*Thank you so much to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and for having me on the tour!*
Coming at you with another mood board! I have found I tend to do mine based on what is in the book, rather than try to color match all the photos. Hope you like!
I really enjoyed this book! It was slow but a good slow. A good cozy slow, if that makes sense. It is a perfect winter read. I definitely want to visit this place! Everything seemed so magical!
Sophie is an extremely likable character. She is nice, helpful, but when it really comes down to it she will stick up for herself. She is quite funny. She asks herself “What would Jesus do?” but then decides that no one is as perfect as Jesus, so she asks herself “What would Gandhi do?” I thought that was pretty funny. She also finds trouble always on accident. The situations she gets herself into… Like when she meets Ben. She rolls out into the street chasing kids and he almost hits her with his car. Or when she meets Tristan. She is hiding in a closet (avoiding the horrible owner) and thinks the coast is clear and bumps into Tristan instead. I like her conversations with him and with Ben! She’s witty!
Like I said, the plot was a bit slow, but in a good way! It started out being about Sophie’s time at this fancy old timey hotel. But it ends up having quite the twist and turns into a few different mysteries! I would love to solve a mystery in a hotel, in Europe, in the mountains. How cozy is that?!
The writing is beautiful without going overboard. I loved the descriptions of the hotel. It really seems like somewhere I would want to go. And they have a New Years Eve Ball! That would be so much fun! The mystery happened really quickly, within the last 50-100 pages. But I still loved it! It was a very cute book!
I’ve got another really great Christmas book feature and excerpt again today! This sounds so cute and the perfect read for Christmas. This just feel like it would give you all the warm fuzzy feelings!
From Chapter Two
Caleb Dalton hadn’t had much to smile about for a long time. It had been a bear of a few years, since his best friend’s death, and while time might ease a wound, it wouldn’t ever bring Clint back. But that permanence made space for movement, around the grief, around the pain. And finally toward a future he’d been planning for a long time. Clint had been, honest to God, one of the best men on earth. The hole he’d left behind had been huge, and Caleb had dedicated himself to caring for his friend’s widow and child in his absence. That had been his life, his whole life, for nearly five years. And it was fair, because it had been Ellie’s life, too. He cared for Ellie. A hell of a lot. He’d met her because of Clint, but she’d been in his life now for more than ten years. His feelings for Ellie were complicated. Had been from the beginning. But she’d been with Clint. And there was no doubt Clint was the better man. More than that, Clint was his brother. Maybe not in blood, but in every way that counted. Caleb had never claimed to be a perfect friend. Clint was one of those people who’d drawn everyone right to him. He was easy to like. Caleb’s own parents had been bowled over by Clint from the time they were kids. And Caleb’s jealousy had gotten the better of him once when they’d been younger. Something that made him burn with shame even now. He hadn’t let it happen when they’d been adults. No matter how tempting it had been. No matter how much he’d… A muscle in his jaw ticked. He gave thanks that there was a space in front of the Gold Valley Saloon, and he whipped his truck there up against the curb, ignoring the honk that came from behind him. He turned around and saw Trevor Sanderson in his Chevy, giving Caleb the death glare. “Hold your damn horses, Trevor,” he muttered as he put his truck in Park. He should have been quicker. Hell, that was life in a nutshell. Sometimes, you were just too late. For parking spots, and for women. He’d tried to get that image out of his head. More times than he could count over the past decade. Had tried to erase that first time he’d seen Ellie. It was at his parents’ barbecue. Late one summer afternoon. He’d been talking and laughing with his brothers, and he’d lifted a beer to his lips and looked out away from the party. Then he’d frozen. It was like the world had slowed down, all of it centering on the beautiful blonde walking toward him. The golden light from the sun illuminated her hair like a halo, and her smile seemed to light him up from the inside out. As she’d gotten closer, he’d taken in every last detail. The way the left side of her cheek dimpled with that grin; her eyes, a mix of green and blue and a punch in the gut. Her lips were glossy pink, and he wondered if it was that stuff that women wore that smelled and tasted like cherries. He couldn’t decide if he hoped that it was or not.
