Saturday, November 13, 2021

A Cross-Country Christmas by Courtney Walsh


A Cross-Country Christmas

Courtney Walsh is one of my favorite authors right now! Love reading her work.

Let’s begin with the summary:

Lauren Richmond isn’t a fan of Christmas.

Which is why she rarely makes the trip home to the Midwest for the holidays. After all, she has plenty to keep her busy—namely, her duties as a set decorator on a TV sitcom.

But this December, Lauren’s brother and his wife are expecting a baby, so her brother arranges a ride home for her with his good friend, Will.

Unfortunately for Lauren, she’s been trying to forget college baseball coach and childhood crush Will Sinclair for more than ten years.

Now, thanks to her fear of flying, she’s stuck in a car with him from California to Illinois.

She’s circumspect and organized. He’s flirty and spontaneous.

She’s convinced that people don’t change. He’s trying to prove to her (and himself) that he has.

On this cross-country road trip, they’ll both discover that history doesn’t exactly repeat itself. . . but like any good Christmas carol, it does have a second verse.

And now, my review:

One of my favorite reads in 2020 was Courtney’s A Match Made at Christmas, which was a holiday novella. I loved it. (See my review for that novella here.) So, how thrilling to find this full-length novel set at Christmastime released by her this year.

This was one of my favorite reads of 2021! Courtney has a gift for writing wholesome romance. Rom-coms are an ideal medicine in our current world—a chance to escape and laugh and feel good. And this story delivers!

As a self-published novel, the story has some unusual elements, including a couple scenarios and a few unexpected words that readers of trad pubbed Christian fiction may not expect. But nothing vulgar or profane. There were also a few typos, but nothing worth worrying about.

The hero is hiding insecurity and a secret pain, while being noble. And though he can’t forgive himself for his past, he’s still trying to push forward and make a difference. He’s three-dimensional and readers will respect, sympathize with, and connect with him.

The heroine has the hero pegged. No doubt in her mind he is what he always was. That touches on a major theme in the story: people don’t change. Sounds rather cynical, huh? I liked her layers and her competence. She has her own regrets and a well-guarded heart.

I love a romance where one of the MCs attempts to reach through the other’s walls, via kindness and patience, even when it costs them something to try.

Their careers make us respect them. He’s a goofball interpersonally and a flirt, but deep down he’s strong, protective. A leader. A coach and mentor. Seeing those elements makes readers admire him. She’s reading him all wrong.

Her work in the arts as a set designer was interesting, original. She's been successful with more potential, even though she came from a broken home. She’s a Type A personality, and she zeros in on what she wants. We admire her for these strengths. He doesn’t understand her whole story.

One of the themes was that we’re all multifaceted. We each have strengths and weaknesses and hopes and regrets. It takes grace to see each other’s potential and grace to let our pasts go.

I loved their progress toward a relationship, toward forgiveness and love. They’re driving cross-country, but their journey is as internal as it is external. I connected with both the MCs, with their strengths and aspirations, and with their layered-in weaknesses and regrets. Great characterization, pacing, storytelling, and romance!

This book was sooo good, I may read it again this season. Brava, Courtney, thanks for a fantastic ride!

Highly recommended!

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