Welcome home to Mountain Meadow, Virginia—a small town with a big heart, where love is just around the corner…
All Holly Morgan wants is a safe place to have her baby. Nestled deep within the Blue Ridge Mountains, miles away from her abusive ex-fiancé, Spence, Mountain Meadow seems perfect. Holly can manage a few meddling church matrons if it means Spence can’t find her. Harder to handle is Jake Allred. He may be a dark-haired hunk, but he’s also someone Holly can’t trust: a cop.
Since his time in the military, Lieutenant Jake Allred has lived to protect and serve. And if anyone needs protection, it’s Holly. Having been let down by the law before, she’s wary of letting Jake into her life. But when an unexpected snow storm strands them together, their attraction is hot enough to melt the mounting ice. Just when Jake thinks he’s finally warmed Holly’s heart, Spence strikes. Now it’s up to Jake to save Holly’s baby and bring their fledgling family back together.
Source: ARC from Lyrical Press (Kensington Books) via NetGalley
This is a very sweet romantic tale that deals with some dark issues (TW: sexual assault) but in a strangely light and upbeat way. Considering that Holly is running away from an abusive ex (although I was never quite sure whether he just used threats or if there was more – Holly doesn’t say, leaving Jake to fill in the blanks), she does start off suspicious but soon gives into Jake’s adorable ways. And he is adorable – a man who wants a family, who has a big house he can’t wait to fill and will do anything for Holly, even when she clearly doesn’t trust him. In fact, he’s possibly just a little too good to be true.
Which sort of sums this book up for me. Everyone is just a bit too nice. Jake is near perfect, Holly is astonishingly upbeat (once her daughter is born, anyway) even after the worst happens. Then there’s the secondary romantic plot between Jake’s best friends, Evan and Doc Jenny, which deals with some truly dark things, yet the pair of them cope incredibly well and come through, if not entirely unscathed, at least appearing so.
This is a nice book about nice people, and even when terrible things happen other nice people come along to save them, or at least they have nice people around to help them. I have to admit that the sheer weight of loveliness was a bit much towards the end. Things are happening that are bad and terrible and the wait to see what Holly’s ex-fiancé will do is almost unbearable, yet Holly’s bouncing around as the eternal optimist and her little brother is the spirit of Christmas given human form. There are also hints of Christmas miracles and peace and love and joy to all men, and since it is now May it was just a bit over the top.
However, if you need something light and lovely, where even the bad stuff is made to go away, the good most definitely outweighs the bad and you don’t mind enough sugar to put you into a sugar coma, then you should give this a try. Be prepared for some dark matter, even if it doesn’t touch the characters too deeply, but be certain that the sun will come out tomorrow. And if you need a little bit of Christmas magic in your life, regardless of the actual season, then this will certainly fit the bill.
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