Twenty years old, more experienced with women than he probably should be, and ready right then and there to drop down to his knees and propose marriage to the one walking in his direction. It took him a full minute to realize that the beautiful blonde was holding hands with someone. And that that someone was Caleb’s best friend on earth. It was a surreal moment. It had been a sea change in his soul. When his feelings for Ellie had tipped over from nothing to everything. A revelation he hadn’t been looking for, and one he sure as hell hadn’t enjoyed. It was like the whole world had turned, then bucked, like a particularly nasty-ass bull, and left him sprawled out on the ground. It had been the beginning of a thorny, painful set of years. As he’d gotten to know Ellie, as his feelings for her had become knit deep into his heart, into his soul. She’d become more than his friend’s woman, and more than a woman he’d desired. She’d become a friend to him. In many ways he was thankful for the depth of the feeling, because it was the reason he’d been able to put aside the lust. The idea that he’d fallen in love with her at first sight. When Clint had first started dating her, she’d been in school, so she hadn’t been around all the time. But during the summers, and on breaks, she came around with Clint. Went to the lake with them. Went fishing. Came to Christmas and Thanksgiving. The summers at the lake, though, that had been a particular kind of torture. All of them swimming out in the water, her and her swimsuit. A tiny bikini that had left little to the imagination. And he had been so very interested in imagining all the things that it did conceal. And he’d felt like the biggest, most perverse asshole. Then there had been the time that Clint had asked him to take her out riding. Just the two of them. Because Clint trusted him. Of course he did. Why wouldn’t he trust his best friend? So he’d done it. Had taken her out on the trails that wound behind the Dalton family property, up to the top of a mountain. And he looked over at the view with her, watched the sunset. And everything in him had wanted to lean over and kiss her on the mouth. To act on the feelings that were rioting through his chest. For just a breath she’d looked back at him, met his eyes. And he’d thought maybe she’d wanted it, too. Yeah, it would have exploded his relationship with Clint, but for a minute it seemed like it might be worth it. Then she’d looked away. And then he’d come back to himself. Clint was his brother. In every way but blood. And he couldn’t betray his friend like that. Anyway, Ellie loved Clint. She didn’t love Caleb. And no matter how much he might not want to, he had to respect that. So he hadn’t kissed her. They had ridden back down that mountain, and nothing happened between them. But late at night, Caleb had taken himself in hand and fantasized that it had. Two days later Clint and Ellie had been engaged. Caleb had agreed to be the best man. She’d married Clint. And while his feelings for her had remained, they’d shifted. As they’d had to. He wasn’t perfect. He’d never touched Ellie. Not like a man touched a woman, though that hadn’t stopped him from going over the accidental brush of fingertips, of their elbows touching, over and over in his mind if it had happened on accident.
It hadn’t stopped him from keeping and cherishing secrets with her, even when he knew he shouldn’t. Hadn’t stopped him from pushing some boundaries that not even Ellie had realized he’d been pushing at. Ellie was the one who’d realized, for the first time, that he was dyslexic. And he’d sworn her to secrecy. And in that secrecy had come secret reading lessons. And he’d…well, he’d lost control of his own feelings again. And once he’d recognized that, he’d cut them off. Cut her off. But then Clint had died, just a month later. And everything changed again. Since then, his relationship with Ellie was about their coming together to try and fill the gap Clint had left behind. His helping where she needed it. Helping with the house, with her grief, with Amelia. That was all.
New York Times Bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.
I am very excited to be featuring Christmas from the Heart and I get to share an excerpt! It already sounds so good. I love all of the warm and cozy Christmas movies, books, and music! I can’t wait to read this! I am loving the cover. I want to live there, or at least visit for a long time.
