Thursday, November 18, 2021

Unwrap Some Christmas Charm

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Just in time for the Christmas holidays bestselling author, Courtney Walsh, gifts readers with  A Cross-Country Christmas (October 26th) . The charming Hallmark-inspired plot and cute cover drew me in. (For the record, I unashamedly love binging Hallmark Christmas so I had an inkling I'd thoroughly enjoy A Cross Country Christmas.)

Sitcom set designer Lauren Richmond isn't a fan of flying or Christmas. Because of this she hasn't been home to see her family in 3 years.
 Older brother Spencer arranges for her to hitch a ride with his best friend Will Sinclair. The same Will she'd spent half of her childhood crushing on and "[who] looks like Chris Evans after the super soldier serum." (Walsh, 10). What she thought was a 3-day roundtrip driving across country from The Golden State to the Windy City ends up taking 7 lengthy days. During the week long trip both Lauren and Will learn about each other's pasts all the while developing a relationship in the present. 

Hero Will Sinclair needs to be added to my ever-growing list of book boyfriends. He was so sweet, a little flirty and had an unexpected complexity. This complexity is one of the main reasons this book was so enjoyable. I am at the point in my reading where I am looking for real and relatable characters. He was someone you believed you could find in real life. Not your typical trope male character which was so refreshing. 

Lauren was a character I both related to and resonated with. Like her, I'm a planner and not great at the fly-by-the-seat of- your -pants scenarios. Also, like Lauren I had an unrequited crush on a family friend. Ms. Walsh really captures all the feelings and emotions a young girl experiences when they have a first crush. I love when stories can reflect life experiences and cause readers to recall with laughter and joy their childhood. 

I anticipated A Cross Country Christmas to be a feel-good, light-hearted read and it was all of these things, but the twist at the end made it a more tender and heart-felt and a read that has stayed with me long after I closed the book.

 A Cross Country Christmas is sure to make it into the stockings of bookworms this holiday season and in my opinion to be unwrapped and read. 

~~ A Cross Country Christmas was provided to me by the author herself in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own.~~

A Deep Divide is Solid

I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Woodhouse this summer. Let me tell you readers, Kim is a blast. So much fun! I felt like I'd known her for years. Her vivacious personality draws you in like a magnet. You're having a great time just being around her...that Kim's Chicks (nickname for fans of Ms. Woodhouse) is Ms. Woodhouse to a T!

I was so honored to be on her influencer team for this book and share it with you all. A Deep Divide is the first book in her new Secrets of the Canyon series. 

Heiress Emma Grace McMurray has been on the run "the past five years of her life had been living in a prison of her own making. Always running. Always looking over her shoulder." (Woodhouse,170). Working as a Harvey Girl she discovers a world of  "women of good  moral characters, manners, loyalty, and work ethic." (Woodhouse, 97).  Hoping for a fresh start she begins to carve out a life for herself at the new and popular El Tovar Hotel known for the majestic view of the Grand Canyon.

Ray Watkins works for his father's business but finds himself quite often balancing the practicing of the 5th commandment in the Bible and his conscience. Ray's father is all about promoting the Watkins name with the goal of it being internationally known.  He hopes to one day use his father's company to help others less fortunate. His path crosses with Emma Grace and he finds himself immediately drawn to her.  While Emma likes Ray she can't help but let her bias against wealthy men cause her to put up walls. She isn't quite sure what to make of Ray because "he wasn't at all like the other wealthy men she'd known. If she weren't careful, it would be far too easy to get caught up in all his talk of philanthropy. And his blue eyes." (Woodhouse, 184).   

Will Emma's past catch up with her? Will Ray and Emma be able to overcome it and discover a life together? 

Seeing the growth in Emma and how she comes to a saving faith and that faith actively changing her was one of my favorite parts of A Deep Divide. " The change that God had done in her was truly amazing...No longer did she feel weighted down." (Woodhouse 305-306).  It reminded me as a believer how God transforms our lives. 

Overall, I thought A Deep Divide was an intriguing story, however there were a few moments where I felt it lagged a bit while trying to create suspense and sometimes focused a little too much on developing theology, instead of building the mystery and suspense. This made it hard to fully connect and appreciate the story in its entirety because the momentum of the plot shifted

If you are looking for a slow build mystery and redemption story tied together, this is the book for you! 

~~A Deep Divide was provided to me by the author and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own.~~