I have the pleasure of bringing you the next book in our Advent Reads in connection with the Harlequin 12 Books of Christmas Winter 2019 Virtual Tour! Thank you to both Harlequin and Pump Up Your Book for allowing me to participate and bring you our book for today!
Synopsis: "Hearts are lighter and wishes burn a little brighter at Christmas… Elizabeth Hamilton has been lost. Trapped in a tangle of postpartum depression and grief after the death of her beloved parents, she couldn’t quite see the way back to her husband and their two beautiful kids…until a car accident stole away her memories and changed her life. And when she finally remembered the sound of little Cassie’s laugh, the baby powder smell of Bridger and the feel of her husband’s hand in hers, Elizabeth worried
that they’d moved on without her. That she’d missed too much. That perhaps she wasn’t the right mother for her kids or wife for Luke, no matter how much she loved them. But now, seven years later, Luke finds her in a nearby town and brings Elizabeth back home to the family she loves, just in time for Christmas. And being reunited with Luke and her children is better than anything Elizabeth could have imagined. As they all trim the tree and bake cookies, making new holiday memories, Elizabeth and Luke are drawn ever closer. Can the hurt of the past seven years be healed over the course of one Christmas season and bring the Hamiltons the gift of a new beginning?"
My Review: First, I want to point out that I have never read any books by Thayne and definitely haven't read the previous 9 books in this series, though I think I may go back and do that now. It really wasn't necessary to read the previous books as this one could be read as a standalone but some back story on a few of the side characters would have added another element to the story. I admit that it took me quite a while to get into this story, the premise for this story was very different from any 2nd chance romance books I have read before. The struggle with postpartum depression struck a little close to home (even though I am many years outside of it, those dark times still linger). I do appreciate the very real emotions the kids displayed, particularly Cassie. I appreciate how everything wasn't all honky dory after all the grief, loss and lies. It was definitely a darker toned Christmas story than I usually read but it still ended up hitting me in the feels, just the way I like it!
My Rating: While it did take me a bit to get into this story, I do really appreciate the different take on the 2nd chance romance trope. I also got hit with all the feelings I like to feel from a holiday book. I give it a rating of Three Paws.
Here is a little excerpt of the story to see if it is something you would enjoy as well . . .
Her throat closed with emotions, regret and sorrow and guilt. She had to clear them away to speak. “Why…why didn’t you try to have me legally declared dead?”
“Because I didn’t want to.” The raw emotion in his voice seared through her.
His name. That was all she could manage through the tangle of emotions.
He gazed down at her, his expression almost…tortured.
One moment he was skewering her with his furious expression; the next he threw his arms around her, yanked her toward him and lowered his mouth to hers.
Shock held her motionless for only a moment. Then the sheer delicious glory of being in his arms again overwhelmed her. She wrapped her arms around him and returned his kiss with all the pent-up longing she had held inside her these long years of being alone.
The heat that had always been between them flared, wild and unrestrained. His mouth was hard on hers, fierce, demanding. Delicious. There was no trace of tenderness, only anger and loss, betrayal and sorrow and desire, all twisted together.
When he finally yanked his mouth away and released her as if she had scorched him, she stumbled backward, her knees drained of all strength. Her soul felt drained, too.
“Does that answer your question?” he asked, his voice raspy and low. “I never stopped hoping you would come back. Even when I was ninety-nine percent certain you were dead, that tiny one percent of hope wanted desperately to be wrong.”
He released a heavy breath and she watched in fascination as he tucked away any trace of emotion, becoming self-contained and expressionless once more.
“Do what you want to the house. Paint or don’t paint. I don’t care. This place means nothing to me anymore. The kids and I have moved on and are happy in our new house. I just want this one sold and out of my life.”
Like her. She meant nothing to him either, that wild, heated kiss notwithstanding. She did her best to blink back tears but was afraid he still saw them.
“I don’t know how much I can do in only one day but I’ll…I’ll try.”
He looked as if he wanted to argue but finally gave her one more long look and headed out the door.
After he left, Elizabeth touched her lips, the long-familiar taste lingering there. Oh, how she had missed him.
She still loved him.
Had never stopped.
She collapsed onto the sagging sofa, unable to contain all the emotions raging through her. She loved Luke and wanted what was best for him. That could never be her. Not then and especially not now, with all her baggage.
She might not be able to be part of his life or their children’s lives, but she could do one small thing for them. She could freshen up this house a little bit, make it more attractive to prospective buyers.
It was a small gift, but one she wanted desperately to give them.
About the Author
#1 Publishers Weekly, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne finds inspiration in the beautiful northern Utah mountains where she lives with her family. Her books have won numerous honors, including seven RITA Award nominations from Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews magazine. RaeAnne loves to hear from readers and can be reached through her website at www.raeannethayne.com.