From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Date: 2-14-19 To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises Subject: Holiday Joy Dear Ms. Thompson, Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I’m following up our January newsletter with a special greeting as this is, of course, the month for love. Love for our sweethearts, our family and friends, and for those in need. As you could see from the newsletter, we put the money our loyal supporters donated to us to good use. So many families benefited from your generous donation to Christmas from the Heart last year and I just wanted to remind you that, even though the holidays seem far away they will be here before we know it. I hope we can count on Hightower Enterprises again this year. We have such a history together. Let’s keep up the good work! Warmly, Olivia Berg Christmas from the Heart Giving from the heart makes all the difference
From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises Date: 2-14-19 To: Ms. Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Subject: Holiday Joy Dear Ms. Berg, Thanks for reaching out. Our fiscal year is just ending and I haven’t yet received word as to how our charitable donations will be dispersed this year. I will keep you apprised. Best, Marla Thompson CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Date: 2-14-19 To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises Subject: Holiday Joy Thank you so much. Looking forward to hearing from you! Olivia Berg Christmas from the Heart Giving from the heart makes all the difference
From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Date: 5-1-19 To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises Subject: Happy May Day! Dear Ms. Thompson, just wanted to wish you a happy May Day. The flowers here in Pine River are now in full bloom, and our organization has been busy helping people make their dreams bloom, as well. As you know, while our focus is primarily the holidays, Christmas from the Heart tries to help people all year round when needs arise. Of course, Christmas is our big thrust, and as there is no other organization working in this area, we are much needed. As are your kind contributions. I still haven’t heard and I do hope we can count on you. Warmly, Olivia Berg Christmas from the Heart Giving from the heart makes all the difference
From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Date: 5-5-19 To: Ms. Marla Thompson Subject: Just checking Reaching out again in case my last email went astray. I’m wondering if you have any news for me regarding Hightower’s involvement with our cause for this coming year. Thanks! Olivia Berg Christmas from the Heart Giving from the heart makes all the difference
From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises Date: 5-5-19 To: Ms. Olivia Berg Subject: Just checking Ms. Berg, sorry I haven’t been able to get back to you sooner. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. It appears that the company is going to be scaling back on their charitable giving this year and funds have already been budgeted for other causes. I’m aware of the fact that in the past we’ve donated to your organization and I’m sorry I don’t have better news for you. I do wish you all the best in your search for other funding. Best, Marla Thompson CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Date: 5-5-19 To: Ms. Marla Thompson Subject: Just checking There must be some sort of misunderstanding! Hightower has always donated to Christmas from the Heart. The company’s founder, Elias Hightower, was my great-grandmother’s first contributor, and he promised her that Hightower would always be there for this organization. This is a company tradition! Please speak to your director. Hopefully, Olivia Berg Christmas from the Heart Giving from the heart makes all the difference
From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises Date: 5-5-19 To: Ms. Olivia Berg Subject: Just checking I’m sorry. The decision is out of my hands. Marla Thompson CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Date: 5-5-19 To: Ms. Marla Thompson Subject: Just checking Then please tell me who I need to talk to. Who’s your CFO? Olivia Berg Christmas from the Heart Giving from the heart makes all the difference
From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises Date: 5-5-19 To: Ms. Olivia Berg Subject: Just checking Our CFO is Guy Hightower, and his email is firstname.lastname@example.org Good luck! Marla Thompson CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart Date: 5-5-19 To: Guy Hightower, CFO, Hightower Enterprises Subject: Please reconsider
Dear Mr. Hightower, I understand from your corporate social resources director that Hightower isn’t planning on making any donation to Christmas from the Heart this year. There must be some mistake! Surely you’re aware of the long-standing relationship between your company and our organization. I’m sure I can count on you for some small amount. Best, Olivia Berg
Christmas from the Heart Giving from the heart makes all the difference Guy Hightower frowned when he saw the email from Olivia Berg in his in-box. Marla Thompson had been forwarding her emails to him, keeping him abreast of Olivia Berg’s varied begging tactics, and had finally even come into his office, trying to dump the load of guilt the woman had laid on her from her shoulders to his. “Don’t open it,” he told himself. He opened it anyway. Then he read it and swore. Actually, he’d been swearing ever since meeting with his brothers to discuss the budget back in December. If either of them had listened to him three years ago, they wouldn’t be having to pull the company belt so tight now. This was the problem with being the youngest. It didn’t matter how many degrees you had, how smart you were or what your job title was. Big brothers never listened. Hard to listen when you were going through your third divorce. That was Mike’s excuse. What was Bryan’s? Oh yeah. He was a wuss. He always agreed with Mike, no matter what. And Mike hadn’t wanted to change directions. Never mind that the company was struggling, keep on doing the same thing. The definition of insanity. Sorry, Little Miss Christmas. Times were tough all over. Hightower had kept its commitment to the more visible causes and turned the little fish loose. And that was how it worked in the corporate world. He typed his reply.
