Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle
Description: A recently divorced woman and her daughter look for a fresh start by moving to a small town that embraces them in ways that only fate and the magic of Christmas can explain.
Sydney Ragsdale is divorced, but her husband is still calling the shots. In an attempt to shake free from his hold, she and her daughter, Ray Anne, head for tiny Hopewell, NC to the only asset her ex has no control over – a decaying farmhouse that once belonged to her grandparents. She finds solace at The Book Bea, the bookstore she’d loved as a child during her summer stays.
Kevin MacAlea, Mac to his friends, is the local high school history teacher and baseball coach. Father of a twelve-year-old son, he’s Hopewell, North Carolina’s most sought after bachelor. His young bride abandoned him and his son just before Christmas and has never come back. It has left his son bitter about Christmas which is hard for Mac who loves the magic of the season. He’s been the Santa here in Hopewell since the year Seth was born.
But when a catastrophe forces The Book Bea to close before the end of the year, everyone in the small town is feeling the loss. While Sydney is already off-balance by the bad news, her ex-husband breaks a promise to their daughter that sends Ray Anne running away. As Sydney tries to figure out what her next steps are she discovers all of the answers are right here in Hopewell.
Genre: Romance - Contemporary
Why I Picked This Book: There's a bookstore. I can never resist a bookstore! And Nancy Naigle is an author I've been wanting to read forever.
My Impression: This is a Hallmark movie in book form in the best possible way. The characters and story are developed better and with a bit more nuance but it has that same heartwarming quality. There is an emotional connection between the two characters but more important is their relationship with their children and discovering what truly makes them happy.
I really liked Sydney right from the start. She's in a situation she really never wanted to be in and never expected to be in. She's still a bit shocked from the dissolution of her marriage and is trying to hold it together for her daughter. She's trying not to badmouth her ex-husband though he makes it really really hard. I thought Ray Anne felt very authentic for a child whose world just fell apart. She loves both her parents and really just wants things to be like they were. She's angry and guilty and mostly just confused. However, she's also ten years old and forgets all the baggage sometimes in the joy of moments.
Mac is pretty perfect. He loves being the prefect Santa and tries to be the best father he can be. He pays attention to his son, is involved in his interests and is trying to be supportive and both mother and father.
I enjoyed watching these two come together. They're both such good people who are trying so hard to do the right thing and it was nice to see them rewarded. I loved the community of Hopewell - especially the Book Bea. It's definitely a bookstore I'd love to visit. This is a fun sweet read with no heat but lots of emotional connections. It's a nice cozy Christmas read.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author? I would. I don't think she's an author I'd necessarily search out but I'll definitely grab her books wen I see them.
Would I Recommend this Book? If you can't get enough of the Christmas Hallmark movies I think you'd love this book.