Acquired Book By: I’ve been hosting for Prism Book Tours since September of 2017 – having noticed the badge on Tressa’s blog (Wishful Endings) as we would partake in the same blog tours and/or book blogosphere memes. As I enquired about hosting for Prism, I found I liked the niche of authors and stories they were featuring regularly. Oft-times you’ll find Prism Book Tours alighting on my blog through the series of guest features and spotlights with notes I’ll be hosting on behalf of their authors when I’m not showcasing book reviews on behalf of Harlequin Heartwarming which has become my second favourite imprint of Harlequin next to my beloved #LoveINSPIRED Suspense. I am also keenly happy PRISM hosts a variety of Indie Authors and INSPY Fiction novelists.
I received a complimentary copy of “In Love by Christmas” direct from the author Cari Lynn Webb in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.
Why I previously enjoyed reading Cari Lynn Webb’s style of Contemporary Romance:
Although Webb doesn’t fully come out and claim that her characters (as well as the dogs and cats themselves) have been suffering through PTSD, you can gather the fact that they have been. Their scars are not visible on the outside except for when their exhausted and bits of their truths are revealled. Webb explores the limitations and the challenges of people who are caught inside their own situation to where they cannot see past it. They hug close to the complacency of not wanting to construct change in their lives because change could bring factors they cannot control and this is definitely a story about how the harder you try to control your life the more angst you will give yourself because life cannot be controlled. You can only control your own actions but not the sequencing of events that evolve outside them. Nor in the behaviour of others or the sense of morality and ethics others choose outside of your own convictions. That is the hardest bit really. In accepting that out of our own human condition that there are limitations towards what we can personally accept to handle when life throws us a situation we are unprepared to transition through such as how Dan and Brooke find themselves now.
At the same time of course, is the unexpected ex who wants to make her presence known and her needs to be demanded. This re-brought up the memory I had of Oliver of how self-centered his ex had been and how sometimes, in the mix of living, others who are outside your experience or have chosen to distance themselves from your life truly do not fully understand where you are currently on your path. Valarie wants to sweep back into her son’s life but at what cost? To the son and to the father? How can her narrow-minded view of motherhood fail to see that the needs of her son should outweigh the impulsive choices she wants to make on his behalf?
Throughout the trials facing them, Brooke is the calming voice next to Dan’s rock of strength. They fit together because they each benefited from the other; where they could re-shape the path they were walking into a relationship built not only on trust and grace but one where each of them could still have their own voice. They were injured through past relationships where they weren’t given the chance to breathe long enough to understand the reasons why their lives took several left turns. Although Dan’s ex was living life elsewhere from him, it was how this left an ambiguous sense of closure that rankled the most for him. On the flip-side, for Brooke, her past was harder to reconcile as it meant letting go of the things she couldn’t control – in effect, the things that none of us can control and have to accept just as they are.
This is a multi-layered story about the intersection of lives and the curious ways in which the heart leads us forward into a tomorrow that has more hope of promise than the past we’re trying to outrun. I loved the way Ms Webb composed this story, how she tucks us so dearly close to her characters and their internal battles; whilst providing us with a firm understanding about life, love, loss and the second chances we must choose to embrace if we hope to aspire towards a future filled with the hopefulness of a renewed sense of purpose.
The most guttingly realistic emotional arc was centred on Brooke – Webb anchoured us intrinsically into her psychological spiral. We felt what she bleed out of her heart – she was beyond the point where she could process what was emotionally overwhelming her as she had suffered a loss beyond words. How do you process seeing your home incinerated? How do you prepare yourself for rebuilding when you can barely breathe and choke past your emotional response to what has just happened? Webb takes you into her internal world – of where she second-guesses her ability to find strength out of hopelessness and how courage was on holiday because she didn’t feel an ounce of it whilst trying to believe in the goodness of those who are coming to her aide.
