Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Paralegal Seth Bellski is tired of being the secret lover of his boss, Lars Varga, founding partner of Finch & Varga Law. So when he asks Lars to spend Hanukkah with Seth’s family at their kosher B and B in Whistler, B.C., and Lars refuses, Seth realizes he will never get his self-conscious boss out of the closet.
So Seth prepares to spend his Hanukkah holiday alone in the B and B. Instead he finds himself running the place, as his aunt and uncle are missing, and seven demanding, peculiar, and danger-prone guests have arrived. To make matters worse, Lars shows up, begging forgiveness. Lars’s touches remind Seth of why he put up with his boss’s behavior in the first place. If only the words that came out of that beautiful mouth were as sweet as his kisses.
But how can Seth find time to fix his broken relationship when the guests are demanding kosher, gluten-free diets, losing their pet terriers, and hitting their heads on the ice? Seth and Lars find themselves put through the paces of being a married couple, all while still broken up. But then again, if they can survive this Hanukkah, maybe they’ll be singing a carol of the Bellskis.
Astrid Amara likes to release holiday stories and in 2009 started this Hanukkah trilogy. It took her until 2017 to finish it but I’m so happy she did because it’s heartwarming, beautifully written, full of suspense, mystery, romance, and love of all types. And it all started here with Carol of the Bellskis.
When reading an Astrid Amara story, you can’t just pick out one strength because her stories are so amazingly well rounded and beautifully written. That shows here. Her characters are strong, believable, and so are their relationship dynamics, as faltering as they are in the beginning. With Seth Bellski, you get his formidable Jewish family, their strength in their belief in their family and their religion, yes, more. It never tips over into caricature as it could so easily, but these people come across with love and care, if at times a bit of fond exasperation with knowledge of their foibles. Then there is Lars and his side of the family. Reserved, cold…well, I will let the story speak to the Vargas. They remain, however, authentic and real. That becomes something of a element of slow growth (very slow) over the course of the series, ending only with Wedding Bellskis this December. But I’m getting way ahead of this couple now at their breaking point.
The author sets out so many tough goals here and meets them all. There’s a romance and some very difficult relationship decisions that have to be worked through here by Lars (especially Lars) and Seth,. There’s an inn that can’t run itself where everyone seems to keep disappearing, so mysteries to solve, Hanukkah to celebrate, and much, much more. And it all meshes so well, like one of life’s tapestries. You will leave wishing you knew these people and wanting to be a part of their lives.
This story is full of so much emotion, action, color, and wit. It’s lively, poignant, sad, angry, lusty, romantic, funny, and a great read. I relished my time with Seth, Lars, and all the many Bellskis, and couldn’t wait until the next Hanukkah rolled around because that’s when Astrid Amara promised to roll out the next installment. Ah well, it was worth the wait even if it took until 2011.
Carol of the Bellskis rang in this series, this couple! It’s not to be missed. The Trilogy is on the top of my recommendations, not just for the holidays, but anytime of the year. But grab up all three now and read right through! What a treat is in store for you, starting with this remarkable story.
Cover art by April Martinez is strong, on target, and not only brands the series by the use of the menorah on all 3 titles but that’s also my idea of both characters. Perfection.
ebook, 1st Edition, 100 pages
Published December 14th 2009 by Loose Id
Original TitleCarol of the Bellskis
SeriesHolidays with the Bellskis