I’m not in the mood for Christmas. After a romantic relationship went up in flames, I returned to my hometown in rural Kansas. Then my mother passed away. I’m really busy with my job as fire marshal—and now with my mother’s advice column, which I reluctantly took over. There’s a sexy newcomer down the street, a guy with a young daughter and an unfortunate disregard for fire safety. He seems to want to be friends, but that creates problems that may be too hot for me to handle. The last things I need right now are flammable holiday decorations and too much holiday food. How am I supposed to give good advice to others when I can’t seem to get my own life straight?
—Bah Humbug in Bailey Springs
I’m not much of a newspaper person. I suppose that has to do with the fact that I’m not much of a news person. When my hubby became a first responder years ago, I found I had to tune out the news for my own sanity. However, whenever I make the post office run to snag our office mail, I flip over the paper and look for the ‘Dear Abby‘ column first thing. I love it! I adore the solid and straightforward advice and find myself nodding along in agreement and sometimes shaking my head in disbelief. When I saw Fielding’s holiday advent addition of ‘Dear Ruth‘ I knew I’d enjoy it. Yep. I was right.
Bryce is the small town fire chief and he’s finding the Christmas spirit elusive this year. His mother passed away recently and the pain is still sharp in his chest. He’s been saddled with taking over her advise column in their local paper and finding it especially difficult to direct people when he’s a bit lost himself. Then his new neighbor shakes and rattles his equilibrium even more. He’s attracted to Noah but doesn’t think it’s reciprocated. Or maybe he’s just distracted and not picking up the signals? Sweet, small-town romance around the holidays…yeah, Fielding definitely knows how to report the hot story here.
Of course, it goes without saying that I enjoy the writing, I enjoy everything that comes from Fielding’s bookshelves. A little sass, a dash of sweet and a dose of spice…it’s a marvelous combo. Being a small town girl myself, I always enjoy a quaint quiet setting. Despite its novella size, I found the story complete and fulfilling. And then we have the characters…
The characters! I can’t think of a Fielding creation that I haven’t adored and Bryce & Noah were no exception. I enjoyed the setup and the column advise seeking style but it was the characters that make this story light up. Bryce is protective, loyal and terrible at flirting. Ha! I loved the way he wanted and craved and then stumbled and fumbled when his wishes came true. We don’t get into Noah’s head as much, but it’s easy to tell he’s funny, sweet and loving. And Harper! What a doll and a great addition to the short story. Put ’em all together and what do ya get? A great read is what!
With only fifty or so pages, diving deep is hard to do. But if you are looking for a full novella, I believe this fits the bill. For a firefighter’s tale, the heat factor is fairly low. However, I’m still wearing my smile that resulted from the final pages.
If you’re looking for an easy HEA with a hearty reality check and don’t mind children in your stories, you should pick up this holiday treat.