Dear Ms. Berg, I regret that Hightower can’t help you this year. We’ve had to reassess our commitments to various causes. I’m sure you’ll understand.
Then he signed off with the time-honored adios: Respectfully, Guy Hightower. And if she didn’t understand, well, not his problem. He had his hands full trying to keep the family company afloat. Maybe now Mike would be ready to take his advice and diversify. Olivia Berg—Livi to her family and friends—read the email from Guy Hightower a second time. Yes, the message was the same. Really? Really? Who was this man, Ebenezer Scrooge the Second? She plowed her fingers through her hair, the birthstone ring Morris had given her for her birthday catching in the curls. She was so angry she barely noticed. With a snarl, she began to type. You should be ashamed. Your great-grandfather is probably turning in his grave right now. What’s the matter with you, anyway, you selfish bastard?
She pulled her fingers off the keyboard with a gasp. What was she thinking? Was this any way to get someone to contribute to her cause? And what kind of language was this? Her great-grandmother would be turning in her grave right now, along with Elias. Adelaide Brimwell had been a lady through and through. So had Livi’s grandmother, Olivia, as well as Livi’s mom. The thought of her mother made her tear up. How she wished Mom was still around to advise her. They’d always planned that Livi would take over running the organization one day, but neither had dreamed that day would come so soon. Her mother’s heart attack had struck like lightning. Livi’s brother had left town, moving to Seattle, which was just far enough south to keep the memories at bay. Livi had stayed put, holding on to every single one, weaving them together into a lifeline to cling to as she kept Christmas from the Heart afloat. Oh, Mom. What should I do? Try again came the answer. Yes, her mother never gave up. She’d chased one potential donor for two years before he finally came through. Livi still remembered the day her mom left the house, clad in a Mrs. Santa costume she’d created—requisite white wig along with a frilly white blouse and a red skirt topped with a red-striped apron. She’d taken with her a batch of home-baked cookies nestled in a red basket and returned home with a check for five hundred dollars. The man had been a loyal contributor ever since. Livi still took him cookies every year. “Persistence pays,” she told herself as she deleted what she’d typed. She started over. I’m asking you to reconsider. Your company is our major donor, and without you so many people will have little joy this Christmas. Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated. There. He’d have to be a heartless monster not to respond to that. Guy trashed the guilt-inflicting email. What was he, Santa Claus? He had his hands full keeping his company solvent. But then, people like Olivia Berg never considered the fact that a company might have needs of its own. What made them feel so entitled to sit at the edge of the salt mine while a man slaved away and then greet him with their hands out when he emerged broken and bruised? Maybe some of those people always begging for money should get out there and actually earn a living. Let them work their tails off, putting in seventy-hour weeks. Sheesh. Anyway, the company had already met their good deed quota for the year. The only cause Guy was interested in now was Hightower Enterprises. By the end of the workday, Guy Hightower still hadn’t responded to Livi’s last email. “You are a heartless monster,” she grumbled, glaring at her empty email in-box. “No word yet?” her part-time assistant, Bettina Thomas, asked as she shut down her computer. Livi sighed and shook her head. “That is so wrong,” Bettina said in disgust. It sure was. “They’ve been our major donor ever since my great-grandmother founded Christmas from the Heart. Without their contribution how will we put on the Christmas dinner at the community center? How many families won’t have presents under the tree or Christmas stockings or a Christmas turkey?” There was no Salvation Army in Pine River, no Toys for Tots— none of the usual organizations serviced this area. There had been no need. Christmas from the Heart had it under control. Until now.
