NO ORDINARY CHRISTMAS by Belle Calhoune

October 13, 2021

From the publisher:

Mistletoe, Maine, is buzzing and not just because Christmas is around the corner! Dante West, local cutie-turned-Hollywood hunk, is returning home to make his next movie. Everyone in town is excited . . . except librarian Lucy Marshall. When Dante took off for LA without warning—or even a goodbye—he broke Lucy’s heart. She swore not to spend one more minute thinking about her ex, but Dante makes an offer Lucy’s struggling library can’t refuse: a major donation to film on-site.

Dante is thrilled to help boost his hometown’s economy and finally begin making amends to the people he hurt years ago when he left, starting with Lucy. But seeing his former best friend on set every day feels a lot less like closure and more like a fresh start. It’s one thing for Dante to fall for Lucy all over again, quite another for a famous movie star and a small-town librarian to find lasting romance. Can the magic of the holiday season give Lucy and Dante’s first love a second chance?


The holiday romances are upon us. In fact, this one is from last month and I’m just catching up! This is a sweet, small town romance. Dante and Lucy were best friends since elementary school and in high school, started dating. Things got pretty serious and they made a lot of plans for their future. But one night Dante just took off, and Lucy didn’t hear from him for several months. By then, he was in California, chasing his dream of acting. He broke Lucy’s heart and now it is almost nine years later and she really hasn’t recovered. She is still in love with him.

Dante becomes a huge movie star, and the tiny town of Mistletoe, Maine becomes his next project. He’s written a script, a love story, about him and Lucy, and returns to his hometown to film the movie. They throw him a parade, but Lucy is in shock. When she does run into him, she lets him have it and storms off.

Dante wants to film part of the movie in the library where Lucy is the manager. He talks her into it by promising her a big donation, which the library desperately needs. She knows if she turns him down, the library will suffer, not to mention the mayor would overrule her anyway. The next thing you know they are spending some time together.

Lucy finds herself falling in love with Dante all over again. She tries to fight it at first, but eventually gives in. What she doesn’t realize is that when he left, Dante’s heart was also broken and he’s never stopped loving her. There are many hurdles for them to reach their happily ever after, and it is a lot of fun to get there.

This author was new to me, but I will certainly read anything else she writes. I really enjoyed this holiday romance – it was a gift!

10/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

NO ORDINARY CHRISTMAS by Belle Calhoune. Forever (September 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-1538735985. 336 pages.

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THE SANTA SUIT by Mary Kay Andrews 

September 30, 2021

From the publisher:

From Mary Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love―but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it.

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit―beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.


As readers of this blog know, I love Mary Kay Andrews, and I was so excited to see she has written a holiday romance! It has her all of her trademark humor, love of kitsch and everything vintage, and terrific characters I wanted to hang out with.

Ivy’s been divorced for just about a year. Her ex-husband really hurt her and made her distrustful. She not only lost her husband, but she also lost her house (she got paid for her half) and her very successful business (again she got paid for her half.) She decides she wants to make a drastic change in her life and finds this old farmhouse called the Four Roses for sale online. She buys it sight unseen.

When she arrives, her real estate agent is there to meet her with the key. He tries to tell her more about the house and its sticking front door lock, for instance, but she brushes him off. Until she can’t get in and has to call him back. Ezra is not the old man Ivy assumed him to be from his name. Instead, he is about her age, young and good looking. Which makes her nervous.

The big surprise of the house isn’t how ramshackle it is, that she expected more or less. But the fact that the family left everything behind. The owners had died years earlier, and their son didn’t want any of it. Cleaning out the house was going to be a huge project.

The Four Roses was known in town as the place to go to look at all the Christmas lights. All of that was left behind as well, including the beautiful Santa suit the owner wore every year. And in the pocket was a note from a little girl, Carlette, asking Santa to bring her daddy back from Vietnam. Ivy is intrigued and asks the one friend she’s made in town if she knew anything about it. Turns out she did, her mom was best friends with their across the street neighbor, Carlette. The dad didn’t make it, and Carlette and her mom moved away.

