Sunday, November 8, 2020

Christmas at Aunt Elsie's (Seahorse Harbor#2), by Emily Harvale

Crescent Gate Publishing, September 2020

Charlotte Short has had a bad few years. Her parents died within a month of each other three years ago. She sold their house and bought a cottage in the country, and discovered that living in the country and growing even some of you own food was not the stress-free life she had imagined. She sold it, rented a flat, and got a job at a funeral home--and got involved with one of the partners, Clark.

And after two years, Clark dumped her, saying he had to "find himself," and went skiing with his friends. Oh, he also said he thought it would be best for her to leave the company. They had a loud, fairly destructive breakup, in the office.

The other partners were nice about, all things considered, but obviously she was out immediately.

Then a Christmas card and round-robin letter reminds Charlotte--Lottie--of her Aunt Elsie. Aunt by marriage, widow of her mother's brother Eric, who died shortly before Lottie was born. Despite relatively little contact over the years, since, her mother had always told her to remember that Elsie was a wonderful, caring woman, and would always be there if Lottie needed her. She decides to go to Seahorse Harbour for Christmas, and see her aunt.

She's not sure how her aunt or anyone else will react, since she hasn't called, emailed, or written about her plans, but the owner of the B&B she's staying in is welcoming and encouraging--and quite a gossip, but not of the malicious variety. Lottie is taking her dog, Merry, out for her walk when she runs into a gorgeous hunk who turns out to be Asher Bryant, the local vet. When she does meet Elsie again, and starts to meet her cousins-in-law, the daughters of Elsie's sister, Tippy, she starts to get a real sense of family that she doesn't feel entitled  to.

There's a lot of drama going on in that family, at the moment. Diana, the older of the two sisters, has separated from her husband, Alex, after his flagrant infidelity. But his mother has just been killed in a hit and run accident--in fact, Lottie arrived just in time to see the funeral going on not far from the B&B. Now, Alex says he "needs" her, and that he has Learned Better. Will Diana take him back? When Elsie and Alex are both injured in unrelated accidents, Lottie moves into Elsie's cottage temporarily to take care of her--and discovers a shocking family secret.

It's a very warm family drama, and a wonderful romance,  and a very dog-friendly story.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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