Title: Christmas with the Sheriff
Author: Victoria James
Series: Shadow Creek Montana #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 7th Nov
After fleeing her beloved small town five years ago, Julia Bailey is back to spend Christmas with her family. Returning is hard, but keeping the devastating secret about her late husband is even harder. Her place isn’t in Big Sky Country any longer…but the more time she spends with the irresistible Sheriff who saved her once before, and his adorable little daughter, the more Julia starts wishing she could let go of the past and start a new life.
Single dad and county Sheriff Chase Donovan had been secretly in love with his best friend’s wife for years. But after her traumatic loss he knew Julia needed to get away from Shadow Creek, even though helping her leave was the last thing he wanted to do. Now she’s home and he doesn’t intend to lose her a second time. Chase is going to prove to Julia just how good they can be together this Christmas…and forever.
Source: ARC from Entangled: Bliss via NetGalley
My word, this book does not pull its emotional punches. Right from the start we see Julia suffering under the joint loss of her husband and young son, and from that moment on, any time little Matthew is mentioned it just squeezed my heart. This book is heart warming and lovely at times, but it never forgets that its heroine is a grieving mother.
Yet somehow, amidst all the sadness and pain, this book manages to be enjoyable and sweet. Julia’s welcome back to her in-laws is great. They’re a fun bunch, especially with all the food, while Chase and his daughter Maggie are utterly delightful. It’s no wonder that Julia gets sucked right back into the place, even if she is determined to leave.
The chemistry between her and Chase is undeniable. They’ve known each other a long time, he’s helped her through her darkest moments, yet the road to love isn’t entirely smooth. Julia is understandably skittish, but Chase’s patience is lovely to read and Maggie is a great ball of fun.
However, I have to admit things towards the end unravelled a bit. As the pages ran out, the story sped up a bit and things got glossed over. Yes, I knew where Julia’s emotions would be heading, but we don’t really experience it so she flip-flops sharply all over the place from one scene to the next. Chase also undergoes a few sharp changes of mind that we don’t get to see, making it seem pretty out of character. It gave the build up to the end a choppy feel that sadly broke the lovely mood that had gone before.
On the whole, though, I enjoyed this. Exploring grief and loss and fear and love as well as the comfort of family, it will put your emotions through the wringer, but it also helps put them back together again. It left me smiling and also extremely curious about a certain couple of characters and how things will turn out between them next. In all an emotional Christmas read, but one worth exploring – just make sure you have some tissues nearby.
Christmas with the Sheriff is out November 7th.
Visit Victoria James for more details.