Meanwhile, Ezra is slowly wearing down her defenses. He’s just incredibly helpful and she finally agrees to go out with him. Ivy meets the old man who is living in Carlette’s old house and more of the mystery is solved. But it’s at the town’s Christmas Stroll that everything comes together, all tied up with a bow you might say, but with some surprises at the end.

If you are looking for a way to get in the holiday mood, this is a great start. It’s a novella, so pretty short and fast reading (I wish it were longer!) It’s heart warming, sweet, and fun – all the good stuff I look for in a Christmas book. Happy holidays!

9/2021 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE SANTA SUIT by Mary Kay Andrews. St. Martin’s Press (September 28, 2021). ISBN: 978-1250279316. 220 pages.

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JINGLE ALL THE WAY by Debbie Macomber

December 19, 2020

JINGLE ALL THE WAY by Debbie Macomber. Ballantine Books (October 13, 2020). ISBN 978-1984818751. 272 pages.

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THE CHRISTMAS BACKUP PLAN by Lori Wilde

December 17, 2020

THE CHRISTMAS BACKUP PLAN by Lori Wilde. Avon (October 27, 2020). ISBN 978-0062953148. 368 pages.

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THE BEST COWBOY CHRISTMAS EVER by June Faver

December 7, 2020

The Best Cowboy Christmas Ever, Book 1

From the publisher:

Enjoy a down-home Texas cowboy Christmas!

When handsome town sheriff Derrick Shelton meets Angelique Guillory and her young daughter at the Garrett ranch, he is immediately drawn to the woman who seems to desperately need a true family Christmas. Determined to erase the shadows from her eyes, he decides to give her the best holiday she’s ever had.

Angelique Guillory is a woman with a past, haunted by violence and searching for the family she never knew. When she and her little daughter find their way to the Garrett family and meet Derrick, she hopes to have finally found a safe haven.

But Angelique is still looking over her shoulder. Despite her doubts, with a little Christmas magic and the warmth of the Garretts, Angelique may find more love and acceptance than she ever thought possible.

Also by June Faver, the Dark Horse Cowboys series:
Do or Die Cowboy (Book 1)
Hot Target Cowboy (Book 2)
When to Call a Cowboy (Book 3)
Cowboy Christmas Gold (Book 4)


This is only my second read by this author and I’m not sure why. I really liked the first book I read back in 2018. At least this is the first book of a new series so I can feel good about that. Cowboys and Christmas in one book put this on my must-read list. This was a good story, but it definitely had some issues. To be honest, there are enough holes in this story to drive a truck through. That said, the characters were well developed and I liked most of them. 

Angelique only learns who her father is as her mother is dying. She also lost her husband, whose father is some sort of New Orleans Mafia chief who decides he is going to raise his grandchild himself. She takes off with the kid and escapes to this small town to meet her long lost father. Here come the holes…

She meets the sheriff on her way into town and apparently, it is love at first sight. She shows up at the Garrett ranch, a very rich homestead, and her father just accepts her word that she is the daughter he never knew about. No DNA test required. Her new half-siblings aren’t as gullible and tend to make her life miserable until they figure out all she really wants from them is family. And a place to live. And a job. And babysitting. And you get the idea.

I liked this book well enough to read the next one in the series. I understand it is sometimes difficult to introduce a bunch of new characters and situations but there is a better way than this.

12/2020 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

THE BEST COWBOY CHRISTMAS EVER by June Faver. Sourcebooks Casablanca (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1728214511. 352p.

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MIRACLES AND MENORAHS by Stacey Agdern

November 11, 2020

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RETURN TO VIRGIN RIVER by Robyn Carr

November 4, 2020

RETURN TO VIRGIN RIVER by Robyn Carr. MIRA; Original edition (October 13, 2020). ISBN 978-0778388340. 320 pages.

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HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS by Susan Mallery

November 2, 2020

HAPPILY THIS CHRISTMAS by Susan Mallery. HQN; Original edition (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1335081285. 352 pages.

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THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS by Lizzie Shane

October 30, 2020

THE TWELVE DOGS OF CHRISTMAS by Lizzie Shane.  Forever (September 29, 2020). ISBN 978-1538735879. 368 pages.

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IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren

October 24, 2020

IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren. Gallery Books (October 6, 2020). ISBN 978-1982123949. 336 pages.

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