Book Review: Christmas at the Rekindle Inn by Lori Waters


Christmas at the Reindle Inn #BookReviewMary Walker has a habit of giving in when it comes to her mother, but this time her mom went too far. At first glance, the gift seems innocent. Seven days at a lovely Vermont inn in mid-December is Mary’s idea of the perfect Christmas present—that is until she discovers her traveling companion’s identity.

The Rekindle Inn is the last place J.T. Walker wants to spend his Christmas vacation, much less in the company with the woman who’d recently ripped his heart to shreds. A challenge of wills, and the need to show Mary he no longer cares, has him on the plane to Santaville faster than the time it takes to unwrap a candy cane.

The Rekindle Inn specializes in mending relationships, but when the Walkers check in, it will take more than a little Christmas magic to bring these two broken hearts back together. More like a Christmas miracle.

Picked up from Netgalley in exchange for a review, this almost didn’t make it into the Christmas Reading pile, until I was checking my dashboard on the site for another book, and – eeep! It was there ready to read, and my chance of a themed romance was rapidly running out the door!

So: it’s a romance set at Christmas, so you have to suspend any Grinchy-ness if you’re going to survive this book. A week before Christmas, and a month before their divorce is finalised, Mary and JT (Joseph Tanner) (yes, there’s the first of them!), are sent to the Rekindle Inn by their mothers, in the hope they can recover what’s left of their marriage.

They have been separated for 6 months, ever since Mary organised a surprise vacation, only for JT to bail out at the last minute “for work purposes”. Both characters have issues that have contributed to their marriage breaking down – Mary hasn’t trusted anyone since her father walked out on her mother when Mary was 10, and she gives up at the first sign of trouble anywhere in her life. JT has always felt that whatever he did was never “good enough” for his father, so he strove to be the best at his job, whilst neglecting his marriage.  Both of them struggle with communication, with their spouse and family members. Neither have confronted their parents about the trip, or their issues.

Arriving at the Rekindle Inn, the couple realise there is something unusual about the people who make up the staff and the community, starting with the fact that their hosts are called Mr and Mrs Klaus, and virtually no-one is over 5 feet tall. There’s the occasional “slip up” where references are made to “el, I mean staff”.

This is told primarily from the point of Mary, with a little side view from JT.  Some of the secondary characters are more 3 dimensional than others but some are barely sketched.

Once at the Inn, the couple are told about the week’s schedule, which involves time spent apart as well as putting the two of them together as a couple.  Each day is themed, and allows the couple to reflect on what made them fall in love in the first place, and hopefully bring some spark back into their relationship. They do get together – briefly – during the week, but it is the end of the week when Mary’s new boyfriend turns up to pick her up, and JT’s  boss’ daughter continues to try and get her claws into him that almost ruins the reconciliation.  However, as per all good romances, especially one set at Christmas, things work out as wished for!

The Christmas tie-ins were laid on a little thick for my liking, but them’s the breaks. Some people love the book, some people hate it, I found it to be a nice, fast, post Christmas read over lunch one day.

It’s August so it must be Christmas

So, it’s mid August and therefore the middle of summer (at least here in the northern hemisphere). That means there are two states of mind that co-exist in the bloggersphere: First, there’s a general apathy going around and it’s not just with the book bloggers. I follow several bloggers in other niches, more than one of whom has voiced a dissatisfaction with blogging in general and their niche in particular. Specifically it is the ones that have been doing blogging for a number of years: there is a loss of impetus, and a loss of interest about what’s on offer/new/the spin they can put on things. It’s certainly something I’ve been feeling, as I believe it’s one of the reasons behind my recent lack of reading and reviewing (as mentioned in my reading update earlier in the week).
The second, perhaps opposing state of mind is: it’s 4.5 months to Christmas. This affects bloggers in different ways, depending on the niche. For crafters, there’s a case for “Christmas in July” which is when they start creating stuff ahead of the holiday period (and for the Yanks, it really means “Thanksgiving in July”). So: cue knitting, stitching, card making, scrapbooking and general craftiness in the summer months in readiness for the winter holiday season. (The item opposite is an example of the crafty things from Sandy’s Crafty Creations). The TV shows on the relevant channels start going haywire with offers for the winter months.    Thankfully the Festival Of Quilts up at the NEC at the beginning of August wasn’t primed for Christmas themes, but it could have been!  I haven’t done any cross stitch for months, and generally don’t make anything to give away. I am currently working on a quilt top, using some old fabric I picked up in the early 1990s (does anyone remember the pink themed Laura Ashley quilt fabric?!).

