Arc was given by The Wild Rose Press & NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
This review is being published on the release date (December 6th 2021)
Content/Trigger Warnings: Talk of cheating and womanizing
I must be in the mood for wholesome, cute, and romantic holiday read because I adored this read! I had my cup of coffee, my fuzzy socks on, and devoured this book in one sitting. Truly, I was geeking out over how precious this book was. Maybe it was from the small town vibes or maybe it was the fact the two main characters were so… so perfect for one another. Whatever the reason was, I was swooning and enjoying my time cozied up with this read.
Dustin Keith has always been a shy kind of person and the last thing he expected was, after doing the fire departments year calendar, women would be coming out of the woodwork, taking an interest in being “Ms. July.” More importantly, he never expected that after getting a call, one morning about a certain donkey on the loose, he’d end up meeting Lauren Badini. Lauren just came to Cedar Bend to help her aunt with her bakery. After having her heart and trust broken back in Denver, getting away from everything was exactly what she needed. But little did she know that coming to Cedar Bend would hold a lot more than just helping her aunt with the bakery. And she certainly wasn’t expecting “Mr. July” to show up in the bakery kitchen one morning. To think, it all started with a loose donkey and some protesting gingerbread men!
“He wanted a relationship like theirs. Someone who got him, just the way he was.”
I absolutely adore the main characters of this book. Dustin is very much the silent knight, dark horse kind of character, who you really want to get to know and see their personality unfold. However, Lauren is the character I feel dominates this book. Though we get both perspectives from both main characters, we learn so much more about Lauren than we do Dustin. Yet we these characters come together, I feel like we can truly see the kind of person Dustin truly is. And the quote above is probably my most favorite line Dustin says throughout this whole book, truly.
I think my most favorite part about this story was the themes of found family and new beginnings. I won’t give anything away, but truly this book has lovely themes in it. The found family Dustin has with his most closest friend is so wholesome and would warm any heart. And though there are many new beginnings, Lauren is the one character who stands out the most for the new beginnings. As she works through her trust hardships, she’s given opportunities that are paving a path for her to have a new, happier future.
“Legend has it if you kiss someone under the branches of the tree, you’re destined to fall in love with that person.”
There’s also the little legend of the “Kissing Tree” in this book. I thought this was such a lovely little detail and addition to the story. Not to mention with this being a holiday book, instead of the typical mistletoe, there’s this tree, the oldest tree that has a legend of love surrounding it. And every year this town holds a little holiday market around this tree. You all know how much I love small town vibes and anything that shows off small towns. This truly left me missing my own hometown and the little things it would do for the holiday season.
“The black denims she wore held a dusting of two man-sized flour handprints on her butt.”
While this book has wholesomeness and is easy to curl up with, there’s plenty of steamy moments. And let me tell you, the author delivers right from the beginning with sparks flying. While I can’t speak for other readers, I love when my romance books have sparks flying, almost immediately. The slow build to streamy moments is well worth the wait. I think my only complaint about this has been the fact that this book is so short and there could have been more sexy, steamy moments added in. Despite that, I really loved the intimate moments between the two main characters.
Overall, I had a wonderful reading this book. I enjoyed curling up with my coffee being able to sink into this lovely little town with these two delightful characters. As I said, the connection these two characters have is immediate and it really kicks your drive to read through, to find out what happens next. And with this book being so short, it makes for a quickly holiday read to unwind with at the end of day. Truly, I can’t recommend this cozy little book enough!
The quotes above were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.