Author: Lauren Hawkeye
Narrator: Bailey Carr
Audiobook Length: 3 hours 47 minutes
Emma Kelly needs a Christmas miracle. Nick Shepherd loves his life in Salt Spring Island, where he sculpts in a studio with the grizzled and talented artist Mike Nagorski. Mike’s estranged daughter, Emma Kelly, arrives in their quiet haven, and though Nick is immediately drawn to her, he tries to resist his feelings. There may be Christmas magic in the air, but Nick knows it can’t last forever…
Christmas Sanctuary is part of a collection of novels that can be read in a single sitting. The story opens with Emma Kelly at her mother’s bakery in Madison, Georgia where she is tasting cakes for her upcoming wedding to her childhood friend turned fiancé, Matt. When he arrives at the bakery after picking up their marriage license, Emma’s world is turned upside down when she finds out that the father she thought she had and passed away was not her real father. She feels betrayed by her fiancé and mother, so she packs up and heads to Salt Spring Island in Canada to meet her biological father.
When she arrives at her father, Mike Nagorski’s, art studio, she finds his business partner and friend, Nick Shepherd, who informs her that Mike is away on a trip and will not be back for several days. The two have an instant attraction to each other, but each has their reasons for being hesitant. Both Nick and Emma were likable and I loved the winter setting. While this story does not revolve around Christmas, there is still a nice heart-warming feel to the writing. It does feel incomplete, as I would love some more backstory for Emma and Matt’s relationship; however, it is to be expected with a novella and the shorter number of available pages. Overall, this story was very sweet and fun.
Author: Lori Copeland
Narrator: Emily Sophia Knapp
Audiobook Length: 2 hours 43 minutes
It’s that time of year again, and with excitement and high expectations, Rose has planned the perfect Christmas for her family and friends. But when she feels them drifting away during a time that should celebrate togetherness, Rose is forced to slow down in the most unexpected way. In this whimsical, uplifting story, she discovers the true meaning of giving.
Unwrapping Christmas is my first novella by the author. After finishing the novella, I saw that this story does fall under the Christian fiction category. While this is not my usual genre, it was something different to experience. The story follows Rose Bergman who wants Christmas to be perfect for her friends and family. She spends all her time trying to please others while balancing many priorities, including volunteering at her church. As she takes on more and more responsibilities for fear of letting others down, her family’s needs suffer. At home, she has two active teenagers and a very busy husband who runs his own business. Her friends are also in need of her support as they are going through their own obstacles, including a possible cancer diagnosis and drug use. While shopping, she slips on an icy sidewalk and twists her ankle. Through this experience, Rose begins to rediscover self-care and that she may not be able to do it all.
For me, I had a very difficult time connecting to Rose. While everyone at one time or another has tried to do it all and it becomes overwhelming, it was difficult to connect to her family than doing more to help out and leaving it all on Rose. This may be the dynamics for some families, but just was not one that I could personally comprehend as the three other members of the family all had the capability to help more instead of letting Rose run ragged. It was still a very heart-warming story about learning to slow down. There is a nice message of remembering the true meaning of Christmas within this shorter novella. Overall, it is a sweet story.
Author: Debbie Macomber
Audiobook Length: 4 hours 50 minutes
Before beginning her new job as sous chef at one of Seattle’s finest restaurants, Josie Stewart takes on a six-month position cooking at a lodge in an Alaskan lake town. It’s only temporary–or so she thinks, as she becomes a valued part of the local community, falling in love with the people who call the Klutina Lake home. But one man, in particular, stands out among Josie’s new friends: Palmer Saxon, a quiet, intense sword craftsman, whose very existence forces her to question whether her heart wants to return to Washington at all.
Alaskan Holiday follows Josie Avery, a sous chef who spends a summer cooking at a remote and rustic lodge on a lake in Ponder, Alaska before she is due to move to Seattle and begin work at a restaurant. While at the lodge, she becomes close to Jack Corcoran and Palmer Saxon, with who she becomes romantically involved. Palmer is all-in with Josie and even plans to marry her, while Josie is torn between staying with him and her job in Seattle. After missing the last boat out of Ponder, Josie may be stuck there and now has to finally decide what she wants.
As Josie only intended to be in Ponder for six months, her focus was always on her career and her dream job in Seattle. While she cares deeply for Palmer, she tries not to lose sight of her dream. Since the story begins at the end of the six months, Palmer and Josie are already involved with each other and it is difficult to connect with their romance. As this is the structure of the book where the reader is placed in the middle of a story in progress, it did not quite start on the right food for me. Since we miss out on Palmer and Josie connecting with each other, I could not invest in their relationship. Overall, I think if this story were further expanded to give the backstory of the couple, I would have enjoyed it more as the rest of the story was enjoyable.