For book bloggers, now is the time for the front lists to start being filled for the Christmas lists, e.g. Christmas themed romances, the books being prepped to get on the “Super Thursday” lists (which happens early October) and the requests for front list bloggers to consider scheduling their slots between now and the end of the year. In fact I got my first Christmas themed galley yesterday!  At the moment I have no other themed books for the rest of the year, and am currently not planning on any other themes this year – the mood I’ve been in this year means it’s not really worth planning as I wont keep to it!

For lifestyle and household design bloggers (once the “return to school” run has finished) it’ll be a case of how to decorate the house for autumn/Thanksgiving/Christmas.  Being European, Thanksgiving is not a huge influence, and where I live does not exactly go for Halloween, so there is no pressure for Trick or Treating, or decorating the non-existent porch in carved pumpkins. The biggest thing for us here is Christmas, and after decorating my parents’ house last year, I was in no mood to do it all again in my own place, so I don’t actually remember even putting the tree up. I’ve not brought new decorations in several years – some of my decorations date back to when I had my first flat in the early 1990s, and so I might be on the look out to start collecting something new.  I’ve previously picked up small pieces in the Birmingham German Market, but have been disillusioned with this for several years now, and don’t venture in at all during the 6 weeks or so that it’s on. With the current building works going on around the old Central Library, there will have to be some changes as to what’s situated where, and I’ve found out that it now goes on even longer this year than before! woe! I have a number of themed magazines going back over the last few years, making suggestions as to how to decorate the house.  I might actually go back through some of these magazines to see what the mentioned companies are producing now, otherwise I might just hit ebay. (ETA: I’ve just been reminded that IKEA has opened one of it’s smaller stores in Dale End, Birmingham. I may have to visit).

For the food bloggers, some will get excited by the influx of the winter foods (something I might get excited about). The pumpkins and squashes, the thick hearty soups, an excuse to go into carb coma with all the root veg and the bread based stuffings. The magazines will soon start telling us how to cook the perfect Christmas cake (hint: buy it). On the other hand – there’s what to have for the festive meals, how many versions of potatoes to cook this year, and worst of all – the Christmas meal out with friends/social group/work.  With my main social group it can be hard to find places that cater for those of us who have specific dietary needs –  vegetarians, specific allergies/intolerance such as gluten, general fussy eaters – never mind choosing a date that suits most people!

So dear constant reader: how are you doing during these fine summer months? Hit a block in your blogging routine? what are you doing to break it? What are you thinking about with regards to the rest of the year (inside or outside your niche)?


Book Review: Finding Christmas by Jeannie Moon

finding christmas

Small town Holly Point wasn’t big enough to hold the dreams of golden girl Maggie Benson. So when she left at eighteen, she flew right through college and into the adrenaline-pumping life of a navy fighter pilot. But without warning, a devastating crash destroys the career she loves and sends her back to her overly protective family to heal. Maggie can’t imagine how she can reconnect with the woman she was until the hot local high school basketball coach steps up to show her the way.

Former NBA star Will Fitzgerald knows how an injury can derail more than a career. Still, he’s happy with his life as a teacher and coach at Holly Point High School, until his quiet life is upended by the beautiful, brilliant, and hurting Maggie. Blindsided by the intense attraction, Will wonders if pursuing the woman of his dreams will answer the question of what’s been missing in his life.

Can Maggie trust enough again to let Will past her wounds, inside and out, so that they can both find the Christmas magic they’ve been searching for?

From Tule Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for a review. This book is one in a series of book set in/around New York in the Christmas period (many of which I have reviewed before This Christmas by Jeannie Moon, Goodness and Light by Patty Blount and A Light in the Window by Jolyse Barnett.)

Maggie returns home for the first time in several years, and two years after a Plane crash left her with skin burns over much of her body and having had part of one of her legs amputated.  She has a prosthetic leg which allows her to get around, but it doesn’t make things any easier as she is still coming to terms with not knowing her place in life anymore….she can no longer be a pilot, so where can she go now?

