Published by Harlequin Books on September 26th 2017
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!
Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's.
Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…
~~Reviewed by Evelyn~~
SUGAR PINE TRAIL, the seventh novel in the Haven Point series by RaeAnne Thayne, is a delightful story that will have you believing in the magic of Christmas. The characters are engaging, the plot is compelling and the conclusion is more than satisfying.
Handsome cooperate pilot Jaime Caine needs a place to stay while his condominium is being finished so his sister-in-law asks her friend, quiet librarian Julia Winston if Jaime could stay in the upstairs apartment in the huge house that Julia owns. Julia is not sure that it would be a good idea since she has always had a secret crush on Jaime, but she agrees to the temporary situation. She knows that she will never be Jaime’s type since he is very much a ladies’ man. In fact, he barely remembers her even though they have met several times in the past.
Through a twist of fate, Julia becomes a foster parent to two young brothers, Clint and Davy, whose mother has apparently abandoned them and disappeared. Jaime is fascinated by this kind young woman that would take on such a responsibility, and he begins to see Julia in a new light as he starts spending time with her and the boys. While alone in her living room, Jaime accidentally finds a bucket list of things, such as flying in an airplane, that she wrote down during a book club meeting. He decided that he would do his best to secretly help her fulfill some of the items on her list while he was staying in her home. Little did he know how attached he would become to Julia and boys.
Julia and Caine are both wonderfully complex characters. Julia has spent most of her adult life taking care of her elderly parents, and now that they have passed away, she finds herself without much in her life except her job at the library and her three cats that don’t seem to particularly like her. She dwells on the one serious relationship she had years ago that ended under strange circumstances, and she lacks the self-confidence to go looking for another.
Jaime also had a disastrous relationship in the past, but it had just the opposite effect on him. While he constantly dates the most desirable women by society’s standards, he rarely sees them more than once or twice. He has no desire for a serious relationship and is only looking for a good time. Watching both characters go through the process of self-discovery as they get to know each other and, and therefore themselves better, is not only interesting but also sometimes painful.
The secondary characters are also very special. There are the brothers who, at six and eight years old, present quite a challenge to only child Julia who does not have a lot of experience with children but does not hesitate to take them in when they need help. Jamie, on the other hand, comes from a huge family and he’s happy to help Julia with the boys. Jamie’s big family, many of whom were the subjects of an earlier series, Hope’s Crossing, by the author, is a welcomed addition to the story.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book from start to finish even though, when I look back, I probably shouldn’t have. The characters are very cliché: a mousy, introverted librarian who lives alone with cats, an incredibly handsome playboy that normally wouldn’t give her a second look, the overly perfect children. And then there’s the idyllic small town getting ready for Christmas, the beautiful Victorian house, etc. etc. etc. It is a credit to the writing of the author that she was able to pull it all together and make it feel fresh and exciting. I read it almost in one sitting, and it had me emotionally involved, even bringing me to tears at times, throughout.
I’m becoming a big fan of RaeAnne Thayne, and I can’t wait till my next visit to the Haven Point series!
I voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.