“We’ve had to reassess our commitments,” Livi quoted. The words left a bad taste in her mouth and she frowned. “It sounds like something your boyfriend says when he’s dumping you.” “They are dumping us,” Bettina pointed out. “But don’t worry. We have time. We’ll find someone else to come through.” “Not like Hightower. There must be something I can do,” Livi mused. “There is. Go home and eat chocolate.” And try not to think bad thoughts about Guy Hightower. In all fairness, he probably didn’t grasp the situation. She’d call him the next day and invite him to come to Pine River for a visit so she could let him see the need, show him a little of what Christmas from the Heart did for the community. She could take him to lunch, introduce him to some of the people in town, put a face—or better yet, several—to Christmas from the Heart. She’d top it all off by following in her mother’s footsteps and baking him cookies. Then how could he help but catch the vision his great- grandfather and her great-grandmother had shared? Yes, that would do it. Sometimes you had to be a little patient, give people a second chance.
Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have been published in several languages. Her book, Angel Lane, was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her novel, The Nine Lives of Christmas, was made into a movie for Hallmark . You can visit Sheila on Twitter and Facebook or at her website (http://www.sheilasplace.com).
*Thank you so much to the publisher and NetGalley for sending me an e-arc in exchange for an honest review! AND a big thank you to the publisher for having me on the tour!*
This is probably my favorite contemporary I’ve ever read. It read like a Hallmark movie with added drama. I loved every moment.
Characters: Beatrice seems uptight when you first meet her but quickly learn that she has her emotions under tight control. She is an extreme perfectionist because she is in line to become the next queen of America. I actually found her more interesting than her wild sister, Samantha, and her wild brother Jeff. I felt bad for Samantha though because she seemed like she would actually have been on the right path if she was encouraged (positively) to do so. She just couldn’t compete with her perfect older sister. Jeff seemed sweet but really naive when it comes to women! I guess he’s only 18 but still! He had me shaking my head sometimes! Nina seemed like the only normal teenager, which I suppose she was. Daphne… oh boy. What to say about her. While I admire her cleverness, she is also quite scary and just plain old MEAN! She makes a good “baddie” because you feel bad for her while at the same time hate her.
Plot: I think that McGee did a really good job of making this world feel real! I normally don’t like political insinuations but I have to say that I agreed a bit with some things she said. Especially the part where Beatrice is wondering what a vote would be like. And she came to the conclusion that it would basically be a mess and everyone would be corrupt… Agreed! Anyways, I liked the drama that Beatrice’s position caused. She didn’t really want it but has absolutely no choice. And the choices she has to make! I loved McGee’s look at what America would look like as a monarchy. McGee is actually a bit humorous at times, at one point she says that the Royals only drink coffee because of the Boston Tea Party incident. I almost laughed out loud at that!
Final Thoughts: If you like drama, alternate history, and lots of romantic tension, read this. That ending was so hard to read! I want the second book RIGHT NOW!
Katharine McGee is the New York Times bestselling author of the Thousandth Floor series. She studied English and French literature at Princeton and has an MBA from Stanford. She’s been speculating about American royalty since her undergraduate days, when she wrote a thesis on “castle envy”: the idea that the American psyche is missing out on something, because Americans don’t have a royal family of their own.
Katharine lives with her husband in her hometown of Houston, Texas.
For more information, check out her website (this is one of the COOLEST author sites I’ve ever seen!!).
Fan-freaking-tastic. I know, I never review romance books because it’s not a genre a usually reach for. But in the last 6-ish months or so I needed a break from Fantasy. *gasp*. I know. So when recently, my friend Erin released her first book, I picked it up! It did not dissapoint! I was in a reading slump and this was the perfect gooey, funny, read I needed.
Erin’s writing is really, really good. And I am not just saying that because I know her. She is actually really talented. It doesn’t even seem like this is her first book! Everything flowed really nicely, I was never left hanging.
Let’s talk characters. I really liked Sophie. I thought her friendships were solid. She was believable in her relationship issues. Meaning, it didn’t seem like it was written to make her seem relatable. It was believable. I LOVED her sense of fashion, her love of pie, her shoe closet, and she just seemed like a fun person! I also loved Rafe! He was so sweet and caring, and when he made mistakes, he owned up to them. BUT so did Sophie! They BOTH owned up to their mistakes! I loved their sacrifice, and I loved their ending. Which, speaking of the ending, excuse me, right in the feels.