Brooke Hawkins doesn’t want to go back home to the small town in Michigan where she grew up. She has nothing but bad memories and feelings of the place. But since her mother passed, Brooke has no choice. And it’s even worse during the holidays, since Noelle takes its name seriously and goes all out during the season.
Holly Jackson’s bakery is finally in a good place and making a good profit. So the news that her property is being sold and she’s about to be out in the cold is upsetting to say the least. When she sees Brook in person, Holly snaps, wondering how the woman who is about to ruin her business has the gall to set foot in her bakery.
To say the women get off on the wrong foot is an understatement. But as their paths keep crossing, due in large part to the snow storm that has Brooke stranded in Noelle, they’re able to have a real conversation and strike up a tentative friendship. Things with Brooke aren’t all that they seem, especially in regards to her childhood. And Holly finds herself attracted to a woman for the first time in their life. With the holidays approaching, and the snow storm, these two women just might find something together they didn’t even know they were looking for.
Holiday story coupled with the snowed in trope? This was an easy pick for me, despite never having read this author duo before. Fortunately for me, Hardy didn’t disappoint with this story, which is classic holiday in the best of ways.
Brooke’s childhood was fraught with a mentally abusive mother, and Brooke is stuck with the fact that the town’s perception of her late mother is nothing like who she actually was. On top of that, Brooke’s own perception of the town has been seriously colored by her mother’s attitude. So of course Brooke isn’t happy to be back, and of course she can’t see the townspeople for who they are. I thought the authors did a particular good job letting the reader see into Brooke, her thought processes, and how she was dealing with everything from the past and how that was coloring her present. She definitely has a change of heart throughout the story, but more than that, she becomes comfortable enough to show her true self.
Holly is a bubbly personality, and one who is resilient. She’s a great counterpoint to Brooke’s more reserved persona. I loved the way their friendship built, as they had a chance to talk and move into more. I would have liked to see more development with the relationship as it moved into romance, but considering the length and what this story was trying to achieve, it’s only a small complaint.
While there are definitely some heavy themes underlying this story, Hardy manages to keep the overall tone of the book light without disregarding the effect Brooke’s upbringing had on her. Ultimately, this story is about letting people in and overcoming past beliefs. All set in a picturesque town with holiday festivities at every turn. If you’re looking for a nice Christmas read, then consider picking this one up.