A Willful Woman…

Thoughts about books from a romance addict.

Review: Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

on October 30, 2013

What Tickled My Fancy: Take me to Snow Crystal Resort! Now now now now now!

What Ticked Me Off: One word, 30 times.

Who Might Like It: Fans of Susan Mallery’s Fools Gold series.

Review copy from Netgalley

If Snow Crystal Resort was based on a real place, the way Nora Roberts’s Inn books are, I would be so there. I’ve never had much interest in winter sports, but everything about the place sounds spectacular. I was captivated from this sentence:

‘The way you’ve built it — the way it’s designed –‘ she tilted back her head and looked through glass into the twilight and the forest — ‘it’s as if the outside is inside. It’s like being part of the forest and the mountains. You can virtually feel the snow, without any of the cold.’

And did I mention there’s a hot tub? Oh yes, there is most certainly a hot tub.

This is sort of a Scrooge story, but our Scrooge, Kayla Green, is a lonely and vulnerable one. Painful memories have made her virtually phobic about Christmas; all she wants is to avoid it as much as humanly possible. When she’s offered a public relations job drumming up business for the failing Snow Crystal Resort in Vermont, she leaps at the chance to be in an isolated cabin over the holidays. But the man she’s working for, Jackson O’Neil, is disturbingly attractive — and his many friendly relatives, with their love for all things Christmas, are disturbing, period.

The city-slicker who gets won over by small town goodness cliche really works here, because the allure of the place is so clear and believable. Not just the hunky and romantic Jackson, though he’s not to be sneezed at, but the beauty of the setting, the exhilaration of the outdoor activities, the contrast with the coziness of the indoor activities… why on earth did they need the best publicist in New York? This job should be like shooting fish in a barrel.

There’s some effective sequel-baiting with a genial cast of characters, and Jackson and Kayla are both very likable. Kayla’s Christmas phobia seems overdone at first, but when the crushing details of her story come out, it’s easy to understand why she’s become so devoted to work and commitment-shy. Although the tone of the book is generally light and sometimes funny, there’s some depths to Kayla, and to Jackson’s relationship with his family, that give it real heart.

I had one problem with the book, which was that one particular noun was repeated ludicrously often — okay, I admit I counted: 30 times. I won’t mention which word, so as not to make it stand out to other readers if they don’t happen to notice it on their own.

This is obviously a great choice for anyone who especially likes the small-town trope, but even if you normally don’t, it might be worth a try. A book that can make me enjoy that trope again… we’re not talking just another small town.

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