This book was given to me by Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.
Dani Capelli seized a chance to start over in a small town with her daughters. Now, facing her first Christmas in Haven Point, she wonders if leaving New York was a mistake. Dani loves working alongside veterinarian Dr. Morales, but her two children aren’t adjusting to small-town life. And then there’s Dr. Morales’s son, Ruben—Dani’s next-door neighbor. Gorgeous, muscled and dependable, the deputy sheriff is everything she secretly craves and can’t bear to risk loving…and losing.
Ruben never pictured himself falling for a big-city woman like Dani. But beneath her prickly facade, she’s caring and softhearted and she needs all the love and protection he can give. When Dani’s teenage daughter starts acting out, Ruben draws on family traditions to show the girls just how magical a Haven Point Christmas can be. But can he convince Dani that she’s found a home for the holidays—and forever—in his arms?
I have often said there is nothing happier than a Christmas romance novel, and this is no exception. I am a pretty seasonal reader – I tend to read with the seasons, and have a hard time with summery books in winter, and so on. But a Christmas romance I can generally read anytime, especially if I am going through something and need some happy in my life.
And this book certainly delivers on the uplifting, have faith in people, love one another front. Haven Point is all about second chances, so veterinarian Dani Capelli has landed in the right place for a new start with her two daughters. She works for just the type of vet you would expect in a small town, kindly and sweet. And Dani herself, despite a sort of standoffish demeanor with the residents of Haven Point, is nothing but love and cuddles and concern when it comes to the resident’s pets. Dani would love to make Haven Point work for her and her daughters, but find herself holding everyone she meets at arm’s length, especially her boss’ attractive son Ruben.
However, when her daughter Silver lands herself in some hot water, Ruben steps in to help Dani and the family out. This whole thing, Ruben and his interactions with Dani, Silver, and Mia, is so heartwarming, that it makes the entire book. Ruben gives the benefit of the doubt where so many wouldn’t, and takes the Capelli family under his wing. He introduces Dani and her daughters to the traditions of the season in Haven Point, slowly but surely winning them over, one by one.
But Dani has a secret that she feels she needs to hide from the town. Can she trust Ruben with her secret, and her heart?
I loved this book. I loved Dani and Ruben, and my heart went out to poor Silver. But it is the sense of community in these books that gets me. A small town that cares about its residents, where people know each other, help each other, do things like bake cookies and shovel snow for neighbors. Practice forgiveness, extend a little understanding and compassion, and are not so quick to judge. The fact that all of this is taking place at Christmas makes it all the better. This book was a quick read, but a very good one. Perfect for a day that you need a pick-me-up!
To enter to win a brand spanking new copy of this book, just leave me a comment here with your email on this post by midnight on September 24th! A comment about a winter or holiday tradition would be fun, but not necessary. 🙂 I will choose the winner via randomize.com.
You don’t need a blog to win, just an email! Must also live in the US to be eligible for mailing purposes.
I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears.
When Danny’s mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there’s also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they’ve kept hidden—even from one another—have led to Danny’s abduction?
As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he’s taken from them forever.
I was immediately drawn to this book by this cover -so moody, so mysterious. And the name – Bleak Harbor – is a tip off that maybe this coastal town has some secrets that aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Perfect for that beginning of fall read, where summer is waning and the leaves are just starting to turn, and instead of beach reads, you want something a little darker.
At first, this book seems pretty straight forward – a boy goes missing, and his family is desperate to find him. But then, little by little, all these secrets spill out, there are twists and turns, all woven together so well that the reader never sees them coming. And you never feel like something just came out of left field – it all masterfully falls into place, and the reader is drawn to finish the book as fast as possible, just to see what the heck happens next! And the characters were perfect in that perfectly human way – not without flaws, this was not a glossy magazine type family despite that they are the descendants of the town founders, they had their own past and secrets too.
As a Michigander, I love that Gruley is a Detroit native and that the setting is a small town on the water in southwest Michigan. Everyone loves to find bits and pieces of places and things that they know and are familiar with in a story, and it was neat to see references dropped in to cities I have visited. I especially liked the addition of a Mexican restaurant named Xochilmilco – I am only guessing but perhaps a named for one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in Detroit. I also liked how Gruley wrote Danny. He didn’t stick to a stereotyped version of someone who has autism, and in fact, addresses these stereotypes a few times within the book itself, and challenges the reader to change their perception of what they think autism is. I am not personally very familiar with the diagnosis, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of Gruley’s depiction, but I do like how he writes the character of Danny.
Overall, I loved this book. I found it exciting, and I couldn’t wait to see what would come next. It was chock full of mystery and surprise, and it was exactly the type of book I have been craving.
