The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere (Amazon link)
Description: Lauren Gabriel spent many years of her childhood in foster homes, wishing her mother would come back for her and be the family she needs. Now twenty-years-old, she still longs for a place that she can truly call home. Her work as a cashier is unfulfilling, and at Christmas it’s unbearable with the songs and carols and chatter of Christmas that she hears throughout the day.
When Lauren ends her shift one night, she finds herself driving aimlessly in order to avoid returning to her lonely apartment. And when she witnesses a car accident she is suddenly pulled into the small town of Grandon, first as a witness but then as a volunteer for the annual fundraiser for Glory’s Place, a center for single mothers and families who need assistance. Could this town and its people be the home she has always longed for?
Why I Picked This Book: I love Christmas books and it's so rare to find one that it's a romance that I couldn't resist!
My Impression: I love a good Christmas story and one of my absolute favorite things about them isn't the romance which is the focus of so many but the warm and fuzzy feel goodness of the background story. This is a little different than a lot of the Christmas books staring at my from my bookshelf because it isn't a romance though there may be a tiny touch or two sprinkled through out. On the warm and fuzzy scale this is about level with the last 20 minutes of It's a Wonderful Life - you know the part where George goes home and people start pouring in and unless you're hanging out in another famous Christmas story with a heart 3 sizes to small you have happy tears in your eyes. It isn't quite as exuberant as the end of the movie but it delivers on warm Christmas feelings and seeing good people truly rewarded.
I really liked Lauren. She's had a rough start and while she has some issues she isn't damaged or traumatized - she's just alone and desperate for family that she's never been able to find. She's smart, funny, and vulnerable with just enough optimism that I didn't find it unrealistic though maybe a little improbable. While the book focuses on Lauren it's also full of characters all with their own warmth, their own struggles, and their own secret wishes and I felt like I really got to know all the characters from major ones likes Stacy and Gloria to Les the grocery store manager and Holly the waitress.
This is the very best of a Hallmark movie in book form and has me ready to start pulling out the Christmas goodies. If you're looking for a light feelgood read with plenty of heart to put you in the Christmas spirit you can't go wrong with this one!
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Absolutely! I was pleased to see my library has another of her books and I'll be keeping an eye out for future releases.
Would I Recommend this Book?: I would! If you're looking for a Christmas-y read I think you'll enjoy this one.