Christmas in A TOWN CALLED NOELLE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary F/F Christmas romance from M. K. Hardy. A TOWN CALLED NOELLE is set in a Michigan small-town and features a driven baker dispelling a lifetime of disillusionment for a grieving woman.

About the book:
Just a few days before Christmas, high-flying city exec Brooke Hawkins is forced to return to her small home town due to the death of her mother, who she hasn’t spoken to since she left for college over a decade before. The town, Noelle, is as full of the Christmas spirit as its name suggests. Brooke is more of the “Bah, Humbug” persuasion. She has a funeral to attend, property to sell, and she wants to do it and leave—preferably before December 25th. Unfortunately, the weather and the pace of small-town life both conspire to keep her right where she is.

Small-town baker Holly Jackson gets a nasty shock when she receives the news, just days before Christmas, that her little shop is about to be sold from under her by her late landlady’s estranged daughter. In the years since her husband died in a tragic accident, she and her daughter Maya have been getting by, healing and rebuilding. Holly was beginning to really enjoy life again. She doesn’t plan to let some woman she hasn’t seen since high school come in and ruin everything.

When Holly and Brooke cross paths, sparks fly—and not in a good way. Brooke is determined to sell up and get out of town—and outrun her bad memories in the process. Holly is determined to make her business work. When an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, can the spirit of Noelle change minds… and melt hearts?

My Review:
Brooke Hawkins believes that everyone in her hometown of Noelle will hate her–that’s what she’s been told by her estranged mother all her life, after all. Brooke left for college and hasn’t returned until her mother’s death–and the need to settle the estate. For Brooke, this means selling all her mother’s property and returning to her regularly-scheduled, if lonely, life.

Holly Jackson grew up with Brooke, and looked to her mother as a mentor. She admired Brooke somewhat in school, but they were never close. Holly’s a widow now, raising a young daughter and working hard to make her quirky bakery one of the must-stop places for tourists to Noelle. She’s not happy when her realtor calls to tell her that her lease is being broken–because Brooke is selling the property to a developer and Holly can’t even make a bid.

In such a small town, it’s inevitable that they will meet, and Holly let’s Brooke have it, confirming Brooke’s suspicions of being the odd-woman out. It seems her mother was highly respected by the community, and no one really knows how emotionally abusive she was to Brooke growing up. Brooke wants to sign all the paperwork and leave, but ice storms and a blizzard cut her quick escape off. Force to endure an extended stay in Noelle gives Holly the chance to apologize for her fiery temper–and maybe kindle a tiny spark of desire and connection that each woman needs.

This is a short read, with two rather interesting main characters. I liked them both, but I didn’t really get a good sense of their connection. Brooke was enchanted to be included in Holly’s plans–including the holiday festivities–once she could get over her ingrained shyness. There aren’t many tender moments on the page, which made it hard for me to really understand what changed for Holly, in terms of her attraction to Brooke. I get that she was emotionally connected to the decisions Brooke made that ultimately played in her favor, but Holly’s sudden interest in a physical relationship with Brooke–who could jet out as soon as the weather clears–didn’t have a firm grounding, to me. It’s a decent story, but my disbelief at the situation and the plot couldn’t stay suspended long enough to reach the happy ending.

Interested? You can find A TOWN CALLED NOELLE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
MK Hardy is the pen name for two geeky women living and writing together in Scotland. They’ve been writing partners for eleven years and life partners for nine. When they’re not typing frantically at one another they like to walk the dogs, cuddle the cats, drink cocktails and play boardgames.

Catch up with MK Hardy on their website, Facebook, and twitter.

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