Review: At the Heart of Christmas – Jill Monroe
by Jill Monroe
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Publication Date: November 6, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Hiring him could be her best idea.
Or her worst mistake.
Quinn has inherited the farm and workshop that once housed the famous Hardwick Ornament Company. She invests everything in reopening her family’s business and hires glass artist Nolan Vesser, whose family used to design ornaments for hers, to work his creative magic.
After an accident burned Nolan’s studio to the ground, he thought he’d lost everything. But when he looked in his safety deposit box for his renter’s insurance, he came across an overlooked piece of paper that changed everything.
As Nolan spends time with Quinn, she sparks his artistic inspiration. But when she learns about his secret, can their new romance survive?
So, this is a Hallmark story, so you can pretty much guess what you’re getting. It’s adorably sweet, suitable for all ages, and pretty low angst. All in all, if you’re in the mood for a comforting holiday read, this will fit the bill!
“Your family big on Christmas, then?”
Now it became her turn to laugh. “At the Hardwick Ornament Company, Christmas doesn’t just come once a year. It’s a way of life.”
After the death of her grandfather, Quinn has inherited the family Hardwick Ornament Company, once famous for its beautiful handblown glass ornaments, but shuttered after no one in her parents’ generation wished to continue it. Growing up with her grandad’s stories, she’s eager to relaunch the company and turn the farm where it’s located into a tourist destination. Just one problem – while she’s talented at problem solving and business matters, she has no creative talent. Enter Nolan. With both his apartment and studio lost in a fire, relocating to the other side of the country to work at the same company his great-grandfather designed ornaments for seems like a good idea – even more so when he discovers old paperwork revealing that he is actually the real owner of the company. Problem is, Quinn isn’t the rich businesswoman he expects, but someone who’s both sentimental about the family company and driven to make it succeed. Will realizing Nolan’s dreams of following in his family’s footsteps crush Quinn’s?
“Nothing had prepared him for Quinn Hardwick. She grabbed risk with both hands and blew away caution like the seeds of a dandelion. She worked from the moment the sun rose to well past it setting. Quinn had invited him into her world, shared her plans and her hopes, and he’d caught her contagious enthusiasm. She cared about everyone around her, and that included him.”
Nolan’s a bit of the classic Christmas grinch. Since the death of his parents, he’s been too busy taking care of his sister to do much other than work, and he avoids getting too close to people. So it’s a surprise to him when Quinn seems to worm her way past his defenses and into his heart, and even more of a surprise that he doesn’t seem to mind. Quinn is compassionate and hardworking, and like the rest of Bethany Springs, she looooves Christmas, and she’s excited to share that joy with Nolan. She’s also excited about the possible attraction between them, though Nolan seems to be holding back, both from work and from her. I found the descriptions of Nolan’s anxiety after the fire very realistic, though it did seem to take Quinn quite a long time before she realized what was happening with him. I also liked that Nolan realized that he couldn’t possibly have a relationship with Quinn with the whole ownership of the company up in the air. They were quite sweet together, however, and I also loved Nolan’s reactions to Quinn’s boisterous and Christmas-loving family.
As for everything else, the story’s plot is, well, very predictable, while extolling the virtues of small town living, family, and the Christmas spirit. The main conflict in the book is Nolan’s deed to to company, and, well, besides Nolan’s attempts to get past the anxiety being around fire causes him, it’s actually the only conflict in the book. It’s hard, though, to get too worked up about it, as it’s such a cozy and enjoyable read due to Quinn’s quirky family. There’s a lot in here about glassblowing, which isn’t something I was familiar with, but the author managed to make it quite interesting and informative without feeling like I’d wandered into Glass Blowing 101.
Overall, this is perfect if you’re in the mood for a cozy and comfy holiday read, full of Christmas spirit and a big warm family!