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Feature book: Wrapped Up in Christmas Joy

3 March 2021

Wrapped Up in Christmas Joy by Janice Lynn

Subgenre: contemporary romance
Release date: 27 Oct 2020
Publisher: Hallmark Publishing
Format: ebook and print
Length: 231 pages
RRP: $11.99 (ebook); $28.90 (print)

Award winning author Janice Lynn is a nurse practitioner in a US country town, with a lovely long list of Harlequin Medicals to her name. I expected maybe some of the ‘medical’ in this latest release, which would have been most welcome, but she’s veered in a new and fresh direction, bringing along her trademark caring heart and her lovely romance.

This is Book Two in the Hallmark Wrapped Up In Christmas series, set in a small community called Pine Hill in rural Kentucky. I haven’t read Book One, but it didn’t matter. This was a lovely book to read alone, sweet and Christmassy and full of warmth and Hallmark-y goodness. Gotta love that.

Hero Cole Aaron is a former marine who left the service after a horrific incident occurred under his command. You don’t learn much about the incident, but his occasional flashbacks make it very obvious that it was utterly awful and still preys on his mind with flashbacks and nightmares. I imagine a lot of veterans battle this, far more than we realise. Civilian life led him to his uncle’s farm outside Pine Hill, and he’s now become a firefighter. Fighting battles for other people—and giving back to the community—has become as necessary to him as breathing. And maybe that way he can find some atonement for himself.

He meets quilt shop owner Sophie Davis when she finds—and tries to return—his journal, containing his thoughts and feelings about his veteran days. He accidentally donated the journal to a church charity drive along with some other things and is utterly horrified when he realises that Sophie has not only tracked him down to the fire station as the owner of the journal, but she has read it. In full retreat, he refuses to accept the diary back, and asks her to destroy it. He feels raw and terrifyingly exposed, convinced Sophie will hate him because she knows the truth about him. Just as bad, or maybe even worse, she might feel sorry for him and pity him.

He’s even more appalled when he’s then suddenly teamed up with Sophie for an annual charity drive in Pine Hill, raising money and toy donations for children who otherwise won’t have a gift for Christmas. To say Cole is reluctant to be a ‘team’ with Sophie is the understatement of the year. If I was Sophie, I might have given up on him. He’s a little bit curt and withdrawn, not one for conversation. He clams up when she tries to talk about his veteran days. He’s not exactly ‘company’ and shows his extreme reluctance. Not the most heroic of his moves …

And yet. Sophie is sweetness and light to everyone who crosses her path. She radiates joy. That’s just the way she is—which makes Cole even more determined to try and avoid her. She certainly doesn’t need him sullying up her life.

One of Sophie’s passions is making quilts for veterans through the non-profit organisation Quilts of Valor, a gift made to wrap them up in love and comfort and help them heal. Almost from the first moment she meets Cole, she’s already planning his quilt. She’s driven to do this because of her own veteran father, who also suffered on his return from service. Once she gets to know Cole, her stitches on the quilt become … stitches of love, even though someone as damaged as Cole always has a tricky road back to recovery.

To be honest the ending seemed a little rushed, but it’s tender and lovely. The whole book was also wonderfully Christmassy and festive. Just the perfect thing to read and not just at Christmas, but any time of the year.

reviewed by Malvina

A review copy of this book was provided by the author.

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