Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Sarah Morgan's Sleigh Bells in the Snow (@harlequinbooks)

UK Cover
We're starting the Christmas Countdown a little early this year on PR, but hey you know what?  Christmas should be year around anyhow (I say as I stress about what to get everyone for the holidays).  Today I'm pleased to review Sleigh Bells in the Snow, the first full length novel from contemporary romance novelist Sarah Morgan.

But what's this you say?  Lexie you and contemporaries get along like fire and ice!  Well folks some things do change and much like my fannish theory involving GRRM's "fire and ice" I find that I'm getting a little more interested and whole lot more involved with the contemporary romance scene.  I do blame Sarah for this. 

What's on tap for this blog tour post?  A review, the book trailer and giveaway!  Excited?  I am!  So without further ado I give you what happens when a woman who's given up caring about Christmas stumbles into a man determined to show her the magic of the season.

Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

I'm rather torn over this review.  I completely understand why Kayla is the way she is about Christmas.  Without spoilers I think its safe to assume that most people would be sympathetic.  And Jackson is up front about everything--its not his fault that Kayla kind of...misses the point of what he was saying.  This isn't to say that Kayla is blameless for reacting how she did to Jackson and his family's very enthusiastic celebration of the holiday however.

I love Christmas.  I love Christmas romances, movies, music, food, decorations and most of all presents.  I'm less fond of the snow...but that's kind of the price you pay for living North of the Mason-Dixon line isn't it?  The O'Neil Clan is a likeable bunch, filled with relatives you love hearing about, but would probably be annoyed by if they were your relatives and not your buddy's.  The grandma who wants to give Betty White a run for her money.  The granddad who doesn't see a reason to bring some fancy woman from New York to help them save the family business.  Jackson's mother, who's quiet grief even with her family makes it easy for her to relate to Kayla.

I think at times Morgan laid it on a little too thick in regards to the granddad.  I swear I saw him waving a cane every single time he complained about something Kayla wanted to do.  He really didn't want anything to change, which while it made for some telling conversations between the various members it also became tiresome. 

To finish my nitpicks, the O'Neil's did not, as a family, understand personal space.  Once they got over the fact Jackson (basically) went behind their backs to hire Kayla it was like open season to try and pry her open of her deepest issues.  The more uncomfortable and agitated Kayla became the more I wanted to shake the family and ask if they really thought it was helping.  Yes Kayla needed to confront the past and move on to be healthier, but force feeding her something that makes her visibly cringe is not the way to make it happen.

Now for what worked!  Morgan makes it clear that even though Kayla has learned to not let the past rule her present, she is not in any one suddenly "Miss Christmas Superstar".  And while Jackson's heart was in the right place, I was happy to see the others take him to task for not thinking it through completely.

The chemistry between the two was very warm.  Yes the timeline is rather short, so this was a WHAM BAM THANK YOU courtship, but Jackson genuinely tries to show Kayla how much he cares for her.  Again with more enthusiasm then careful planning, but that's kind of how his family operates.  Kayla wasn't the typical flirt back off flirt back off heroine, she was pretty adamant about not wanting to be involved.  She's made mistakes and she doesn't want to repeat them.  I don't particularly blame her since again, the timeline is pretty quick so common sense would dictate caution.

If this wasn't a romance book.  Set during Christmas.  In a romantic, snowy landscape.

This is the first of three books and you can definitely see that Morgan set up the other two as romance leads.  Luckily they're enjoyable and just as interesting as Jackson (though hopefully their romances go a little...smoother).

As a holiday read this is perfect.  Curl up, sit with a hot cup of cocoa and remember--romance books live in a special kind of universe where reality needs never intrude.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Next on the blog tour is Jaime @ Fic Fare tomorrow - the site is pretty rad so why not go check it out for another chance to win?