Will is a coach at the local school where Maggie comes in contact with him. He previously was a talented basketball player, until an accident broke his back and derailed his own plans for the future. They begin seeing each other….don’t know if they would actually call it dating….and Will, who is further along in finding his role in life, is there to pick up the pieces when Maggie is confronted with various things in her life and has to decide where to go next.

There is a light smattering in the sex department, but it’s relatively clean overall.

As Moon states in her introduction, she spent some time working with the mental health teams dealing with PTSD and recovering from life-changing injuries, and it’s good to see that a main character to be a woman, a soldier, a pilot, suffering from injuries sustained doing a job she loved and was good at, now trying to balance her needs against being a sister, a daughter a friends and a lover – it’s a bold choice, and one that Moon pulls off well. As with the other books, they’re not huge, but still manages to cover enough ground to make it a slightly challenging/thought provoking read.

Recommended for people who want a decent romance, with a little bit of Christmas theme running through, whilst changing the game a little

About this author

Jeannie Moon is a school librarian who loves that she has a job which allows her to immerse herself in good books and call it work. A native Long Islander, Jeannie still lives there with her family and a couple of well-behaved dogs and an equally misbehaving cat.

Tule Publishing have a page dedicated to Jeannie Moon here.  You can read an excerpt from the book here.




Book Review: An Avalon Christmas by Darien Gee

An Avalon #Christmas For fans of Friendship Bread and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society comes a delightful collection of stories that will put a smile on your face this holiday season.

The holidays have finally arrived in Avalon, Illinois and everyone is filled with festive cheer. Well, maybe not everyone …

The husbands of Avalon have started a Bah Humbug Club. A neighborhood cookie exchange wreaks havoc on Erin Meeks’ carefully planned life. Melvin O’Malley’s daughter has abandoned him for the holidays in a senior facility, and shop owner Margot West is intent on creating the best holiday shopping experience for her customers when a stranger threatens to ruin it.

But a few surprises await them as well–an anonymous donor is giving away free turkeys at the Pick and Save, and there’s an air of mystery surrounding a generous raffle prize for the upcoming Christmas Bazaar. And when it looks like Santa might be a no show, someone unexpected steps into his boots.

Celebrate the season with 12 heartwarming stories of hope and cheer that continue the spirit of Gee’s first two novels, Friendship Bread and The Avalon Ladies Scrapbooking Society. Includes recipes

This is a book of 12 short stories, all centred around the town of Avalon. Most of the people have been living in the town for years, and not everyone is looking forward to the Christmas holidays. Some are feeling lonely as they have lost their loved ones, some are losing their business or their homes, whilst others try to see the best in the holidays.

The stories have a loose link with each other and the reader ends up back where they started with the Senior Centre and the inhabitants there in.

The stories are not too “twee” – there is a positive feeling at the end of each story, even if the overall situations are not the most positive.

There are recipes at the end of the book, including a sough dough starter for sharing with others, and for which I will keep this ebook for reference later!

These are not the most in-depth set of stories: there is enough character development of the relevant people in each story, but these are short stories so that is appropriate – you get a decent enough indication of the people involved and what happens why.   This is a nice light read for a busy time of year

Book Review: A Highlander for Christmas by Jamie Carie

highlanderA Highlander for Christmas by Jamie Carie

A Christmas Novella: Lady Juliet Lindsay has made a colossal mistake. In the face of her parents’ rejection she realizes that a single stolen kiss could cost her everything. Sent to her aunt and uncle’s home in Scotland, she finds something in the rugged highland beauty that steals her heart…and a highland man, who seems her other half. Iain MacLeon, chieftain of the clan MacLeon, has one thing on his mind in a time where politics are like a tempest brewing—sheep. He loves his people and his land but he didn’t know he also needed a woman to share the load. And then he sees her…the flame-haired Englishwoman who steals his heart and holds it hostage against all his beliefs and all he holds dear. But how will he persuade his clan to love her as he does?

As a novella, this is a short story, which doesnt allow for much character development or extraneous plotting. Things happen apace and the job gets done.  Juliet attends the Highland Games whilst hiding after bringing shame upon her family whilst in London. There she comes to the attention of Iain MacLeon, who takes an instant shine to her.

