A California Christmas by Brenda Novak (Review by Tricia Nelson)

2 min read

Rating: 4.5 stars

This book has it all – romance, family, a mystery, conflict, and redemption. It is well-written and a quick read that has a full story and captures your attention so that you want to find out what happens next.
Emery returns to her small hometown in California after an ex-boyfriend takes revenge on her in a way that not only costs her job and career but also her reputation. She is trying to hide out with old family friends until she can figure out what to do next . Dallas is a world-class rock-climber who returns home to California to visit his family and help out over the holidays and also with his mother’s wedding to her long-time boyfriend. Dallas and his large family of brothers were all adopted by their mother Aiyana who runs a boarding school for troubled teens. Dallas has a painful past that Aiyana and his family have helped him overcome but he still has issues he has not completely faced.

I enjoyed the fact that this novel read more like a story about family than a typical romance where they meet, they hate each other, they realize they love each other, happily ever after. This story is more than that. When Dallas and Emery meet they feel an attraction to each other, but they help each other like normal good people would do. They fall in love in the process, but still have to figure out if they as a couple can work.

The story has a touch of intrigue when they are trying to solve a mystery about who has suddenly come after Emery, and a surprise with how that plays out. The story is rounded out with themes of forgiveness (when is it possible, forgiving ourselves, forgiving those who have hurt us), family (what does that word mean, the families we are born into versus the families that we choose or that choose us), and love. Well of course love is one of the themes! But it is more than the romantic love, which is given enough time and attention to appeal to a romance reader. There is also love for other humans and seeing their humanity, ‘love’ that is possessive and hurtful, love of parents for their biological and adopted children, love for siblings.

This made me feel all the feels, and I would recommend it to anyone who likes a quick-read romance with a good story behind it and characters you can love.

Note: This book is part of a series about a small California town “Silver Springs.” I haven’t yet read the other books, and this one stands on its own with no problem.

I received an advance e-copy of this book from the Girly Book Club Blogger program in exchange for an honest review. I am grateful for the opportunity.

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