for tiny Hopewell, NC to the only asset her ex has no control over – a decaying farmhouse that once belonged to her grandparents. She finds solace at The Book Bea, the bookstore she’d loved as a child during her summer stays.
Kevin MacAlea, Mac to his friends, is the local high school history teacher and baseball coach. Father of a twelve-year-old son, he’s Hopewell, North Carolina’s most sought after bachelor. His young bride abandoned him and his son just before Christmas and has never come back. It has left his son bitter about Christmas which is hard for Mac who loves the magic of the season. He’s been the Santa here in Hopewell since the year Seth was born. But when a catastrophe forces The Book Bea to close before the end of the year, everyone in the small town is feeling the loss. While Sydney is already off-balance by the bad news, her ex-husband breaks a promise to their daughter that sends Ray Anne running away. As Sydney tries to figure out what her next steps are she discovers all of the answers are right here in Hopewell.
In at Hope at Christmas, the story of Sydney’s character was written realistically and I appreciated that. It is hard for anyone to recover after revelations that lead to divorce and I think that there are many people who can relate to her feelings and the defenses she had in place. Mac’s character also had his share of loss but from a different viewpoint. I liked that his character had already been through the loss and was on the other side so that he did not have his own emotional baggage to contend with.
Hope at Christmas was a really sweet story that created such vivid imagery of a holiday season that it truly gave me a hankering for the holidays to start and I had an overpowering urge to want to start the seasonal baking that I do each year. Definitely gave me a whole ‘the magic of Christmas’ feeling. There are several classic Christmas traditions that are included in this story such as tree decorating, caroling and lots of baking. Plus, there are traditions that revolve around quaint small town living.
Wrapped up in all this Christmas goodness there was a real story of love and loss and I appreciated that the loss was not only described for the mother but for the daughter as well. Both of these characters had to create a new path for themselves in their hearts and struggle with what moving on from such loss means. Also, this is a Christmas story but there is not a great influence from the religious aspect of the holiday. It is more about the traditions that surround the holiday and the ‘good cheer’ vibe of the season.
Even though I did enjoy this heartwarming story it did drag a little for me. I am not a big fan of small town anything so a story set in a small town, well not my cup of tea. I was looking for a holiday romance read but there was actually very little of that in this story. More elements of romance rather than it being a true romance story. So, the whole small town thing, meh, but I did appreciate the overall rediscovery of love and rewarding experiences for the characters.
Hope at Christmas is a story that actually encompasses the Christmas holiday and it is filled with Christmas traditions and holiday fun. Plus, a lot of the story revolves around an independent bookstore and several lovely characters. As a bibliophile, I can say that I adored that element! If you are looking for a clean holiday story that has a sweet romance element and all the goodness of Christmas time, then Hope at Christmas is a perfect choice for you.
*Thank you to Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press for this eARC of Hope at Christmas*
Looking for an EXCLUSIVE excerpt? Check out this link at USA Today HERE!
Holiday Q&A with Author Nancy Naigle:
When do the holidays official start for you?
I used to believe I was an “after Thanksgiving” gal when it came to gearing up for the holidays, however, the last two years I’ve had Christmas books come out in October so I’m totally amped up extra early. Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas starts in late October too, and I’ll be tuned into those movies no matter when they start. So, Merry Christmas with a pumpkin and turkey feather on top!
What’s your favorite thing about the holidays?
The smell of pine from a fresh cut tree throughout the house, and getting more intense every time I vacuum up the needles. Warm aromatic afternoons of baking. Crafting homemade gifts. Fellowship. Christmas movies and cocoa. Glossy gift wrap, and wire ribbon that makes a simple shoelace bow look pretty on a package.
Are there any holiday traditions you do every year without fail?
Baking cookies. Old family favorites, and a few new recipes which always results in at least one complete #fail.
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
My favorite all-time holiday movie is the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is still my very, very favorite. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I still tear up when the Abominable Snowman bonks poor Rudolph on the head. Thank goodness for good ol’ Hermie the wanna-be dentist!
Do you have a favorite holiday book?
I love all those special sized hardcover holiday books. I have a shelf dedicated to them. One that I really love is by Debbie Macomber — THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT CHRISTMAS. The beautiful gold cover perfectly envelopes the warm story inside.
What’s your all-time favorite holiday song?
What’s your favorite activity during fall or winter?
Bundling up and stargazing on a chilly night.
What’s your favorite gift you’ve ever received or given?
Homemade gifts. Always! Among them, an old Singer sewing machine with the metal frame turned into a table, a handcrafted snack jar made out of wood with a mason jar, loop potholders, and homemade Christmas ornaments. A girl can never have too many ornaments, right?
Do you have any items on your wish list this year?
I don’t have any tangible items on my wish list. Making happy memories is all I wish for this year.
Any resolutions or goals for next year?
To live a healthier lifestyle, and figure out how to do that while integrating more book events into my schedule so I can meet more of the dear readers who’ve blessed me with spending their free time reading my books. Thanks, y’all.