Christmas In Paris by Anita Hughes

Anita Hughes

Christmas In Paris

CHRISTMAS IN PARIS by Anita Hughes.  The most magical week of the year. And then imagine spending it in the City of Light. So I just spent the past couple days immersed in this charming story of love and Paris. What a treat.

This was the perfect book for me to read this week. I didn’t want anything deep or disturbing. I needed to escape. And escape I did. To the most wonderful city. To tell you the truth I still feel a bit as if I’ve been dipped in spun sugar and turned into Cinderella.

Isabel Lawson’s fiancee sprung a big one on her, and only a week before their wedding. He decided to trade his high powered job in to go run the family farm. Yikes. Not what Isabel had in mind as she totally loved her job in finance and was certainly not ready to chuck it all… So, she called off the wedding.  Her fiancee told her she might as well use the honeymoon suite at the Hôtel de Crillon. After all, why should it go to waste?

We find Isabel has arrived at the famous hotel and is stranded on the balcony late at night when the doors lock and she can’t get back into her rooms. As luck would have it she throws her satin Ferragamo pump at the neighboring balcony door. And out pops a sleepy-headed young man in a robe and pajamas. And so it begins.

You can already see that this is no literary novel.  And that’s exactly what I loved about it.  Of course Alec, the man Isabel meets on the balcony, is a French children’s book illustrator who has recently been jilted by his own fiancee. Celine ran off with a handsome soccer star to Australia, all on a whim. And so he is left behind at the hotel in a suite his father-in-law to be already paid for.

I’ve read a lot of books that take place in and around Paris. Most of them are period novel set in ww11. So this was enchanting for me. Anita Hughes brilliantly sets this story in a magical setting that is both heartwarming and candy-coated. From the first scene on the balcony of the Hȏtel de Crillon as Isabel leans against the creamy stone ledge dreaming of the holiday markets lining the Champs-Èlysées to the sparkling jewels and gorgeous fashions.  And I can’t forget the mouth-watering French food. I enjoyed it all. Yes, it’s a romance novel. And, no, not my usual read. But sometimes we just need an escape. And in this case this one turned out to be well-done and perfect for the holiday.

I actually bought my copy from Copperfish Books. I’m really happy that I did. Now back to more literary stuff. More soon…

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A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe

A Lowcountry Christmas

As many of you know I am a huge fan of Mary Alice Monroe. Her environmental novels that mostly take place in the south are filled with important messages and wonderful characters I have fallen in love with. None more than the people in the Lowcountry series.  Just when I thought she’d finished the series along comes this masterful and poignant story of Christmas in the Lowcountry complete with all the amazing characters I have come to love including our beloved Mamaw.

This time Mary Alice Monroe brings us the back story of Taylor McClellan and his family. Taylor married Harper in the last book in the series; A LOWCOUNTRY WEDDING. And they have a baby girl named after Mamaw, Marietta.  Taylor survived the war in Afghanistan where he served as a Marine. But  his survival was not without issues. I had heard of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), but didn’t know much about it.  Well Taylor has this and he also has a service dog named Thor who is part black lab and part Great Dane. Now my understanding of how service dogs are able to aid sufferers of PTSD is more substantial. Mary Alice has done her research.

This story begins with us meeting the rest of Taylor’s family, back a few years ago. His ten-year-old brother Miller is sulking because his mom and dad have told him he can’t have the puppy he so longs for. But he’s already named the puppy Sandy and they have built a relationship. The puppy is from a litter that belongs to his best friend. They are selling the pups for hundreds of dollars, and, sadly, Miller’s parents just don’t have any extra money this year. His mom tells him that their gift is Taylor coming  home safely from the war. Even though Miller understand this he just can’t get past his puppy. His mom is already working two jobs and his dad recently docked his shrimp boat for lack of sales. After all, this is the modern depression.

So, what is the meaning of Christmas?  This novel goes on to show Christmas past, present, and future. Just like A CHRISTMAS CAROL.  Parts of the famous story are strewn carefully throughout the book. It’s smart.  And meaningful.

Then Taylor arrives. And then his service dog Thor arrives. Oh boy. You can see where this is going.  It’s like a tease; a dog in the house but it’s not his…

On Christmas Eve Miller decides to go out on his own with an axe to find a tree for his family who can’t afford to buy one. Everything changes.  And the true meaning of Christmas shows up.

So many families have been struggling financially the past several years. The stress it puts on parents and the worry passed on to the kids can be heartbreaking. Mary Alice has taken on this as well as what it’s like for a soldier to come home broken from being wounded in service to his country. She’s done her research and worked with experts who train service dogs. Plus, her own son served this country in the Marines. My hate goes off to her as always. Job well done. A great book!

