on September 25, 2018
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo
The Christmas bells are chiming across the Outer Banks town of Bell Cove, North Carolina, but there’s one local ‘grinch’ who’s not listening . . .
He’s got bad-boy looks and a Bah Humbug attitude, so when the local paper asks the villagers to vote on the “Biggest Local Grinch” as a fund-raising project, Ethan Rutledge isn’t surprised to hear he’s made the ballot. He might own the local Christmas Tree Farm, but the holiday hasn’t been welcome in his home since Wendy Patterson left him heart-broken twelve years ago.
But now Wendy’s back, fresh from a tour of duty as a female Navy SEAL. She’s bold, beautiful, and has five Navy buddies trailing after her—as if she needs a bodyguard! And what’s all this about them wanting to start a treasure hunting company right here in Bell Cove’s failing bell factory? Then Wendy learns about how Ethan’s been nurturing the one thing he has to remember her by: a gorgeous Norway Spruce tree.
Can the magic of Christmas and the spirit of the town help rekindle the romance between two people who thought they’d left love behind years ago?
~~Reviewed by Monique~~
When she gets a short break after one of her missions, Wendy Patterson – a WEALS, a female Navy SEAL – decides it’s time to go back home and decide what to do with her house, currently occupied by her Aunt Millie. Unfortunately going back to Bell Cove also means having to see Ethan Ruthledge, whom she hadn’t seen in twelve years when she left town. Ethan has been shanghaied on the town council: money is needed for various projects, and Ethan is being such a grouch that his friend Laura of the local newspaper proposes they hold a contest for the Bell Cove’s biggest Grinch, and nominates Ethan. But they were not prepared for the attraction that still lingered after all that time away from each other.
Sandra Hill’s wacky sense of humour is legendary, as are her colourful and often over-the-top characters and plots, but she has managed to tone down her outrageousness while losing none of her wit, and THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS TREE turns out to be one of her best novels. This being the first book in a new series, the author introduces us to the town and the many, many characters in such a way, that in the first chapters when nothing had really happened, I was laughing myself silly while getting acquainted with everyone. The “local Grinch” contest was a brilliant idea, it was very funny, and did not unfold as I expected. All the characters are wonderfully fleshed out, and some of the stand-outs are definitely Millie, Cassie, and “JAM” and “Geek” – two SEALs, friends of Wendy’s. The latter whose invention I hope to hear more about in the future.
While there is some zaniness going on, Ms. Hill’s storytelling skills shine like never before, and the dialogues are outstanding. I really liked those people and their town: apart from the SEALs and WEALS, they are mostly ordinary people, it’s life and it’s great! I loved that Ethan and Wendy addressed their situation like rational adults and that the rekindling of their romance took its own sweet time. Only one thing bothered me: given the abundance of details about everything and everyone, the reason for Wendy and Ethan’s estrangement was never fully explained; they know, but we don’t, and I feel it was important that we also got the whole story. THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS TREE is a terrific second chance romance, a great debut to a new series that could last a very, very long time, and a delightful Christmas story. If you have never read Sandra Hill, THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS TREE is an excellent place to start!
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.