Saturday, December 21, 2013

(Review) Married for Christmas by Noelle Adams

Title: Married for Christmas
Author: Noelle Adams
Series: Willow Park, #1
Published: December 1, 2013 (Createspace)
Rating: Staying in Tonight
Format: Digital galley received from publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Summary: After years of dreaming, Jessica is finally getting married, but the marriage isn't exactly what she thought.

Daniel is her best friend, and she's known him all her life, but he's never gotten over losing his wife two years ago. His dream is to become the pastor of the church in their hometown, but the small-town congregation keeps balking over calling an unmarried minister. Since Daniel needs a wife and Jessica wants a husband and family, she proposes an arrangement that benefits both of them.

They can get married. They can build a life together. They can celebrate Christmas as a couple. It's fine that he doesn't love her. And it's fine that she's not exactly suited to be a small-town pastor's wife. And it's fine that she's more attracted to her sexy, brooding husband every day.

Jessica can be practical about this marriage. She knows what she's getting into, after all...
I was beyond elated when I stumbled across Ruthie Knox's post about this book a few days ago. A Christmas romance! With a marriage of convenience! Between two people who are already friends! Those are three things almost guaranteed to get me to read a book, ALL ROLLED UP INTO ONE LOVELY PACKAGE. Obviously, I needed to read it.

I am happy to say that Married for Christmas fully satisfied my rather high expectations. It was stunning. It made me swoon. It made me giggle quite a bit, because Jessica and Daniel's interactions could be quite amusing. It made me cry, because amidst the fun exchanges, there were buckets and buckets of angst. Watching as problems got resolved, as feelings were revealed? I was blubbering like a baby. Adams captured just how awkward it really would be to suddenly find yourself married to a good friend, despite thinking you were ready for it.

I loved Jessica's pragmatism and her willingness to put herself out there and go after the future she wanted for herself. She did have insecurities, but was honest about herself and her desires most of the time. And Daniel. Oh, Daniel. I do have a fondness for pastor heroes. He wasn't perfect. He had lost his first wife in a car accident two years before and still had not fully accepted that, though he thought he had. He was struggling with things he did not admit to himself or Jessica for a long time. These caused him to withdraw from Jessica, which was perhaps not the best coping mechanism. It led to tension between the two of them that had not been there before. This made for a very uncomfortable situation, given that their marriage was already unconventional. Daniel had issues to work through, and the two of them had issues to work through together. But by the end, I was completely sure about their love for each other and the fact that their marriage was solid and, despite its origins, 100% real.

This book did have a bit of theological and religious discussion - as one would expect - but was definitely not enough to classify it as an inspirational romance. There was quite a bit about the Christmas events Daniel's church was hosting. And it was great! This book really did have Christmas as an integral part of the story, and it made me very happy to see.

I was definitely a fan of Married for Christmas! It was the embodiment of several of my favorite tropes and did not disappoint at all. I will be looking forward to the next books in this series.
First:
Jessica Cameron had to propose marriage in a couple of hours, and she was a little nervous about it.

Favorite:
She knew he'd been comfortable financially, since he'd saved for years and didn't splurge on anything except books.

(*gigglesnort* Huh. Clearly I have been splurging on the wrong books.)

Teaser:
"For a rather infuriating man, you really might be the best husband in the world."
"I'm glad you recognize it."

*All quotes taken from an advance copy and may differ from final version.

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