Wednesday, October 30, 2019

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Christmas from the Heart by Sheila Roberts - Book Tour & Review


CHRISTMAS FROM THE HEART

Sheila Roberts

* Women's Fiction *


Title: CHRISTMAS FROM THE HEART

Author: Sheila Roberts

Publisher: MIRA

Pages: 304

Genre: Women’s Fiction





Olivia Berg’s charity, Christmas from the Heart, has helped
generations of families in need in Pine River, Washington, but this year
might be the end of the road. Hightower Enterprises, one of their
biggest donors since way back when Olivia’s grandmother ran the charity,
has been taken over by Ebenezer Scrooge the Second, aka CFO Guy
Hightower, and he’s declared there will be no more money coming to
Christmas from the Heart.

Guy is simply being practical. Hightower Enterprises needs to tighten
its belt, and when you don’t have money to spare, you don’t have money
to share. You’d think even the pushy Olivia Berg could understand that.

With charitable donations dwindling, Olivia’s Christmas budget
depends on Hightower’s contribution. She’s focused her whole life on
helping this small town, even putting her love life on hold to support
her mission.

When Guy’s Maserati breaks down at the edge of the Cascade foothills,
he’s relieved to be rescued by a pretty young woman who drives him to
the nearby town of Pine River. Until he realizes his rescuer is none
other than Olivia Berg. What’s a Scrooge to do? Plug his nose and eat
fruitcake and hope she doesn’t learn his true identity before he can get
out of town. What could go wrong?


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The scenery on Highway 2 was travel magazine


worthy. Guy had seen enough of the world to know heaven when he saw it, and Western Washington with its lush trees,



sparkling waters and mountains was, indeed, heaven. Not a bad detour if you had



to take one.

Guy roared through Monroe, then Sultan and


Skyway, racing past forests and rivers, pastures, and barns. The snow was



really starting to come down. He’d have to stop and chain up once he reached



the pass.

Three miles past Gold Bar his steering lost


power, turning the car from a smooth driving, purring tiger to a rhino. He



checked the dash and saw his alternator light was on. What was this? He pulled



over, got out and opened the hood and looked under it to discover that his



serpentine belt had broken. No notice, sudden as a heart attack.

Except for that squeal. He’d heard it earlier,


too, but hadn’t paid attention.

He had no choice but to pay attention now. Guy


may not have been an expert on cars but he did know that without that belt, he



was going nowhere.

Frowning, he pulled his cell phone out of his


North Face jacket. He hoped he wouldn’t have to wait long for his towing



service to get to him. Who knew where they could tow him. Would he find a



garage anywhere that would have a belt for an Italian sports car?

No cell reception. Oh, yeah, it just got better


and better.

“Great,” he muttered. He’d just had this baby


tuned up a couple months back. He shouldn’t be stuck here in the middle of



nowhere. Why had he paid extra at the foreign car dealership for all those



maintenance checks if they weren’t going to check and maintain everything?

There was nothing for it. He’d have to walk back


to town and find a phone.

He slammed the hood shut, pulled his boots out


of the trunk and put them on, still frowning. He liked snow, he was fit enough



to walk ten miles if he had to. He just didn’t want to. He wanted to reach his



destination. Thanks to whatever Gremlins had hopped in his engine along the way



that probably wasn’t happening today.

He was just starting his trudge to town when an


older model Honda Civic passed him and then stopped. It backed up and the



passenger side window slid down. “Looks like you’ve got car troubles. Would you



like a lift?” offered the driver.

Hadn’t this woman’s dad ever told her never to


pick up strangers? If she was his sister he’d sure rip her a new one for



stopping to let some man in her car, even in a blizzard. She had green eyes,



curly hair the color of honey and plump, little kiss-me lips. Any crazy would



climb right in and do who knew what to her.

Guy wasn’t crazy, but he was pissed, and in no


mood to make polite conversation.

 “That’s okay, I’m fine,” he said, and


continued to trudge on.
Freezing his ass off. Okay, maybe he was crazy.

Except, pissed as he was, he’d generate more


than enough steam to keep warm.
She sure was cute though.

She coasted along beside him, backwards. “Not


that you don’t look fit enough to walk, but it’s a ways in either direction.



Cell phone reception can be spotty.”
He’d already discovered that.
“Maybe you’re afraid of girls?” she teased.

Not this girl. She had a smile like a magnet.


Did he really want to walk back to Gold Bar?
He got in. “Thanks. I appreciate the lift.”
“Where are you headed?”

Idaho. Christmas with the


family.” Step-family.
“Oh, my. You took the long way.”

“I had to stop in Arlington and pick up something


for my mom.”

She nodded and smiled, obviously impressed by


what a good son he was. Was this woman always so trusting?

He felt compelled to ask, “You don’t always go


around picking up strangers, do you?”
“Oh, no.” She smiled. Man, those lips.

