Thursday, December 6, 2018

Review: "It Started with Christmas" by Jenny Hale

Last Christmas, I fell in love with Jenny Hale's Coming Home for Christmas (both the book and the film based on the book). I knew then that I wanted to read more of Hale's Christmas novels, so when It Started with Christmas came up for review, I jumped at the chance to read it!

Holly McAdams loves spending the Christmas holidays at her family’s cozy cabin, with its little red door and twinkling lights, tucked in the snowy hills outside Nashville. But this year will be different. Someone unexpected is joining them… 

After Holly and her beloved Nana struggle through a snow storm to reach the cabin, they discover gorgeous and wealthy Joseph Barnes, who has been renting the cabin for the last few weeks, is now snowed in. And it looks like he’ll be staying for the holidays. 

Determined to make the best of the surprise situation, Holly tries to bring everyone together by baking delicious treats and decorating the cabin with plenty of festive sparkle. She finds herself growing close to handsome Joseph, who is unlike anyone she’s ever met before, even if Nana isn’t so keen on the dashing stranger with the mysterious past. 

But charming and irresistible musician Rhett Burton is also back in town. Thrown into close proximity with the person who used to be her best friend and the man who broke her heart, Holly realizes it’s time to face her feelings and figure out what she really wants from her life. But to complicate things, both Joseph and Rhett have secrets to reveal… 

Will Holly be able to find herself and the love she’s always dreamed of this Christmas? 

I really wanted to love this book. I was so charmed by Coming Home for Christmas, and I hoped that It Started with Christmas would be similarly engaging. However, while I enjoyed the story, I just didn't connect with it emotionally.

My favorite parts of the book were the conversations Holly and Joe had while they were snowed in, and I also loved learning about Holly's grandparents and they way they cared for each other.

The book contains a pseudo love triangle (admittedly one of my least favorite tropes) between Holly, Joe, and Rhett, but it's blatantly obvious from the instant all three characters are on the page that Holly doesn't really have a choice to make; there's one man she's obviously meant to be with, and the other is so wrong for her it's almost laughable.

I did greatly appreciate (and this will be important to some of you) that there is zero cheating. And I do have to say that the ending, while anticipated, came about in a way I didn't expect, and I loved it!

This is a nice, clean Christmas romance, but it's not one that I'll remember or go back to again. Instead, I'd highly recommend Coming Home for Christmas! 2-1/2 stars.

Content note: There may have been one or two very mild swear words (I can't remember). There's no sexual content beyond kissing.

Buy the book.
Read my review of Hale's Coming Home for Christmas (4-1/2 stars).

Jenny Hale is a USA Today and Amazon best-selling author of romantic women’s fiction. The film adaptation of her novel Coming Home for Christmas aired on the Hallmark Channel. Her stories are chock-full of feel-good romance and overflowing with warm settings, great friends, and family.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free for review from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Also, some of the links in this post are affiliate links; this means if you click the link and purchase an item, I will receive a small commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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