Book Review: Christmas in Vermont

vermont

Title: Christmas in Vermont
Author: Anita Hughes
Genre: Romance
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Pages: 304
Format Read: Ebook
Standalone or series: Standalone
Where I got the book: NetGalley ARC
Date finished reading: October 15, 2019

Goodreads Description: Emma can’t believe her luck when she finds an open pawn shop on Christmas Eve in Manhattan. She’s there to sell the beautiful bracelet her ex-boyfriend gave her when a familiar looking watch catches her eye. It’s the same engraved watch she gave her college boyfriend, Fletcher, years ago. On a whim, she trades the bracelet for the watch and wonders at the timing.

Practical Emma thinks it’s just a coincidence, but her best friend Bronwyn believes it’s the magic of synchronicity that caused Emma to find the watch. Fletcher was the one that got away, and somehow Emma never quite moved on.

When Bronwyn finds out that Fletcher is in snowy Vermont at a romantic inn for the week, she can’t help but give synchronicity a push. She signs Emma up to help the inn keeper as the children’s activity coordinator. Emma agrees that a week filled with quaint shops and maple syrup would do her good… and maybe Fate really does have a Christmas gift in store for her. That is until she sees Fletcher with his daughter and fiancée.

Suddenly, the fairytale trip seems doomed to fail… much like the innkeeper’s dwindling cashflow. It will take a miracle to save her heart and the inn. And that just might be what Fate has in mind.

Christmas in Vermont is a delightful and charming love story about the magic of second chances during the most festive time of year.

My Review: I was very excited to receive this ARC from NetGalley of Christmas in Vermont. I love a good Christmas romance. Before I dive in to writing down my thoughts, I want to take a brief moment to mention that this was poorly edited. I realize that I received a proof, but this was the worst ARC I’ve ever received as far as grammar. The grammar mistakes were constant. I think the publisher should have fixed at least some of the mistakes before releasing the proof. The timeline headers were incorrect at times; there were many errors with incorrect words (such as “hear” instead of “heart”); and the worst was during a dialog when it stated that Emma was speaking when it should have been Lola, because Emma was not even in that room or conversation. Those errors truly distracted me from the actual story. Is this typical with ARC copies?

I really enjoyed the first half of the book. I think Emma finding the watch that she gave Fletcher at the same pawn shop where she is selling a piece of jewelry that an ex-boyfriend had given her was definitely a sign or fate. It was a strong start, because it sucked me in to want to know who Fletcher was and why that watch was in a pawn shop. Then having Emma’s best friend, Bronwyn, stalk Fletcher on social media and set up a plan to have Emma vacation at the same hotel in Vermont as Fletcher for the holidays was quite entertaining. Emma ends up connecting with Fletcher’s daughter, Lola, before she connects with Fletcher. When Fletcher first sees Emma again after many years since their college romance, she is playing the piano in a talent show as accompaniment for Lola’s singing. It is a wonderful scene.

I don’t know how much I enjoyed the book after that. Lola was a great character. She was so witty for a nine year old. Her relationship with Emma was so adorable. Betty was a sweet character as well. I was not sure I cared much for the other supporting characters though. I guess Megan was a strong enough character. One of those characters that you love to hate. However, those scenes where Fletcher is talking to his best friend, I don’t see how that character or those scenes added to the story.

Once Megan was gone, the story really fizzled for me. Of course, you want Fletcher and Emma to be together, but I just did not feel that spark. There could have been more romantic moments with them. I felt that their connection seemed stronger when the story would revert to a decade earlier and share moments from their original romance in college than the present day romance. I am still happy that Fletcher and Emma ended up together in the end, but I think I would have also liked an epilogue that jumped forward 364 days as assurance for the reader that Emma did not bail on this relationship like she did in her previous relationships.

This story had some strong characters and scenes. It made me want to visit Vermont. I did like it, but I did not love it.

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½

Book Review: The Trouble With Christmas

christmasTitle: The Trouble With Christmas
Author: Amy Andrews
Genre: Romance
Publisher: Entangled Publishing
Publication Date: September 24, 2019
Pages: 400
Format Read: Book
Standalone or series: Book 2 of Credence, Colorado series
Where I got the book: BookishFirst
Date finished reading: September 21, 2019

Goodreads Description: All Suzanne St. Michelle wants is an over-the-top, eggnog-induced holiday with her best friend in Credence, Colorado. But when her hoity-toity parents insist she come home for Christmas in New York, she blurts out that her sexy landlord is actually her boyfriend and she can’t leave him—Joshy loves Christmas. The more twinkle lights the better.

Rancher Joshua Grady does not love Christmas. Or company, or chatty women. Unfortunately for him, the chattiest woman ever has rented the cottage on his ranch, invited her rich, art-scene parents, and now insists he play “fake rancher boyfriend” in a production of the Hokiest Christmas Ever. And somehow…she gets him to agree.

Apparently, he’ll do anything to get his quiet life back. At least there’s mistletoe every two feet—and kissing Suzy is surprisingly easy. But in the midst of acres of tinsel, far too many tacky Christmas sweaters, and a tree that can be seen from space, he’s starting to want what he lost when he was a kid—a family. Too bad it’s with a woman heading back to New York before the ball drops…

My Review: This book becomes available to the public today! Even though this book is the second book in a series, it works pretty well as a standalone. I think the first book might just give you a bit more background into the town and some of the supporting characters in The Trouble With Christmas. I think my favorite part of this book was the town and its interesting characters, so I feel the author has got the setting right for sure.

Suzanne St. Michelle escapes New York City for a holiday in Credence to inspire her to create her own artwork (legal art forgery is a thing and is Suzanne’s main job in NYC). She ends up renting the cottage at the ranch that Joshua Grady runs. The attraction between the two main characters, Suzanne St. Michelle and Joshua Grady, is definitely there, but it takes so long to get there. The first 100 pages were slow and somewhat boring. Much of the character development actually happens when the story picks up, so I don’t really see the need for such a long plot setup. The one big plot point from the first 100 pages that plays a recurring role throughout the story is that Joshua Grady appears to be Suzanne’s muse, so she paints him A LOT. She paints him as Michelangelo’s David, Da Vinci’s The Vitruvian Man and even on a cherub. Once he discovers these paintings, he is horrified and wants those paintings (I assumed to dispose of). She ends up using the paintings as a bribe to get him to play her fake boyfriend for her parents over the holidays. I can get behind the fake boyfriend concept, but the paintings were a bit much. If I found out that someone painted me without my permission, I would definitely do what I could to legally take them and destroy them. It’s creepy and a bit stalker-like. It was a plot point I found a hard time moving passed, but I can admit that it is unique for sure.

When Suzanne’s parents arrive, the story really picks up and becomes a lot of fun. The side story is that Suzanne’s parents’ marriage is on the rocks, and so they are in Credence for their relationship as well as for their daughter, and you can’t help but support their reunification. At this point in the story, the two main characters really start to display their attraction for each other, and the line between this being a fake relationship and a real relationship gets blurred. At the end, Suzanne uses her paintings again to manipulate Joshua, and it works one more time to give the reader a nice happy ending.

I think I would have loved the story a bit more if it was just a bit shorter by cutting much of the first 100-150 pages. However, it is a romantic story with a holiday setting filled with snow and Christmas decorations. It is a nice way to start getting in the holiday spirit!

My Rating: ♦ ♦ ♦ ½