It is raining today, and I am sitting here drinking my coffee. My little is at preschool after a bit of a tearful drop off this morning. It was hard to leave, when his little face was all screwed up in a sad face, swallowed up by his yellow duck raincoat. But I kissed his cheek and headed to my car, missing him too.
There is something about rain, right? That makes us more sentimental? Or is that just me? This past summer, Wyatt and I got up and were getting ready for our day, eating breakfast and reading books about bears. This kid loves bears. I was sipping my coffee, looking out the clear blue sky, talking and reading with him as he drank his milk and sort of ate his breakfast. I thought about the beautiful blue sky outside, and how the days was supposed to be mild, only in the 70s. And I thought, it’s a great day for the zoo! I asked Wyatt if he wanted to go see a bear, right now, today, and he of course told me yes, in the way that he has. He doesn’t say yes, or shake his head yes, but he puts his hand up to his head and moves his hand forward, like he is going to shake his head. When he was a baby, and with his gross motor disabililty, we were showing him how to shake his head, by putting our hands gently on him and showing him how to do it. His takeaway was that you use your hand to manually do it. We know what he is saying though. And I want to add, he says the word no, verbally and very clearly…lol.
So, I left him to finish breakfast and began rushing about the house to get our stuff ready for a day at the zoo with a three year old. All the important stuff went into a backpack, I loaded his stroller and him into the car, and off we went, into the wild blue and green day. The weather was perfect, the music was playing, and then..fifteen minutes from the zoo, the sky opened up and it just started pouring down rain. I had thoughts of Noah and his ark as I headed down the highway. It wasn’t supposed to rain! The forecast never said rain. I called my husband and had him check the weather for me – and he reported that there was seriously one lone rain cloud over where the area I was. And the zoo. He also told me that he thought it would blow over quickly. I decided to keep going. We had decided we were going to see a bear, and we were going to see those bears, rain be damned!
I arrive to a mostly empty zoo, most sane people staying in out of the rain I guess. I headed in to the gift shop and bought a poncho for Wyatt and an umbrella for me. Neither worked out for us. The poncho was too big, and came too close to his face for my liking, and I couldn’t manage to push the stroller and hold the umbrella. But still, we were not giving in. I put the hood up on the stroller to keep him as dry as I could, tucked the poncho around his legs, and kept going, getting wetter and wetter with each step.
And of course, zoos are designed with the Big Attraction animals at the back, to make people walk through the whole thing. I don’t know if that is purposeful, but it seems like it to me. And the Detroit Zoo has an extraordinarily long walk into the actual zoo. So we basically had to walk all the way to the back of the zoo. We took random breaks under trees (it wasn’t storming, just downpouring) and stopped to look at other animals, if there was a shelter for us. But for the most part, we persevered. Wyatt thought it was a blast, honestly. I was soaking wet, and he was wet but we made it to the bears.
And it was awesome. We were the only ones there, just standing there in the rain, looking at the bears. One of the bears was sleeping in the sheltering cave feature, but the other was hanging out in the rain. He had been relaxing, maybe enjoying the cool rain for a bit, and when we arrived, he looked up at us. And there we were, the three of us, in a downpour, all looking at each other. It was a moment that I feel I will remember forever. Wyatt and I looked at each other, smiling, then back at the bear, who kept his steady brown gaze on us. Maybe he thought we were nuts. Maybe he wanted us to go away, as he had been enjoying the solitude, although we were not talking or making any noise. It was sort of..pure. Powerful. It was so quiet, just the sound of the rain pattering away on the umbrella and the trees. There was no attempt to grab a photo, especially with my arms full of preschooler and an umbrella. Nothing to distract from the moment.
We stood there a little bit, not too long, but long enough. Eventually Wyatt went back into his stroller, all tucked up, eating his goldfish which somehow he could eat without them getting soggy, and we slogged back to the car. But it felt different now. At least for me. I felt more carefree and less upset about the rain. I guess though once you are wet enough, who cares? I wonder if the morning would have been the same had I had our raincoats. I kind of think it wouldn’t have been.
Now when it rains, I think about the bear, and standing in the rain with my son, all alone, looking at a bear who was looking back at us.
Last week I was waiting on so many books at the library – and of course, most of them came in all at once. So I finished up Bleak Harbor (so good!) and started Where the Fire Falls. I am enjoying this read so far – I love that it takes place in Yosemite in the 20s!
Reading This Week:
I’m going to finish up Where the Fire Falls, and start Crooked House, which was my pick for our book club this month. I am looking forward to it – I have only read a few of Christie’s books but have really loved them. I need to read more!
Anne with an E – I love this show, although it gives me great anxiety for the characters. Lol. We are also watching Land Girls on Netflix, which is really good, and the Great British Bake Off.
How about all of you? What is happening in your part of the world?