Title: Hope at Christmas
By: Nancy Naigle
ISBN: 1250108675 (ISBN13: 9781250108678)
Author’s Website: http://www.NancyNaigle.com
Brought to you by OBS reviewer Andra
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.
What could be better for an avid reader who loves Christmas but a book about a bookstore around Christmas? Nancy Naigle is a new author to me and I must say, I really enjoyed how she tells this story. I was captivated from the beginning! I could relate on many levels -> single mom, new town, new job, love of books…I could go on…but won’t ☺.
From page one I could relate to this newly single mother:
“The eye rolling was new, starting once they’d moved here last week, and she hoped it would leave as quickly as it had arrived. As aggravating as that was, her daughter’s heavy sigh tugged at Sydney’s heart.”
It is tough to uproot your family and start over again, so I was as pleased as Sydney when she learnt that the bookstore (The Book Bea) she visited frequently when she was in Hopewell as a young girl was still up and running. And lo and behold, Bea was still there running the bookstore! I love the spiritual wisdom that seemed to abound from Bea – definitely drew me to her:
“You were meant to come in her today. Trust your journey, dear. It will take you where you’re supposed to go.”
I loved some thoughts Sydney had while in the bookstore – I could just sense her push towards freedom and happiness with this move, after the divorce:
“The smell of books, knowledge, and old ink may have been in her imagination, but it all worked like some kind of happiness pheromone. Suddenly being replaced by a younger model didn’t feel like an insult as much as plain idiocy on Jon’s part.”
Sydney has a new job starting in the new year but through discussions with Bea – she agrees to help out in the bookstore until after the holiday season, after all, RayAnne will be in Atlanta with her dad, Jon.
Soon, we meet Kevin MacAlea (known as Mac by his friends), who is the local high school history teacher and baseball coach…and more (you shall find out soon enough when you start reading the book). But also as important, a single town hunk. Wouldn’t you know it but his property and the property that Sydney inherited are less than a mile apart (by the way the crow flies – as they say). Mac and his son have been on their own ever since his wife up and left them both a number of years ago(on Christmas Eve no less). My most favourite line with respect to Mac is his thoughts around Christmas time – even with what happened to him and his son:
“This time of year was magic to him, and these moments refilled his well. Enough to last all year long.”
You can figure it out… Mac and Sydney…well let’s just say that sparks fly and interest mounts. There is the usual “ex” tension with Sydney’s ex and Jon goes above and beyond in his insensitive interactions with RayAnne. There is a big accident, which brings Sydney and Mac and their kids close and from there I was able to see that the chemistry between the adults was significant and all I kept hoping was that it would last. Who doesn’t want a happy ever after at Christmas time?
There is plenty of small town, feel good, Christmas moments (caroling to name one) that make this truly an entertaining read. The description of Santa’s Village made me want to go and visit:
“Peppermint-striped candy canes and crystal blue snowflakes glowed from every row marker in the parking lot. …Like the North Pole. Look, Mom. It’s like a town.”
If you are looking for a sweet, romance around the holiday season, with plenty of miracles then Hope at Christmas will deliver. Nancy Naigle whisks you away for the entire read, while actually making it seem so real and down to earth. I shall certainly seek out more titles by this author.