Guest Reviewed by Ami
Title: Sleigh Bells in the Snow
Author: Sarah Morgan
Series: O’Neil Brothers #1
Heroes: Kayla Green/Jackson O’Neil
Genre: MF Contemporary Romance
Length: 384 Pages
Publisher: Harlequin HQN
Release Date: October 29, 2013
Available at: Harlequin, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, All Romance Ebooks, iBooks and Kobo
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads
Blurb: Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green’s favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.
Jackson O’Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family’s resort—it’s in his blood, and he can’t let it fail. Now that he’s got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.
Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she’s out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it’s terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn’t believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?
Okay, first of all, no, I don’t think it’s weird to read a holiday story in June. I’m not celebrating Christmas anyway (I’m a Muslim), and I live all the way in Indonesia (no snow, alas!). But I do like to read holiday stories (yes, because I dream of snow and anything related to it) and if I must read one in June, so be it.
How about I lay out my complaints first before going to the good points? I think Kayla’s character is a bit inconsistent. I know that she is supposed to be this lonely girl who wants to avoid Christmas because of the bad memory – and she is also painted as somebody who is very good at her job. So, I slightly don’t like that she goes back and forth with ‘trying’ the Christmas tradition, rather than running from it. I know that it’s because she wants to ‘try the whole Snow Crystal’ experience, but she could just say upfront that Christmas is not her thing and politely smile (or wait, is that just me? Haha). Also, for a girl who wants to avoid Christmas, why the heck does she think VERMONT would be the right place? I know I’m not an American, but somehow I imagine Vermont and its snow would be, well, Christmas-sy during Christmas.
Oh, and I’m also not a big fan of Kayla being ‘reduced’ to a woman who couldn’t think smartly about her job because of a man. I mean, yes, it is said that she still comes up with a great idea for the place (which by the way, it’s never written on page, darn it!) but it seems that whenever Jackson is in her space, she ends up just thinking about his body and the ‘chemistry’, and not being able to work properly. Talking about ‘chemistry’ – why does that word need to be used to explain it to us, readers?
The sudden jolt of chemistry unsettled her.
The chemistry was a tight knot in her stomach and the frantic race of her heart.
As far as she was concerned, the chemistry was as unwelcome as Santa.
AANND, I wish that the story took place for more than one week, because it still feels rather instant-love to me, especially with that ending.
However, despite all those complaints I have, in the end, I still think that this is a great holiday story – we have snow; we have snow sports (skating, skiing, sleigh ride, heck even chopping woods – yes, that can be a sport!); we have gingerbread cookies, mistletoes, opening presents … and of course, the holiday romance *doodle hearts*.
I think Ms. Morgan portrays the pain that Kayla feels nicely, and the way the whole O’Neil family members welcome her and open her heart for possible happiness is wonderful. Jackson is a determined kind of guy and he does just the right things to unfreeze Kayla’s heart. I love Kayla’s interactions with the people in Snow Crystal and other people that Jackson employs. There’s a nice girl-get-together vibe when Kayla meets Brenna and Elisé. Always love that!
Plus, I am so frickin’ in love with the O’Neil’s family … there are tidbits of stories from other O’Neil members, like Jackson’s younger brother, Tyler, and his daughter. We also have a very touching scene of Jackson and his grandfather (My eyes were all teary during this moment). It’s sweet, it’s lovely, and a heartwarming holiday romance…
Overall Impression: I really liked it
*I purchased my own, personal copy of this book for review.*