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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Home for Christmas by Deborah Grace Staley

A Home for Christmas by Deborah Grace Staley
Published by Bell Bridge Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Full Length (236 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 books
Reviewed by Snapdragon

Dr. Janice Thornton has been lonely for too long, especially at Christmas. But Angel Ridge, Tennessee, the one place that holds the key to what family should be, is offering her a chance at a new life. Could she find happiness by taking over her uncle's small town practice?

Local contractor and carpenter Blake Ferguson comes from a big family. He'd like to fill his rambling old Victorian with one of his own. But there's one problem. He needs a wife! When Janice shows up at his house, Blake sets a course to win her, but soon finds she's built a wall around her heart this master carpenter finds difficult to dismantle.

Can the magic of an Angel Ridge Christmas bring hearts home or will old hurts create an obstacle even the town's legendary angels can't overcome?

An admirable heroine with trust issues sets the tone for this seasonal romance.

In Staley’s A Home For Christmas, another clever, educated woman meets a potential love – who is exceedingly and stereotypically blue-collar. The might not jump out so much, if you haven’t read the first book in this series, but those who have will see this as a formula. Dix, our very-local narrator again shares the opening, but this story seems to step away: to come from some other view.

Dr. Janice takes up small town practice, not without hope, but definitely in a sort of melancholy way. After all – she’d escaped at sixteen. Is she starting over, or retreating from better plans and better places? Yet, here it is, Christmas in a small, charming town. A handsome carpenter, Blake, with an easy smile and whipcord muscles happens to fall into her lap (well nearly!) and they hit it off. At least, the ‘sensual bubble’ that forms around them would seem to indicate that. Staley has a way with dialogue, so we are brought into the story somewhat grudgingly –wanting to believe, but still…some of Blake’s thoughts are a tad too creepy (he eyes her like a piece of meat) that might also have been meant to come off as sensual, but really just make you want to warn poor Janice.

Characters, dialogue, setting: its all there, so even I am left wondering why it’s all just a bit off.

There are definitely some great moments, and I simply loved a few specific descriptions – from Christmas lights to the sleigh bed – that help form the backdrop. It is all nicely Christmas-y, but the story itself wasn't my favorite of the series.

If you haven’t read any of the Angel Ridge series, it would be perfectly okay to start with this; better in fact, since it somehow falls into the pattern set by book one, Only You. I’m giving it 4 books for overall charm and readability, because Angel Ridge is still a sleepy town full of knowing neighbors and a full measure of charm.