Sunday, December 8, 2019

Christmas in Vermont by Anita Hughes

The Christmas tree is up at my house, and I was either too lazy or just not feeling the vibes to put out all my Christmas decorations. I went minimal and I'm happy with it. Just a few wreaths (battery operated timed lights rock!), stockings for Bud and I (I told him that meant he had to fill mine this year), a few candles to make it smell like a pine forest. I have a few items my Dad made that I absolutely have to put out each year; I'll confess I had a few tears putting them out and thinking about my Dad. Christmas sure does make you think about holidays past, and all those people who aren't here to celebrate with us. 

I've managed to avoid holiday cookies and treats so far, but I'm sure I'll cave and devour something a bit closer to December 24th! Reading this novel--some of the food made me have a few pangs, but I stayed strong. 

So, if you've followed my blog for a while, you know I have a love/hate relationship with Anita Hughes novels. I've read a few, and they are a bit too far out for me to really enjoy them. The characters live lifestyles that don't evoke any empathy for them, and they seem a bit shallow. But I keep coming back to try another one of her novels. I haven't given up just yet. 

Christmas in Vermont wasn't bad, but I did have a few issues. I did like the setting: the town of Snowberry, Vermont, and the homey Smuggler's Inn, run by Betty. Betty is a recently widowed woman who is struggling to keep the Inn open due to big medical bills from her husband's illness. Snowberry is reminiscent of a Hallmark holiday movie town--perfect shops, decorations, and people. Emma has arrived for a week's stay at the inn between Christmas and New Year's Day. Her friend Bronwyn gifted her the trip because Emma just broke up with her latest boyfriend, and a series of happenings in New York led  Bronwyn to believe that fate was at work for Emma, and she just had to go to Snowberry. Staying at the inn was Emma's true love, Fletcher, and his daughter Lola. It's been eleven years since they broke up and graduated from college, and maybe, just maybe, it's time for them to reconnect and try again. 

Synchronicity is a major theme in this tale of two people who connected once long ago, and through misunderstandings and miscommunication, lost their chance to remain together. Of course Fletcher has no idea Emma is purposely staying at the inn, and he's astonished to find his college girlfriend back in his life, all these years later. 

Oh, and guess what? Fletcher's engaged, and his fiancĂ© is staying at the inn, too. Whoops. 

I didn't really feel a big connection between Fletcher and Emma, and the flashbacks to their time together in college weren't super interesting. It just felt like a college romance that ended as they do, when people graduate and go their separate ways in life. Emma's inability to remain committed to a relationship has convinced her she's never going to settle down and have the family she wants. Fletcher is engaged to a woman who doesn't seem well suited to him, and isn't fond of his very precocious daughter Lola. The plot was fairly thin, and easy to see how it would end. Yes, it did remind me of a Hallmark Christmas movie; it was pretty tame all around. I am happy the ending wasn't tied up in a tight little bow; it made sense that happily ever after doesn't happen automatically. Growing a relationship is part of the path to that happily ever after we all hope for. 

So-a bland kind of story, but it should put you in the holiday spirit. No surprises here, just an easy read holiday romance about second chances and synchronicity. 

Rating: 2/6 for a tale of two people rediscovering each other again, and the chance to get it right the second time around. I didn't feel much chemistry between the two main characters, and the supporting characters all seemed fairly standard and unremarkable. Enjoyable but not a Wow! story. 

Available in paperback and ebook. 

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