Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Owen loves Christmas. From November 1st to New Year’s Eve, his world is nothing but ugly sweaters, peppermint mochas, and Mariah Carey holiday singles.
Jacob is a bit of a Grinch. Since he’s gotten older, Christmas has never really been what he imagined. The closest he usually gets to festivities is an occasional bottle of peppermint schnapps.
When Owen’s journey to his parents’ house for their famous Christmas celebration gets cut short by the worst blizzard central Colorado has seen in years, he finds himself seeking shelter at the small roadside inn that Jacob manages. With Christmas rapidly approaching, Owen sets out to bring some holiday cheer to the hotel and its grumpy manager. Will Jacob be able to let Owen in before roads clear and Owen drives away forever?
I was so excited to read this book as this author, C.M. Valencourt, wrote my favorite book of 2019, From the Ashes. This one is different, holiday themed and not as deep. This starts with Owen heading back through a storm to get to his family Christmas celebration. They are a very close family who never had much money and all the traditions are very important to Owen. When the snow storm forces closure of the roads Owen has to very reluctantly admit that he’s going to miss at least part of it for the first time ever. He ends up at an inn managed by Jacob, the Grinch, which isn’t even decorated for the holidays. Since there are other guest unhappily stranded as well, Owen pitches in to try to make things better.
The inn does not provide meals, so first off Jacob has to hit the grocery to get things for these stranded holiday travelers. There are only two people running the inn apparently, Jacob and Mandy, the seasonal housekeeper. Owen spearheads a “make it Christmasy” campaign that includes Christmas caroling with hot cocoa, decorating the inn and the rooms, making cookies and whipping up Christmas dinner.
This is something that made me roll my eyes because when Jacob goes to the grocery store it is mentioned that “The kitchen in Elk Terrace wasn’t designed with room service in mind.” There is a single fridge and home range and Jacob got what was there, “…various cans, boxes and the few fresh things…” Jacob “…was more of a frozen dinner and coldcut sandwiches kind of guy, himself.” Despite this Owen was able to do miracles. “They made enough cookie dough to feed an army: two batches of sugar cookie, one snickerdoodle, and one chocolate chip…” They were also able to whip up the special Gramma’s hot cocoa recipe and a huge dinner including more cookies, three whole pies, etc.
A small pet peeve – the use of the term “hungry hole” when having sex.
This is a sweet, suspend belief Christmas story with some insta-love happening. Jacob’s family situation is so different from Owen’s, you get to understand why, for him, Christmas is just another day. Maybe a time to drink some peppermint Schnapps, but otherwise another day. Similarly, you see the love and care that Owen’s family has and why it is so important to him.
I loved the whole wrapping paper idea because that seemed so Jacob.
Cover art, showing Owen and Jacob and a ridiculous Christmas Sweater, fits the theme very well although I wish Owen was smiling because that’s kind of his thing!
Sales Links: Amazon
Kindle Edition, 77 pages
Published November 10th 2018
Edition Language English
setting Colorado (United States)