An unputdownable, feel-good Christmas romance about fresh starts, the importance of family and learning how to follow your heart. Perfect for fans of Mary Alice Monroe, Rachel Hanna and Carolyn Brown.
As twinkling lights go up and snowflakes begin to fall, Laurel Hanover and her eight-year-old son are going home to the Cranberry Inn in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains. Laurel can’t wait to leave New York behind to help her father run the family business, and make snow angels with her son, even if it’s just for Christmas. But when she walks through the door, she’s shocked to find the inn in disrepair, and a letter saying her father will be gone until Christmas Eve…
No one in town knows where Laurel’s father is, and she doesn’t know whether to be worried or angry – but she won’t let the inn go under, and nothing will get in the way of the perfect Christmas for her son. Seeing the worn-out wooden bannisters, bare of festive lights, she immediately recruits her childhood friend, brooding local carpenter Joel Hutcherson. They might disagree on whether any walls actually need to come down, but each rip in the carpet makes Laurel more concerned for her father, and Joel is a welcome distraction. And when he admits that Laurel was his first crush, she realises she’s falling for him.
But then Laurel uncovers a card with beautiful, ornate writing amongst her father’s things and learns the real reason he disappeared. And it changes everything. Worse still, she thinks Joel knew the truth all along.
Laurel thought this was going to be the perfect Christmas – that maybe she had found her happy. But now there’s nothing to stop her from running back to New York the moment the baubles come down… is there?
Buy Link: Amazon: https://bit.ly/3od5VDa
What I Enjoyed
The Cranberry Inn by Barbara Josselsohn is a holiday tale that will make you look forward to visiting your family over the holiday season. The re-found family love and connection theme is pervasive. And the distance that had happened before the story opens is infinitely relatable as college, work, and marriage takes many of us away from our family as adults. The togetherness is challenging to maintain when you have so much geography in between you. It is heartwarming to see a family come back together, resolve their issues, and follow their hearts. Only good things can come from that.
I love the setting and the role it plays in the central theme of the story. Laurel comes home to her family Inn at her father’s insistence just to find him gone and the Inn that her mother had lovingly taken care of before she died in a state of disrepair. Her determination to get it back up and running is heartwarming, just as the descriptions of the Inn itself made me feel warm and cozy. The revitalizing of a family business that is the perfect holiday destination touched my heart and senses on so many different levels.
I also loved how all of the notable characters found a place to explore their best self and feel at home as a result. Don’t we all want to find that place if we haven’t? And what a perfect gift to the readers to make us feel that love and acceptance in a way we would never have expected.
The romance is surprisingly complicated. Everyone thought Laurel and Joel were an item in high school – that is, everybody except them. That made their discovery of what everyone else already knew more natural and a very low-key element in the story. The discovery of their mutual feelings fits perfectly into the central theme of the book. And, lastly, I love the story’s focus on the theme. Every little element is included, which creates a relatable, compelling, and heartwarming read.
What I Wish
I thought one particular aspect of the story peaked and was concluded oddly quickly, so my only wish is that Laurel’s issues with her father had been resolved more naturally. Or not fixed, and she worked through them within herself until she was at peace with her insecurities and choices regardless of her perceptions of what her father thought and felt.
Laurel is the main character. An interior decorator assistant in New York, her dream is to create beautiful and meaningful settings of her very own. She is a single mom, and her son Simon is a delightful reminder of how important a supportive environment really is.
Both Laurel and Joel left Lake Summers because they thought that was what their parents wanted for them. Joel has come back because of the death of his mother. He gets to explore his original love of construction as he helps Laurel repair the Inn. It takes restoring the Inn and all that it stands for to make the pair follow their hearts to fulfill their dreams and find each other.
I have to mention Christopher too. He is an actor that rented out the Inn while they updated it because he just had to get away and be alone. He pretends to be a teacher and provides bits of humor in the story as it unfolds.
To Read or Not to Read
If you are looking for that holiday story that will have you clamoring to spend time with family this holiday season, The Cranberry Inn is just the book you are looking for.
Barbara Josselsohn is an award-winning journalist and novelist who loves crafting stories about strong protagonists facing a fork in the road. Her novels center around second chances, family relationships and, of course, romance. She is the author of the Lake Summers series set in the fictional town of Lake Summers, nestled in the Adirondacks Mountains, which includes the books The Lilac House and The Bluebell Girls. Before joining with Bookouture, she published The Last Dreamer, a women’s-fiction novel from Lake Union Publishing, along with hundreds of articles and essays in major and regional publications about family, home and relationships. She lives just north of New York City and enjoys escaping to the beach or the mountains whenever she can. Other than writing, her biggest passion is her family: husband, her three kids, and her indefatigable shih-poo!