Thursday, November 30, 2023

Kathryn Freeman - A Little Christmas Faith

Is it time to love Christmas again?
Faith Watkins loves Christmas, which is why she’s thrilled that her new hotel in the Lake District will be open in time for the festive season. And Faith has gone all out; huge Christmas tree, fairy lights, an entire family of decorative reindeer. Now all she needs are the guests …
But what she didn’t bank on was her first paying customer being someone like Adam Hunter. Rugged, powerfully built and with a deep sadness in his eyes, Adam is a man that Faith is immediately drawn to – but unfortunately he also has an intense hatred of all things Christmassy.
As the countdown to the big day begins, Faith can’t seem to keep away from her mysterious guest, but still finds herself with more questions than answers: just what happened to Adam Hunter? And why does he hate Christmas?

Comment: This was an impulsive choice, because it would be a book with obvious Christmas content and it suits one of the challenges I'm doing. I think I have another book by the author in the pile as well...

In this story we meet Faith Watkins and she has recently accomplished her dream of opening a boutique styled hotel. Since Christmas is very close, her decoration is well into the spirit of things but her very first paying guest is not fond of it at all...
Adam Hunter is a man who is still being haunted by something that happened to him in a previous Christmas but he is realistic to know he can't dictate the will of others, so he is ready to endure the Christmas themes everywhere... and he can't ignore his interest in Faith either.. 
As the hotel and those who are drawn to it become more and more a part of Adam's life, is there any future for him and Faith?

I had absolutely no expectations on this story except that it would have a lot of Christmas content and references. I also assumed, by the blurb, that this might resemble one of those cutesy Hallmark-like plots where everyone ends up happy in the most unlikely of ways, and that love would conquer all. I also loved the cover, I think other readers might agree it's very charming.

Well, I do feel quite clever (lol I'm being sarcastic here) because this story did seem like a potential candidate for a Hallmark movie, but I imagine that if this were to happen, the sex scenes would not happen. Actually, I'm surprised that they existed at all, but I am not familiar with the author's style, perhaps this is something that is not surprising in her work. However, I must admit I feel they were rather meh, in the sense that they didn't added much to the level of intensity between the main characters, nor to the story as a whole.

The story is sweet and cozy and considering the premise, a lot more hopeful and cheerful than what I could suppose. Faith opens up a hotel, from what I understood by fixing up an old building so she probably had to install many new things, her family helped with the money factor, and she is ready to open. I confess I felt very worried for Faith, this seemed to be a huge thing for her to do alone (instead of a company or a known brand) and the chance of failure quite high, even more so since her family put personal money as well and they didn't act as if they were all millionaires.

Thankfully, this is the wonderful world of fiction and things start slow but they do carry on being positive for Faith and her hotel, despite my practical doubts on her management choices, and we could turn out attention to the personal dramas of those around Faith. She and Adam, obviously, start a romance which is meant to be a fling while he is there, but we more than guess things will progress to something stronger. The romance is... sweet and they show understanding for one another, but I cannot say I was marveled by how they decided to be a couple.

Things happen very easily and very quickly between then, they have to overcome some things but all this is done in a very basic way, without more depth and complexity to the writing and to the presentation of the elements, which I how I like a romance to be. There's nothing wrong with how this was written, let me be clear, but there isn't also enough depth, nor intensity, nor that eluded "x" factor that would make me recommend this story for anyone looking for something more substantial.

The book isn't big, so those who will read it won't be too bored, I think, and it's also expected that there are some minor conflicts, some situations where people have to respond positively even when they don't want to, Adam will have his own personal path of forgiveness and being forgiven, and secondary characters will be a reason or a vehicle for other sweet/redemption/closure/atonement situations or scenes. Basically, everything that one thinks would happen in a sweet seasonal story where Christmas and its due allusions should happen, more or less does.

I guess I should also be honest by saying I'm at a moment in my life I'm having some work worries, my cat has been ill, so perhaps I'm not in the right mood to appreciate the (very evident) message of this book. I can imagine it might feel so much better for a reader with a different mind frame, but details aside, this is one good story to feel the spirit of the season, for certain.
Grade: 6/10

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