She finds she has been promised in marriage to Lord Malcolm, a violent ungracious man, who has paid off her family’s debts in exchange for her hand.  He is not happy when he finds she has married MacLeon at Gretna Green, he kidnaps her, and forces a show down in the wilds of the Highlands.

Like I said, little room for extra plotting, story line or character development, so dont go in looking for a deep emotional resonance. Vague relation to Christmas as she arrives at her new home on Christmas Day.  Several references to a Christian God (and associated praying) which could have been worse.  As you can tell from the review – not much to write about!

Book Review: The Christmas Honeymoon by Alicia Street

Christmas HoneymoonSerena always loved Christmas, but her favorite holiday season only brings on heartache after her groom-to-be runs off with another woman only a week before her December wedding. Giving back the wedding gifts and enduring the humiliating gossip in her small town proves to be too much for the quiet librarian who’d been the brunt of nerd jokes in high school, and Serena leaves town—only to return a year later determined to take back her life, her pride, and her joy in Christmas.

Damien has his own reasons for hating Christmas. No sweet and silly stuff for this handsome Scrooge, who hurls himself into extreme sports, almost daring nature to break through his hard shell. So why does he find his icy heart melting when confronted with the timid librarian whose sweet smile haunts his dreams

Picked up the ebook edition of this from Amazon and read on kindle.

Serena has returned to North Fork a year after being ditched just before her wedding, in an attempt to face up to her fears and reclaim Christmas as her own.  She meets Damien the day she returns, and is almost instantly attracted to him.  She’s scared to break out of her comfort zone, he’s a thrill seeker who helps her overcome some of her fears and ultimately make a stand for herself.

This is a shortish story, so there is no room for “fall in love, split up only to get back together again” situations. A lot is packed in to the story, but that’s no bad thing. Read in an afternoon and a nice cosy read for a winter and Christmas afternoon

Book Review: A Grosvenor Square Christmas (multiple authors)

squarechristmasFour breathtakingly romantic tales of a Regency Christmas from four bestselling romance authors.

Down through the years, enchantment touches a tall gray house in Grosvenor Square. The legend of Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball promises true love and happiness to one lucky couple. Who will feel the magic this winter?  You’re invited to join the whirling dance at Lady Winterson’s sparkling Christmas ball, where miracles happen and true love shines forever. How can you resist?

1803 – The Seduction of a Duchess by Shana Galen

Rowena Harcourt, the Duchess of Valère, never forgot the handsome footman who helped her escape the French Revolution. For fourteen years, Gabriel Lamarque has loved Rowena—now at Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball, has fate finally delivered a chance to win her hand?

1818 – One Kiss for Christmas by Vanessa Kelly

Nigel Dash is London’s most reliable gentleman, a reputation he never minded until he fell in love with beautiful Amelia Easton. Unfortunately, Amelia sees Nigel as a dependable friend, not a dashing suitor. At Lady Winterson’s famous Christmas ball, Nigel vows to change Amelia’s mind—by sweeping her off her feet.

1825 – His Christmas Cinderella by Anna Campbell

At the season’s most glittering ball, a girl who has never dared to dream of forever after discovers a Christmas miracle.

1830 – The Last First Kiss by Kate Noble

Susannah Westforth has always loved Sebastian Beckett – but he’s only ever seen her as a friend. When Sebastian takes his Grand Tour, Susannah transforms herself into a woman he’ll notice. Now Sebastian is back, just in time for Lady Winterson’s Christmas ball – but the last thing he expects to see is his little Susie, all grown up…

Picked up free from Amazon, and read on an iPad using kindle software

Whilst there is a running thread of Lady Winterson, she and her butler dont make much of an appearance until the last book, which means the all authors can concentrate on their own story. Apart from a reference in The Last First Kiss to the ageing of Lady Winterson, there’s little difference in the stories that would reflect that changing of the years. Each story is different, as befitsdifferent writers, and covers 16 year old innocents to dowager mothers of 4, all finding love at the ball.

However, between reading them and writing the review, I have already forgotten much about them. So in summary: the stories are light, and befit a quick holiday themed read to wind down the reading year