Review of A Holly Bay Christmas by Jo Bartlett #15BooksForChristmas #ChristmasReadingChallenge

Let’s get real… I’m so over 15 books by now. I even thought I’d stop for the year. I have a few short story compilations on my kindle and I figured I’d just read a few of those until the end of the year. But then I saw a couple recommendations and well… reading…

One book that was a later addition to my list is A Holly Bay Christmas. I lay blame squarely at Jessica’s feet. She did a post in mid-December highlighting some favourite Christmas reads. How could I resist picking up the one she said restored her faith in Christmas books… and the author even inspired Jessica’s own Christmas books!

After indulging in the story during the lead up to Christmas Day -I got through this one mostly by using the text-to-audio function on my Kindle while gift-wrapping- I can say I agree with Jessica’s assessment. A Holly Bay Christmas is a charming, festive read.

Maddie owns her dream business running a combined bookshop and tea rooms, in the beautiful Cornish village of Holly Bay. When Ben arrives looking for a place to rent, Maddie is keen to help him find a home in the town she loves, where they really know how to celebrate Christmas. Stepping in to help Maddie raise money for a charity that’s close to her heart, and even dressing as an elf on Christmas gift day, Ben seems too good to be true. Letting her guard down, she realises she’s falling for the newcomer, but, when it turns out he’s got a hidden agenda, she can’t wait for him leave. Will the storm that breaks out two days before Christmas, and cuts off Holly Bay from the rest of the world, give Ben another chance to prove himself to Maddie? Or is she destined to spend another Christmas with only her books for company?

Available on Amazon and via Kindle Unlimited.

The first thing you need to know about this book is that the Christmas factor is high. Holly Bay itself is a Christmas town dedicated to all things ‘deck the halls’ rights through the year. In December, however, they kick the festivities into even higher gear and the community pulls together to welcome tourists, help one another and celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. The stores along the main shopping area are all named after something Christmas related, often carols, and the traders look after one another’s businesses.

That sense of community is beyond Ben’s understanding. He’s happy to see how Holly Bay supports their own and wishes that, in another place and time, his family could have experienced such caring. He was forced to grow up far too soon and, although he’s not grinchy, his heart is certainly hardened.

Maddie, on the other hand, sees beyond the bottom line and looks for the good in her circumstances. Her store is a legacy of bookish magic bestowed upon her by her late grandfather. She strives to be a good friend and neighbour but hasn’t found time for love. There’s a spark when she meets Ben but his secrets may be the undoing of their fledgling romance.

The key to this story really lies in Ben learning how to embrace life and stop living in fear of the unknown. He must realise his dreams too have merit and that he no longer has to bear the burden of supporting his family. A family that tries again and again to make him understand that. The rain storm towards the end of the story is well-described and seems to mirror Ben’s inner turmoil.

Overall, A Holly Bay Christmas is a quick, light, festive read perfect for the holiday season. I give it 4/5 espresso shots.

6 thoughts on “Review of A Holly Bay Christmas by Jo Bartlett #15BooksForChristmas #ChristmasReadingChallenge

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  1. Oh yay! So delighted you’ve read one of Jo’s books. It’s just gorgeous and warm and perfect for this time of year. Thank you so much. And hi there, Shalini! Thank you both of you for your 2020 support and wishing you all the best for 2021 xx

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