“That’s good. Cause you never know what kind of


crazies are out there.”
“You didn’t look like one.”

“Ted Bundy probably didn’t either. Ever hear of


him?” Okay, that sounded creepy.
Her smile faltered momentarily.

“I promise I’m not a serial killer,” he said in


an effort to uncreep himself.

The smile returned full force. “I didn’t think


so. I’m a good judge of character.”

“Yeah?” Suddenly he was feeling a little less


pissed.

“Oh, yes,” she said with a nod that made the


curls bounce.

He was a sucker for curly hair. You hardly ever


saw women with real curly hair anymore. Why was that?

“And what makes you such a good judge of


character?” he teased. She smelled like peppermint. He wondered if this little



cutie was taken. Hard to tell since she was wearing gloves. There had to be a



ring on that left hand. She looked about thirty, and by their thirties hotties



like this one were never single. Or if they were they came with baggage.

“I deal with a lot of people. You get so you


know.”

“Yeah? What do you do?” Coffee shop waitress,


perhaps? Judging by the car she was driving, nothing that paid much.
“I run a non-profit.”

Oh, no. One of those. A person out to help


others … using someone else’s money, of course. The memory of his unpleasant



encounter with Olivia Berg arrived on the scene, irritating as jock itch. He



could feel his jaw tightening.

This woman isn’t Olivia


Berg. Don’t take your irritation out on her. “What’s the name of your organization?”



he asked, the very image of diplomatic courtesy.
“Christmas from the Heart.”

“Christmas from…?” Oh, no. This wasn’t


happening. This was some sick dream.
“Have you heard of it?”

“Uh, yeah.” The last thing he wanted was to be


captive in a car with this woman. “Hey, any place you can drop me where there’s



a phone will be great.” In fact, let me

get out of this car right here, right now.

“I can do better than that. We’re not far from Pine River where I live,” she


said. “We’ve got a garage there and Morris Bentley is an excellent mechanic.



They can tow your car and have it fixed in no time.”
The sooner the better.

“My name’s Olivia Berg. My friends call me


Livi.”

He would not qualify for friendship once she


learned who he was. As far as this woman was concerned he was the devil



incarnate.
She gave him an encouraging glance. And your name is?

Oh, boy. He could feel the sweat sneaking out of


his pores. He’d been perfectly justified in cutting loose her little charity.



He had no cause to feel guilty. None. But there she was smiling at him like



they were on the road to friendship. Little Olivia Berg, the great judge of



character. And here he was, feeling like Scrooge in front of a firing squad.



With no blindfold.

Even though he had nothing to be ashamed of he


couldn’t seem to spit out his name. Lie.

“Joe.” Yeah,


Joe. Good, old everyman Joe.
Her expression asked, “Joe What?”
Joe…Joe… Why was this woman so pushy?

A truck rolled past, sending up a rooster tail


of snow. “Ford,” he added. “Joe Ford.”
“Nice to meet you, Joe.”
She wouldn’t be saying that if she knew who he was.





 


My Review
Christmas From the Heart is a sweet romance novel set in a small town in Washington. It follows Olivia Berg, a woman who runs a nonprofit to help the members of her small town with the Christmas holiday. Expecting some serious donations, Olivia is cut off from one of her biggest donors  (aka Scrooge) and has to struggle to find ways to make up the difference, or there will be no Christmas in Pine Grove. But what happens when Scrooge himself shows up in town after his car breaks down? Will he see the error of his ways?
I found Christmas From the Heart to be a sweet, endearing read. I normally don't read books like this, but something about the synopsis made me want to give it a whirl. And I'm so glad I did. The story had me grinning from ear to ear a lot of the time, and it made my heart feel full of joy and love.
However, there were times in the story where I absolutely hated Olivia or Guy (or both). Like at the beginning. Olivia was extremely pushy (I get it, but still...) and kind of annoying. Guy was a bit too mean in his dismissal of Olivia and her charity. And then Olivia became petty and held a grudge.
Both characters ended up growing on me, though, and by the end, I had forgiven them both for being so dumb about everything. Olivia for being a fusspot who couldn't let things go and be more understanding, and Guy for being abrupt and harsh and petty.
Christmas From the Heart is an easy read, and it made me think of Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, which makes sense, considering the author has had another book turned into one. I could definitely see this one as a movie, and I even pictured specific actors while reading the book.
The imagery conjured up by the words is vivid and makes you feel as though you're actually in Pine Grove. And the story itself makes you feel good. You'll want to go out and do good things for others after reading this story.
I'm rating Christmas From the Heart 4.5 stars. Check it out!
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Best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen her books published in a
dozen different languages and made into movies for both the Hallmark and
Lifetime channels. She’s happily married and lives in the Pacific
Northwest. When she’s not hanging out with girlfriends, speaking to
women’s groups or going dancing with her husband she can be found
writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family,
friends, and chocolate.


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