REVIEW: A Christmas by the Sea
A CHRISTMAS BY THE SEA by Melody Carlson is an instant-love, sweet romance that is easy to read in one sitting. I especially enjoyed the cottage renovations and the main characters’ creativity.
Why was this book in Dorine’s TBR? The cover drew me to it when I saw it listed on Amazon for .99 cents in November 2019. I purposely stock up on novellas for this month’s “we love short shorts” challenge. Intending to read two novellas by a favorite author, this new-to-me author’s book won for several reasons. I love seaside cottages, and rarely see a story centered on one in the US. Even rarer to see characters from my home state of Ohio. Also, I needed a holiday story fix. As long as it’s snowing, I can read Christmas themes. Cute cover, Christmas theme, cottage – check, check, check.
Widow Wendy Harper inherits a cottage in Maine from her grandfather. She takes some time off work in Ohio to renovate it to sell. Her son Jackson is over-the-moon excited about living in Maine. He just won’t listen to her hints that they’re only temporary residents.
Local artisan Caleb Colton senses Wendy needs this cottage and the small-town lifestyle more than she lets on. He also can’t resist spending time with her and her son. Can his helpful suggestions prove to Wendy that she belongs in her childhood vacation home permanently?
For those who are on the fence about Christian romance, this one is good to try. The characters believe in God, so they pray for guidance, but it’s not overdone. Those who love sweet, closed-door romances will be pleased that this one is just that. It’s fast and sweet and romantic.
I enjoyed the story and getting to know the characters. Even more, I appreciated the detail on fixing up the cottage, as well as the detail on Wendy’s crafts she made to decorate it.
Wendy was on the fence about when to tell her son that they had to sell this cottage and that they couldn’t live there permanently. I understood her reasoning for not being more honest with him, but she constantly worried about it. All that beating herself up for not being honest with him got old about halfway through the book. I just wanted her to get over it and tell him.
Other than that, the only other thing that bugged me was why she never took her son to meet his great grandfather when he was alive. As much as she cherished her memories vacationing in this cottage, it seemed odd that she didn’t visit it and her grandfather as an adult.
It’s nice to read a super sweet romance once in a while, but I felt the love happened a bit too fast. Yes, they had attraction, but to fall in love in a couple of weeks seemed a bit too fairy-tale to believe. Maybe that’s because the reader isn’t given enough detail about their time together to find it believable. Since it’s such a short story, that part felt rushed.
Overall, I think this novella does its job of introducing Melody Carlson’s style to new readers. I’d like to see what she does with a longer story and I wouldn’t be opposed to picking up more novellas by her. It’s a nice break in-between books to read a short.
This was a great choice for this month’s TBR Challenge. I have the hardest time meeting the deadline for January, so a “short short” theme is the only reason I can consider kicking off the New Year almost on time!
If you like short stories with sweetness lining the pages, then I think you’ll enjoy A CHRISTMAS BY THE SEA.
Review by Dorine, courtesy of TheZestQuest.com. A digital copy was purchased. Thanks in advance for following links and sharing this review on social media.
Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson
Category: Contemporary Christian Romance
Publisher: Revell; 1st Printing edition (September 4, 2018)
Rated 3.5 out of 5