Review – Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey

Her Holiday Man cover image

Publisher: Carina Press
Publish Date: Out now
Reviewed by: E
How I got this book: ARC from the publisher

Christina Forrester is starting over. After a financial scandal sent her ex-husband to prison, she’s left raising her young son without any of the comforts of their old life. Budgets, coupons, lawn care—you name it, she’s learning to do it all on her own. Well, almost on her own—she’d be lost without Gail Broughton, the kind widow across the street. But when Gail’s son comes home, Christina’s vow to never trust a man again is put to the test.

Will Broughton left town because he was tired of being “that poor man” who lost his wife and unborn child in a tragic accident. But years have passed and, with his dad gone and his mom alone, it’s time to go home. Only his mother’s not alone. She’s taken Christina under her wing, and the beautiful and determined single mother awakens something in Will he thought was buried forever.

As Will and Christina are forced to spend more time together, feelings that are more than neighborly grow between them. And with Christmas coming and a child filling both houses with holiday cheer, it becomes nearly impossible not to embrace the joy—and the love—in their lives.
This blurb came from the author’s website.

I was browsing available books when I spotted Stacey’s name and remembered I had enjoyed her Christmas themed stories in the past so I made sure to look at the blurb and had to request it. I really enjoyed this story and found myself alternately sniffing and laughing as Christina, Will, Gail, and Nathaniel went through a holiday season unlike any previous ones.

One of the things which captured my attention from the very beginning was how all of the characters were in a state of flux and unknown. Gail and Will were experiencing their first Christmas without Will’s father and Will had just uprooted himself to come home among the ghosts of his dead wife and unborn child to be present for his mother. Christina and Nate are trying to make it on their own in very different circumstances than Christina had ever lived because of her ex-husband’s actions and those of her former friends. Christina’s independent nature and refusal to give up had me cheering as she figured out how to keep things going in her new place and how to give her son a normal life.

I enjoyed watching the bonds grow between the four main characters. The open eagerness and trust Nate had in the adults in his life. Along with his joy in discovering the things most middle-class children take for granted. Gail seemed to find a new energy in life with Nate’s company and her joy in watching her son come back to emotional life as she subtly interfered. Will and Christina were fun as they grew together and yet resisted their attraction and friendship. Christina was determined to never depend on anyone again, or at least not depend on a man and Will didn’t want to open himself back up to unbearable heartbreak. Yet they both found each other occupying more and more of their thoughts and considerations.

Stacey did a great job building everything up slowly. I liked how it all started with friendship. Neither Will or Christina was in a mental or emotional place for romance at the beginning so their transition was sweet and touching. I loved how their feelings seemed to catch each off guard and by surprise because they grew organically. It wasn’t a smooth journey and the bumps made their HEA more believable. I also thought Nate was really the cornerstone because his joy and freedom to care brought it out in the adults but without seeming contrived.

Stacey has continued her tradition of creating holiday stories I enjoy. Gail, Will, Christina, and Nate provided me with emotional ups and downs as I followed them on their journey to becoming a family.

I give Her Holiday Man a B+

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