[A quick note: This book is actually an add on to part of a series, The Bailey Brothers. But every book in the series is stand alone. This one was written to be a Christmas book, and while it’s not really part of The Bailey Brothers, it takes place in the same town and does mention a few characters from the main series.]
Isabelle Cook is trying to save her family’s Christmas tree farm, but it’s drowning in debt. Tilikum’s Christmas Village is in big trouble. The man trying to buy it? Elias Stoneheart. Some business tech guy from the city. He just so happens to be the high school sweetheart who broke Isabelle’s heart. And his heart? It’s cold as ice. He’s the grinchiest of grinches. But maybe, just maybe, seeing Isabelle again might drag up some long buried feelings.
Okay, let’s be honest, this was a total cover buy. It was the cover that first pulled me in. As for the story? I found myself invested. I read it in a couple of sittings. However, the romance fell pretty flat for me. This was a huge bummer because besides that, I loved everything else about it.
I liked the characters (a lot!). I liked the background and history between them, and especially their wounds. I liked the plot, which was mostly what held my attention. The story was very hallmark (It’s a Christmas book, DUH!). But you know what I mean, right? The farm is going under, and a big mean guy wants to buy it, and he ends up falling for the farm girl. Suddenly he’s helping her with farm chores just to get close to her. And before you know it, BAM, they’re in love. Awwww. *Cue the heart eyes.* Plus, it’s got all that other stuff we like to see in Christmas books, like toy drives, parades, etc.
The grinch, AKA, Elias Stoneheart is a cold, Christmas-hater. He can’t stand Christmas or anything about it. No trees. No eggnog lattes. No decorations. Nothing. He abhors it. I loved how his character was crafted. I was pretty excited about the alpha-hole personality, too, with his clipped words and the way he thinks about things. And Isabelle cook? She has a tragedy in her past that makes for a serious wound (one Elias was a part of). Put them together and…
What should have been a fantastic romance was…lack-luster! What the HE-double-hockey-sticks?! I can’t put my finger on it. Maybe it was because this was a second chance romance that happens a little over 10 years later?? Ugh, I hate second-chance romance? Maybe because a lot of their romantic interactions lacked feeling? Maybe it was because their sex scenes were all telling, no showing?? Whatever it was, was a big disappointment.
However, I still gave it a high rating because as far as Christmas romances go, I was invested, and read it in less than two days. I liked the overall plot, story, and characters. I just…didn’t feel that spark.
Will I read the other romance books set in this series? Honestly, I’m not sure. Maybe? I wish this book would have stood out more, because I was hopeful about finding another series I could dive into. And I’m surprised that I’m rating it so high. I probably should not have given it this many stars… But hey, it’s the season of giving so, here’s an extra star-ish.