“Christmas, my child, is love in action. Every time we love, every time we give, it’s Christmas.” — Dale Evans
A week before Christmas, Jeseca Reed sets off for Blue River, Oregon—her childhood home and a vault of tender memories. However, fate takes an unexpected turn when she’s left stranded in the mountains’ vast, untamed wilderness. Desperate and alone, she seeks shelter at a cottage and finds herself in the arms of a mysterious stranger.
Dr. David Drake was once a renowned cardiovascular surgeon. But a devastating tragedy has left him scarred both inside and out, unable to use his hands to operate again. For the past five years, his Blue River cottage has been his sole escape—a safe haven where he can shut out the world, bury himself in his grief, and reunite with his son’s memory.
Together they are summer and winter. Fire and ice. And yet a poignant connection forms between them. Jeseca awakens David and thaws his heart with a romance hot enough to melt snow. But before David and Jeseca can fully embrace each other, they must wade through darkness and confront the ghosts of their pasts …
Equal parts steamy and heartfelt, A Kindled Winter brings the spirit of the holidays to life with a passionate story of second chances and healing love.
Source: ARC from the author
This is an emotional holiday tale about grief and getting lost (figuratively and literally) in a blizzard. Jeseca is a bubbly woman who seems to be on the right track to following her dreams, while David is practically a recluse who prefers the company of his dog to people staring at his terrible scars. Yet both of them know how it is to lose those closest to them, and though they may seem very different on the surface, inside they’re far more similar than they can imagine.
This is a sweet Christmas read that definitely has some darker undertones, but I actually didn’t find it that emotional. Oh, the big emotions are there – love, guilt, grief, self-hate – but I think because of the dreams and flashbacks that came before Jeseca and David actually talked to each other, the emotion didn’t really reach me. They’re both likeable characters, but neither of them bowled me over either. Instead I found this pleasant, if not particularly gripping.
Part of this is down to the odds quirks of the writer’s style. There are some strange word choices, some of which I might dismiss as typos, but they happened regularly enough that I figured it was a quirk. [ETA: I have since been told these were errors, though I find it hard to believe all of them were. But if they indeed are then they have since been cleaned up.] It was a little distracting. As was the dog. Don’t get me wrong, I thought Brody was adorable, but I couldn’t work out what he was. The book says English sheepdog, which actually doesn’t mean anything to me and I was confused between an old English sheepdog and a border collie. Google introduced me to an English shepherd, but I’ve been told by the author he definitely wasn’t that – which leaves me as confused as before. I also found Jeseca pretty passive when it came to the first few sex scenes. It’s great that David was all about her pleasure, but her lack of reciprocation seemed a bit selfish.
So overall this was an okay read for me. It didn’t really grab me, nor pull me in as much as I might have expected. It does have a nice faintly Gothic feel, though, and if you’re familiar with this author’s style I’m sure there’s plenty here to enjoy. If you’re looking for a Christmas tale that explores deeper emotions, with an outwardly scarred hero and an inwardly hurt heroine, then you might well enjoy this. I do think the ending was a bit of a magic fix considering where David started from, but it certainly stands high on the feel-good factor. So if that’s what you’re looking for in your Christmas reads, then perhaps this book is for you.
A Kindled Winter is Out Now!
Visit Rachel L. Demeter for more details.