I used to love Christmas as a child, then as the parent of a young child, but I don’t so much anymore. Dealing with family isn’t as easy as I wish it were. I still love the idea of Christmas however, and Christmas novellas are like tiny presents with all the Christmas spirit inside them. When they’re good, they hold everything I love about Christmas: the lights, the smells, hot chocolate and love. They might be a tad (or a lot) cheesy, but it’s Christmas, so it’s okay.
Brooke Hawkins left Noelle, Michigan, as soon as she could, fleeing both the town and her mother. Ten or so years later, just before Christmas, her mother’s death brings Brooke back. A snow storm derails her plans of sorting out her mother’s will before Christmas and getting away again as soon as possible. To make matters worse, Brooke gets into all sorts of arguments with Holly Jackson, owner of a bakery called Buns’n’Roses, the premises of which Brooke inherited and has agreed to sell to a spa company. Before her landlady’s death, Holly had finally been feeling like her life was on the right track again, five years after the accident that left her a widow and a single mother. She’s not ready to let anyone pull the rug from under her feet once again, especially not someone she hasn’t seen since high school and who doesn’t seem to care about the town she, herself, loves.
A Town Called Noelle includes almost everything you’d want in a Christmas movie or novella. Brooke is the grumpy, standoffish character whose heart can only be melted (but not immediately) by Holly, the warm and fiery one. Of course, Brooke’s apparent coldness stems from pain inflicted on her by her bigoted and narcissistic mother, and the more she realizes the town is not as closed-minded as her mother made her believe it was, the more she opens up to its inhabitants, and to her feelings for one of them in particular.
If you’re looking for heartwarming and sweet, you’ve found it.