I love Christmas stories with a (heavy) romantic undertone. Just absolutely love them. Curling up by the lit up Christmas tree, fireplace burning, and glass of wine beside me while reading a holiday love story? Sign. Me. Up. I have great news for anyone who feels the same. The Christmas Sisters, Sarah Morgan's latest novel, was holiday perfection in my books.
Here's the synopsis:
In the snowy Highlands of Scotland, Suzanne McBride is dreaming of the perfect cozy Christmas. Her three adopted daughters are coming home for the holidays and she can’t wait to see them. But tensions are running high…There are so many things to love about this Christmas story. Honestly. That being said...there was a little something that kept me from giving it 5 stars on Goodreads. (Why haven't they come up with 1/2 stars yet? Or maybe I don't want them too...that'll just give people more to complain about "Why didn't I get that extra half star? They must have hated the book if they only gave it 3 1/2." OK, so that's a rant for another day...) This is such a solid story though that I'm not going to look too closely at why I left off that last star (it's very likely just because I have extremely high standards for 5 stars). I'll just talk about all the lovely things about the book. Sound good? Good.
Workaholic Hannah knows she can’t avoid spending the holidays with her family two years in a row. But it’s not the weight of their expectations that’s panicking her—it’s the life-changing secret she’s hiding. Stay-at-home mom Beth is having a personal crisis. All she wants for Christmas is time to decide if she’s ready to return to work—seeing everyone was supposed to help her stress levels, not increase them! Posy isn’t sure she’s living her best life, but with her parents depending on her, making a change seems risky. But not as risky as falling for gorgeous new neighbor Luke…
As Suzanne’s dreams of the perfect McBride Christmas unravel, she must rely on the magic of the season to bring her daughters together. But will this new togetherness teach the sisters that their close-knit bond is strong enough to withstand anything—including a family Christmas?
This book is perfectly Christmassy. It is so rare to read a Christmas story (I'll admit most of my holiday reading are romances because I am a sucker for them) that actually has such a focus on Christmas. There were the traditional and concrete Christmas elements - buying and giving presents, trees and decorations, baking and eating - as well as the feeling and essence of Christmas - family, love, a dash of stress. Those magical Christmas feelings wrapped themselves around me and I almost felt like I was cozied up in front of the fire at Suzanne and Stewart's with the McBride family all around me. Which, I admit, was a really weird feeling to have at the end of September when I read the novel. If I can make one suggestion, it's that you wait until December or, at the very least, after Thanksgiving - Canadian or American, take your pick - to read this one. I think the magic of the season will make the story that much more powerful for you.
I recently read (and reviewed) Sarah Morgan's last book, How to Keep a Secret, which was her first foray into "women's fiction" (instead of true romance). I didn't really think it was too much of a departure from her usual romances because she always has such strong characters and a solid storyline. This one though? Even though there were relationships and lovers all over the place, it felt more contemporary fiction than contemporary romance. (This might be a really hard thing to understand if you're not a romance and contemporary reader but I read a good amount of both so, I guess I'm an expert?) The storyline was a bit heavier (not to say romances must always be light and fluffy) and all the feelings of all the characters were explored, not just the romantic feelings. It was as much a family story as it was a romantic one.
The characters were all, somewhat surprisingly, quite fleshed out. I say surprisingly because there were a lot of them to get to know. The POV cycled through Suzanne, Posy, Beth, and Hannah and Morgan really managed to make each woman shine. Not only that, each of their husbands/love interests (Stewart, Luke, Jason, and Adam, respectively) had strong personalities as well (and I don't necessarily mean Alpha male personalities, just well developed ones). It was so lovely to read such great characters. Even Beth and Jason's daughters were delightful and their little personalities came through the pages as well.
And it takes place in Scotland. I LOVE THAT. I'm a Stewart. Of course I do.
I could likely gush about this heartwarming tale all day so I'll just say this: if you only read one Christmas novel this year, make it Sarah Morgan's The Christmas Sisters. It was such a delight and already has me looking forward to the holiday season.
And good news for any Canadian and American readers out there...if you've finished reading this post and thought, "Boy, I wish I had a copy of this book for myself." you're in luck! The publisher is holding a giveaway, just enter the Rafflecopter below. Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Just in case you don't win, you can buy the book in all these places:
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*An e-galley of this novel was provided by the publisher, Harlequin, in exchange for a review for the purposes of a blog tour. All opinions are honest and my own.*