The Santa Suit -Mary Kay Andrews

Newly divorced Ivy Perkins has purchased a white farmhouse, sight unseen, in the small town of Tarburton, North Carolina. Having shopped and completed all transactions related to the home purchase online, she is a bit dismayed at the condition she finds the home in when she arrives. Fully furnished, with old, dusty pieces and other junk left from years past, Ivy spends her first few days going through rooms and closets, packing things up for the local thrift store, with the help of her surprisingly young, good-looking realtor, Ezra. She pulls a box down from the top shelf of a closet, and finds an old, beautifully crafted Santa suit, that must have belonged to the prior homeowner. In a pocket she finds an old letter, written by a young child, Carlette, asking Santa to please bring her father home from the war. Intrigued that Santa had held onto this letter, Ivy begins to wonder what became of Carlette and her family…

As Ivy starts exploring her new hometown, she quickly befriends some of the locals, including a young girl set to marry a soldier she’s not yet met, a woman getting ready to close her family’s candy shop at the end of the year and a delightful 96-year-old long time resident of Tarburton. Meanwhile, she’s slowly developing an attraction to Ezra, even as she tries to tell herself otherwise…

But Christmas is coming to small town Carolina, and with Christmas, miracles can happen…

This was a sweet, heartwarming story, with all the feels, that has me more than nostalgic for past Christmas seasons. A quick, satisfying read, and I might have shed a happy tear or two before I turned the last page. I loved it! A wonderful story to start off the holiday season! 

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an objective review. 

What You Deserve – Alicia Lawson

FBI Special Agent Erin Hastings is reveling in her recent arrest, achieved after ignoring a superiors’ order, when she is called to assist with another couple of unsolved slayings – this time in California, much too close to the hometown she thought she’d fled forever, after discovering that her twin brother, was in fact a killer – a fact that haunts her to this day. 

From the start, Erin seems to be a petulant individual, constantly at odds with her superior officer, Brody – behavior I wouldn’t expect to be tolerated in a rural police force, much less the FBI – but it’s fiction, with the promise of a series to come, so I just kept on reading. When Erin goes to visit her brother and re-establishes a relationship, it was hard not to like him more!

As the investigation heats up, and the team finds a probable suspect, that’s when the storyline really picked up for me!  The plot twists were unexpected, frustrating, but captured my interest as I plowed through the remainder of the novel. I also think the second of the series cannot come fast enough, as there were definitely a few strings left, just waiting to be pulled in successive novels, a vengeful predator in particular! 

Not a bad start for what is sure to be another great mystery series down the road. Hopefully Erin’s character will develop more depth as the series continues – I have no doubt that Ms. Lawson will find her stride!  I look forward to Erin’s next adventure!

I received this book as an Advance Reader Copy from #Netgalley & Relay Publishing, in exchange for an objective review.