At the very end of this very special and inspirational little book are several scrumptious recipes that would be great for the holidays. Mary Alice’s friend Nathalie Dupree writes award-winning southern cookbooks and is featured on the Food Network. Nathalie came up with these little wonders. What a nice perk.

Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe

Mary Alice Monroe

is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels. She’s involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherneck Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. Her volunteer work with these and other groups provided the inspiration for her novels, The Beach  House Trilogy.

Winter Storms by Elin Hilderbrand

Elin Hilderbrand

Winter Storms

WINTER STORMS is the third and final episode in the Winter Street Trilogy. We find the Quinn family dealing with trials and errors just trying to get through the year.

Patrick is about to get out of jail after spending more than a year on the inside for insider trading. What has his almost perfect wife Jennifer been doing while he’s been away?

Ava is juggling two serious boyfriends. But she’s fed up with it all. The story begins with Ava vacationing on the island of Anguilla with her famous mother.  I never expected to visit Anguilla in one of these holiday books. I was totally caught off guard. It took me back to several years ago when I vacationed on this very island with my husband. We went specifically to  have dinner at a wonderful restaurant called Blanchard’s. And, yes, Blanchard’s is featured here. Small world.  But Ava meets someone totally different while basking in the sun. How  will this guy feature in her life?

Kevin and Isabelle finally decide to tie the knot. Now that Kevin’s new business on the beach is thriving he can afford to fly Isabelle’s parents over from France to be at the wedding. And, by the way, they’ve set the date for Christmas Eve. Very sweet and romantic.

Santa Claus is back. But he and Bitsy are caput.  Bitsy is back with Kelly. Kelly’s ex -Margaret is getting married… Yes, confusing. But only if  you are trying to read this book before reading the first two.  You will want to read those first:)

Even though I would classify this seasonal book as light, it is not all candy and roses; certainly not a romance.  Serious issues are tackled and done well.

I usually try to choose at least one holiday book to showcase each season. This year I have two. Even though I live in sunny S.W. Florida year-round, I totally enjoy spending Christmas on the snowy island of Nantucket, in my mind. Total fantasy for me…

I’ve been reading Hilderbrandelin-hilderbrand for years and years. In fact, I’ve read every single one of her books. She has a book out each summer. It always takes place on Nantucket. What’s not to like about that:) And the past three years she’s put a book out each winter about the holidays. These reads are not complicated. But they are good reads that are well-written and deal with issues we can all relate to.  I’m so happy so many readers have discovered her.

It was hard for me to get the idea of the holidays into my head so soon, but then I realized that they truly are right around the corner. And now I find myself getting into the spirit:)

My lovely finished copy arrived from the very generous people at Little Brown publishing. Thanks so much. I really enjoyed the book and it’s getting me in the mood for the holidays:)

 

A Nantucket Christmas By Nancy Thayer

Nancy Thayer

A Nantucket Christmas

I have tried to read a Christmas themed book at this time each year. Most years I do not succeed. But this year I have found one that I love.  A NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS, by Nancy Thayer, is delightful. I read the prologue and didn’t know if I wanted to laugh or cry. But what I did know, without a doubt, is that I wanted to dive right into this one.

This little gem made me laugh and cry. Most of you know how much I love animals. Well, the little dog in  A NANTUCKET CHRISTMAS gets a bad deal, right off the bat. And what happens to him gave me pause; was food for thought. I’m sure this sort of thing happens in summer resort towns. But it sure is sad.

Nicole is a retired nurse, recently married to a handsome retired lawyer. They live cozily in his home on Nantucket.  It’s the week before Christmas and Nicole is readying the house for the holiday. And for the visit from Kennedy and her husband and little boy. Nicole is worried. She is trying  so hard to make it all perfect. She needs them to like her. But Kennedy is determined to put a damper on anything Nicole tries to do. You see, Kennedy is an only child. She is still hopping mad that her mother left her father. And now her dad has remarried. She thinks of her stepmother, Nicole, as a frumpy nobody who is the only thing in the way of her parents getting back together. Get ready for the fireworks.

Maddox is Kennedy’s little boy. He desperately wants a puppy. His mommy  will never allow it. Too much fur, dirt, and trouble. And Kennedy is preoccupied with the upcoming birth of her second child.

This novel is full of emotion. It’s full of love and makes the traditional definition of “family” look outdated. I fell hard for the dog and the kid. You will too. I also totally loved the island atmosphere that Thayer managed to pepper every page with. Who wouldn’t want to spend Christmas on a winter wonderland like Nantucket?

Grab a copy of this book, sip a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and cozy up with a fluffy animal. You are not going to want to emerge from this holiday tale.

I downloaded my review copy from Edelweiss. Thanks so much.