E-Originals, December 7, 2018 | Xpress Reviews        

Fans of Denault will find another strong character-driven story about hockey and romance; for holiday romance lovers who want one last candy cane before the season ends; grab a cup of hot chocolate, put on some cozy pj’s, and spend some time in Oregon for the season

Week ending December 7, 2018

Denault, Victoria. Now or Never. Forever Yours: Grand Central. (San Francisco Thunder, Bk. 4). Jan. 2019. 288p. ebk. ISBN 9781538763162. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
After suffering two major losses, Winnie Braddock decides to stay in her family’s summer cottage in Maine without telling anyone. It’s the perfect spot for wallowing in grief. Or it would be if Winnie’s brother, Jude, hadn’t hired a contractor to do a total renovation. And the contractor just happens to be Holden Hendricks, her high school bully. Holden spent his youth lashing out following the death of his mom. It cost him everything, and now he’s back in town trying to make amends with a community that treats him like a pariah. Winnie and Holden move from hardly speaking to defending each other in a tale of small-town love. Denault ( Slammed) effectively employs a first-person, present-tense narrative that alternates between the pair to keep the story emotionally charged, but she moves away from the hockey rink of the previous series titles to focus on two broken people making up for past mistakes and coming home again.
VERDICT This fourth book in the “San Francisco Thunder” series may not take place in San Francisco or on the ice, but fans of Denault will find another strong character-driven story about hockey and romance.—John Rodzvilla, Emerson Coll., Boston

Schaler, Karen. Christmas Camp Wedding. Avon Impulse. (Christmas Camp, Bk. 1.5). Jan. 2019. 144p. ebk. ISBN 9780062884473. $1.99. CONTEMPORARY HOLIDAY ROMANCE
Christmas Camp Wedding takes place one year after the events portrayed in Schaler’s first novel, Christmas Camp. While it features the same couple—Haley Hanson and Jeff Jacoby—it is not about their romance, but instead it is the story of a wedding at which everything that can go wrong does. When a pipe bursts at the site of their dream nuptials, ruining the venue, the cake, and the flowers just before the big event, Jeff and Haley return to the place where they met and fell in love, with two days to plan and execute the perfect affair—with his ex-girlfriend as their wedding planner. Despite every possible disaster, the spirit of Christmas manages to save the day.
VERDICT This tale of just how much work it can be to get to the happy ever after starts with bridezilla but ends with a lot of heart, which is fully deserved. Recommended for readers who can’t resist finding out what happens after the end of a favorite story, and for holiday romance lovers who want one last candy cane before the season ends.—Marlene Harris, Reading Reality, Atlanta

redstarShotwell, Mary. Christmas Catch. Carina: Harlequin. Nov. 2018. 244p. ebk. ISBN 9781488051197. $3.99. CONTEMPORARY HOLIDAY ROMANCE
Jack Fortner hates Christmas so much so that the entire town of Cape Sunset, OR, has forgone celebrating for years. Losing his wife during the annual Christmas parade is a haunting nightmare he cannot forget. Jack’s mom and brother decide to enter a contest—a Cheery Christmas contest—in hopes of bringing the holiday back to town. Podcaster Charlee Ridgeway (aka Cheery Charlee) arrives in Cape Sunset to deliver Christmas cheer to the winners and finds a very attractive man grieving and an unbelievable connection to him that neither can deny. Charlee strings lights, pipes in carols, and hosts a ball in desperation to help Jack and the town rediscover the lost magic of the holidays. What does it take to convince a man to open his heart to possibilities?
VERDICT Grab a cup of hot chocolate, put on some cozy pj’s, and spend some time in Oregon for the season. Shotwell’s (coauthor, Weariland) latest will leave you with images of Cape Sunset wrapped in Christmas lights, and fans will certainly finish this read hoping for a return visit.—Judy Garner, Strayer Univ., Glen Allen, VA

LJ Reviews

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