Hope at Christmas by Nancy Naigle

Setting: Hopewell, North Carolina
Genre: Holiday Romance
Publisher: St. Martins Griffin
Release Date: October 10, 2017

For Sydney Ragsdale, this Christmas is shaping up to be a difficult one. Valentine's Day came and went with her favorite chocolates and a note from her husband that he'd met someone else and wanted a divorce. Sydney refuses to have him controlling her finances, so she packs up their 10-year-old daughter and moves to her grandparent's farmhouse in Hopewell, North Carolina. There, she gets a temporary position working in the bookstore she cherished as a child.

Kevin MacAlea, Mac for short, has been a single parent since his wife walked out on him and their son. She never looked back. Mac's determined to make sure the boy knows how much he's loved. As the town's mysterious Santa, Mac brings Christmas to life. When a young girl sits on his lap and tells him how she doesn't want her mom to be sad anymore, he makes it his goal to make sure Sydney knows she has friends in town. Little does he know the magic of the holiday may open his heart to more than friendship.

Strengths and Weaknesses

There's a lot that happens in Hope at Christmas. Therefore, I'd call this a multi-layered read. You have Sydney and her daughter. They're both handling the emotions of the divorce, moving to a new town, and settling into an older farmhouse. You have Mac who is doing everything possible to be the best single parent possible. There's Bea who knows she's getting older and ready to retire, but her passion for her bookstore has her longing for someone who will take over.

While there are a few things going on, the book is cohesive and doesn't jump around and lose the reader. I found myself involved deeply in each character and hoping for that magical happily-ever-after moment that comes with most romance novels.

RTR's Bottom Line

Of all the holiday romances I've read this year, I think I liked this one the most. It is a romance, but it's equal parts women's fiction. It didn't rush into the romance. Instead, it built up the relationships between Sydney and the rest of the small town. I felt like part of the town and loved getting to know the characters. Hope at Christmas was a win for me.


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