by J.N. Welsh
Publisher: Purple Bird Publishing
Publication Date: December 20, 2020
Source: Kindle Unlimited
Vermont nights might get a little cold, but Sasha Merry has her work to keep her warm. Running the family farm has always been her dream, and this year it’s her time to shine. Sasha won’t let anything stand in the way of her plans. So when her most valuable employee gets hurt right before Christmas, she will do whatever it takes to prove to her father that she is up to the job, even if it means accepting help from the man who broke her heart.
Rodney Chestnut is finally back home in Charlotte, Vermont after years of living the adventurous life he has always dreamed of. Rodney lives his life without regrets, but being back in town, he’s face-to-face with his only one—Sasha Merry. There was a time when he owned Sasha’s heart, and then he broke it. After years of putting his ambitions first, seeing Sasha again reminds him that he’s neglected his heart.
Swept up in a blizzard of their old memories, the old flames start roaring immediately. The passions between them have always blazed hot, but the question is, will they be brave enough to take a chance on love or will their dreams lead them on separate paths all over again?
When I saw this gorgeous cover in the author’s newsletter, I had to go check out this book. And, ok, this is like Christmas overload, but in a very good way. It’s a small-town, childhood friends, second-chance holiday romance.
First off, we’ve got two characters named Sasha Merry and Rodney Chestnut (I KNOW). The Merrys run a family farm that includes a Christmas tree farm, bake shop and farm-to-table restaurant. Sasha’s been in love with the place and coming up with her own ideas for it since she was five years old, but getting her father to give up the reins enough for her to make her own impact is an exercise in frustration. Rodney’s an all-but-dissertation PhD student back in town for Christmas after years of doing fieldwork for his degree. While I’m not exactly sure what that degree was, but it involved researching the evolution of plants, especially ferns, and his love for that started on rambles with Sasha through the wild bits of the Merry farm. When Sasha’s father breaks his leg, he’s initially resistant to let Sasha take over the myriad responsibilities of the farm – at least until Rodney volunteers to help her out. But will Sasha and Rodney’s history ruin this Christmas?
“Our common purpose is different. You know that.”
“Is it?” he asked rhetorically. “You love the farm and I love adventure but we both love the earth, plants, wildlife, watching things grow and knowing we are a part of it in some way. We love our families, too. We have more common purpose than we have differences.”
While Rodney and Sasha were childhood sweethearts, Rodney broke Sasha’s trust in him with his actions six years ago at the Christmas dance. Rodney fully admits that he was foolish and childish, and Sasha doesn’t hesitate to rub it in a little more. I loved the passion that both characters had for their work, and how each of their interests dovetailed with the other’s. And of course there’s the passion and chemistry between them, all surrounded by holiday cheer. There’s a cookie exchange, a small town Christmas parade, a blizzard, and a Christmas dance, plus plenty of hot sex (that’s a Christmas thing, too, right?). The title of the book is very much a pun (“pining” get it, get it?) and at one point Sasha’s dad even describes her and Raymond as two different types of pine trees.
“We can see how you two are…reconnecting. It’s so sweet.”
“Yes, it’s like friends to lovers, or second chance at love, in a novel. You two are living my favorite tropes.” Breonna cheered.
One of my favorite things about small town holiday books is the side characters, and these don’t disappoint. I loved the group of characters and I’m very much hoping this is the start of a series. I’d love to learn more about Sasha’s sisters and their love interests, especially. And to go with the childhood friends trope, there’s the usual family matchmaking, too.
Overall, a very solid holiday novella, full of over-the-top holiday-ness, laughs and plenty of steam!