This is an emotionally intensive novel – from both Brooke and Dan; Webb takes us closer to both of their struggles as they both have found this methodology of surviving which works for them. They don’t want to alter the routines that have given them a false sense of normalcy in case they discover that the fragile confidence they’ve held inside that routine proved to be a shadow of their fears to where everything they were afraid of happening might suddenly begin to unravel the very last nerve they have left. Webb writes with an intuitive layer of understanding – of what happens when your trying to rise above your circumstances and how hard it is to work through the emotional upheavals you cannot prepare for in life.
-quoted from my review of Single Dad to the Rescue
(Book Four: City by the Bay series)
In case you missed it, during my 6th Blogoversary I celebrated why I love Harlequin Heartwarming whilst I also showcased the authors I’ve loved discovering via this imprint for #TopTenTuesday!
Interestingly enough, this was one of the series I was trying to borrow via interlibrary loan – however, I wasn’t able to read The Charm Offensive or Ava’s Prize for two reasons: a) I ran out of the hours I needed with the books and b) there was perfume or a scent affecting my attempts to read them. I decided I’d have to gather my own copies one day for this series and re-read it from the beginning. Until then, I am thankful I be hosting the latter stories of City by the Bay as I’ve truly felt connected to this community despite the fact Single Dad to the Rescue marked my first entry!
Each Christmas I try to find some uplifting stories to be reading – I generally gravitate towards Historical Romances set during the Christmastide – however, in recent years, I’ve noticed I’ve been a bit curious if I could start to seek out a few Contemporaries again. With my ardent love of Harlequin Heartwarming throughout my blog these past years, I was delighted finding some of my favourites are now featuring Christmas installments within the series I’ve been enjoying to read. This year as the Christmas blog tours were being announced, I spied two Heartwarming novelists and quickly asked to be the tours as I felt they would be the kind of uplifting reads I dearly could use during the beginning weeks of the holidays.
During a recent visit to my library, I also had the joy of being placed on the used bookstore’s list for contacting me if they have any Heartwarming stories come into their store. They noticed how much I love them and had bought a few whilst I was there and decided to offer to phone me whenever they had a new batch giving me the chance to be placed on hold to collect them. I thought it was a lovely gesture as this is one library who likes to offer Heartwarming to their readers for borrowing purposes whilst having a new chance to potentially purchase some of these lovelies in the New Year was quite kismet knowing how much I’ve loved discovering them since 2017. They give me a proper uplift of joy to be reading and a dearly needed reprieve from adversities IRL where a cosy comforting romance is just the wicked ticket to give you a random bit of joy in your readerly life! They’ve also given me a chance to resume reading more mainstream Contemporary Romances and that’s a blessing in of itself!
I am doubly blessed by having another local library offering Harlequin Heartwarming to their readers – wherein due to both these libraries efforts to bring stories into reader’s hands, I’m slowly growing a nice collection of Heartwarming stories – don’t be surprised if you see an uptick of showcases for Heartwarming and Love Inspired Suspense as well as Historical Love Inspired or a few of the Contemporaries for Love Inspired sprinkling into view via Jorie Loves A Story in 2020!
This Christmas, two worlds collide
…under the mistletoe!
All Theo Taylor wants for Christmas is a profitable year-end and a flawless wedding for his sister. Hiring beautiful but unknown designer Josie Beck is a huge risk, especially when the Taylors’ reputation is at stake. Josie is sweet, kind and impossible to resist. But is Josie about to destroy Theo’s perfect wedding plan…or is she the answer to his heart’s secret Christmas wish?
Places to find the book:
Also in this series: Single Dad to the Rescue
Published by Harlequin Heartwarming
on 3rd December, 2019
Published by: Harlequin Heartwarming (@HarlequinBooks) | imprint of Harlequin
the City by the Bay Stories:
The Charm Offensive (Book One)
The Doctor’s Recovery (Book Two)
Ava’s Prize (Book Three)
Single Dad to the Rescue (Book Four) | (see also Review)
In Love by Christmas (Book Five)
Her Surprise Engagement (Book Six) ← forthcoming 7th July, 2020!
Converse via: #Contemporary #Romance
+ #Harlequin OR #HarlequinHeartwarming & #CityByTheBayStories
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: