Series: Whiskey Creek #7
Published by Harlequin on 2014-11-01
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Source: the publisher
Just call her Christmas Eve… Eve Harmon has always enjoyed Christmas, but this year it reminds her of everything she doesn't have. Almost all her friends are married now, and that's what Eve wants, too. Love. A husband and kids of her own. But the B and B she manages, and even Whiskey Creek, the small Gold Country town where she was born and raised, suddenly seem…confining. Eve's worried that her future will simply be a reflection of her past. There's no one in the area she could even imagine as a husband—until a handsome stranger comes to town. Eve's definitely attracted to him, and he seems to have the same reaction to her. But his darkly mysterious past could ruin Eve's happily ever after—just when it finally seems within reach. And just when she's counting on the best Christmas of her life!
The Heart of Christmas is a gritty romance; I wouldn’t call it a Christmas/holiday book, which the cover and blurb led me to expect. It does take place during the holidays, but there’s not a lot of feel-good holiday joy. To begin with, it features a very wounded hero in a very bad situation, and it starts off with a one-night stand (or what was intended to be one night, anyway.) Novak is a good enough writer to make me care about the characters despite my discomfort with his past and with both main characters’ actions in the present (vis-a-vis each other, as in the intended casual nature of their relationship.) However, the ending felt somehow anticlimactic, and much too easy given the tensions and issues earlier in the book.
I also felt as though the plot would have fit better in a more urban romantic suspense novel, as opposed to setting it in Whiskey Creek. To be fair, Novak hasn’t shied away from gritty or painful situations in her other books in this series, at least the few I’ve read. But this particular plot and main character felt over the top for the setting and most of the series’ regular characters. (Incidentally, you don’t have to have read the previous books to make sense of this one; Novak brings you up to speed on the bare minimum you have to know about other characters.)
If you’re fine with this odd mix of gritty romantic-suspense-style plot and charming small-town setting, you’ll probably enjoy The Heart of Christmas. Just don’t go into it expecting warm holiday charm.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: