New Release Review and Giveaway! SNOWFLAKE BAY by Donna Kauffman (Brides of Blueberry Cove #2)

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SNOWFLAKE BAY
The Brides of Blueberry Cove #2
Donna Kauffman
Released Sept 29th, 2015
Kensington: Zebra

There’s no place like seaside Blueberry Cove, Maine, at Christmas—and there’s nothing like a wedding, the warmth of the holidays, and an old crush, to create the perfect new start…
Interior designer Fiona McCrae has left fast-paced Manhattan to move back home to peaceful Blueberry Cove. But she’s barely arrived before she’s hooked into planning her big sister Hannah’s Christmas wedding—in less than seven weeks. The last thing she needs is for her first love, Ben Campbell, to return to neighboring Snowflake Bay…

As kids, Fiona was the bratty little sister Ben mercilessly teased—while pining after Hannah. But Fi never once thought of Ben like a brother. And that hasn’t changed. Except Fi is all grown up. Will Ben notice her now? More importantly, with her life in a jumble, should he? Or might the romance of the occasion, the spirit of the season, and the gifts of time ignite a long-held flame for many Christmases to come…

Something old might just become something new…

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 Excerpt-Banner

Feeling somewhat better about herself now, she disentangled herself from the satchel strap, then began mentally rehearsing a summer-weddings-are-so-beautiful speech while she looked around for something to scrape the wool scarf out of her mouth. Deciding to get herself unwrapped first, she fished out the end of the scarf, already feeling her fair skin chapping even as she stood there, the warmth of the kitchen creating something of a sting in her thawing cheeks. The struggle with the scarf started almost immediately. It was as if her curls had begun actively weaving themselves into the knitting, becoming one with every loop and knot.

So, she was more wrestling with the scarf than unwrapping it, really, swearing somewhat creatively, possibly a wee bit passionately even, by the time a deep male voice that was quite decidedly not her big brother’s baritone spoke from far too close behind her.

“I’ve got bolt cutters in my truck. We could just cut you out.”

Fiona froze. Stock-still. And not because of anything having to do with the coastal winter weather or being out of shape. She wasn’t breathing hard. In fact, she might never draw breath again. It had been, what, ten years? Longer. She’d lost track.Or, more truthfully, you’ve blocked it from your memory banks. Blocked it back when the owner of that voice had left Blueberry Cove for college in Boston, excited to get started on fulfilling his dreams—none of which included coming back to his hometown. At the time, blocking her memory files had seemed the only way she’d ever survive not having him in her daily orbit ever again.

She felt his big, broad palms cup her shoulders, turning her slowly around to face him, and stupidly squeezed her eyes shut, as if that would change this sudden new reality. All it did was delay the inevitable.

“Fireplug?” he said, as the top half of her face became visible when he pushed the curls from her forehead and the scarf from where it was now haphazardly draped diagonally across her face. There was sincere surprise in his voice. “Is that you inside all that sheep’s clothing?”

Fireplug. All of the air came back into her lungs in one big, sucking gasp. Emphasis on the sucking. Her cheeks burned again, only the sting of remembered humiliation coupled with the memories of her pathetic, unrequited crush on her brother’s best friend, who’d only had eyes for Hannah, far—far—outstripped anything a Maine winter could do to her fair skin.

They were both many years older now, she reminded herself, and that meant wiser as well. Although she didn’t feel wiser at the moment. At the moment, she felt instantly thirteen again, pining after a guy who’d barely noticed her, and when he had, had seen her as nothing more than the nuisance kid sister of the girl he was trying to impress.

Of course, that girl was now engaged to another man, and for all Fiona knew, her childhood crush was married himself, with a bundle of kids stashed somewhere. Hell, for all he knew, so was she. Which meant, yeah … the distant past was just that. Distant. And past.

She prided herself on taking an extra moment to steady herself and let her breath ease out, then slowly back in again, before opening her eyes. Okay, so she was still half-tangled in a woolen neck scarf and she wasn’t exactly making eye contact with him, but it was a start. A mature, grown-up start. Between two, mature, grown-up people.

So why is your heart racing like it’s the first time a man has ever touched you? More to the point, why are all your other more mature body parts clamoring for him to touch a whole lot more than your shoulders? You’re both potentially married with kids, remember?

Only she wasn’t married. Didn’t have kids. Not even the dimmest of prospects of either on the horizon. A horizon that, at the moment, was completely consumed with a big, tall, rugged reminder of all that she didn’t have. Had never had. A reminder, it should be noted, who still had his hands on her.

All her line of vision allowed, however—now that he’d turned her around so her back was to him, tipping her head forward to allow him to work her hair free from the scarf—was the Michelin Man-style, double-padded red snow coat she’d buttoned around her short, curvy frame, under which was a layer of thick hoodie, a long-sleeved turtleneck, and a T-shirt. She surprised herself by letting out a muffled snort. “Well, if the nickname still fits,” she murmured, proud of herself for embracing the humor in the moment, only to discover a split second later she was blinking back stupid tears.

Maybe no matter how much a person grew up, no matter how much she matured, she thought, mortified all over again, there would always be a part of her who was still that same, invisible thirteen-year-old girl.

Review-Banner

 

I’ve read some of Ms. Kaufamn’s other genres–though apparently so long ago, it was pre-my-using-Goodreads (SO long ago, I know! Those days are nothing but a hazy memory…) so I’m not sure exactly which ones. Some of her more steamy contemporaries, I know, and at least a few of the modern-fairy-tale series. I didn’t even realize she’d jumped on the small-town contemporary romances, but I was definitely game!

It probably goes without saying that the rest of the Brides of Blueberry Cove” and Bachelors of Blueberry Cove books have already been added to my TBR, surely? 😉

Snowflake Bay is such an adorable book, and with a Christmas theme to boot! After finishing it, I’m almost ready to deal with the snow (don’t anyone DARE tell Mini-Moe #2) and absolutely ready to put up the tree (Ditto! I mean it, too–she’s already been singing Christmas songs. Loudly. And slightly off-key.) Plus, it is an unrequited teenage love/friends to lovers book, so yeah. Wins all around.

I absolutely loved Fiona and Ben. Fi is just so adorable–a classic middle sister (not exactly child, since there’s four of them, but close enough) she’s always trying to keep the peace and smooth things out for the siblings around her. And she’s been in love with her older brother’s best friend forever. Not only didn’t he have a clue, but he was openly “in love” with her older sister, Hannah, for their entire adolescence.

Yep–the one who was the heroine of book one in the series ( Sea Glass Sunrise ) and who’s planning her wedding (with Fiona’s help) in this one. So obviously THAT romance isn’t going anywhere.

Fortunately for Fiona.

Making her an even more endearing heroine, Fi’s also slightly accident prone–especially if diabolical clothing’s involved and Ben’s in the vicinity. The scarf incident when they meet for the first time in years, when he offers to extricate her from its clutches with bolt cutters? Too funny. Many, many chapters later when she is (literally) trapped in ugly bridesmaid dress revenge hell and talking to Ben about it on the phone? Even funnier. And not just because chain saws are mentioned. I just love this couple, and Ms. Kaufman’s way of writing them.

And Ben…the poor guy is quickly forgiven (well, by me anyway, which isn’t quite the same as Fiona doing so–but she comes around pretty quickly too, especially when he lays a toe-curling kiss on her to ease it along) for his years of cluelessness where Fiona’s involved. Once he starts to see her as an adult and as a person of interest, he can’t unsee it. Fortunately, Fiona’s far from over her crush on him. Also fortunately, older brother Logan’s (mostly. usually. he’s pretty sure…) okay with it.

The two move fairly slowly, considering–and with the busiest time of the year happening for Ben (he’s just taken over the family Christmas tree farm) and some family issues for Fiona, they spend a good chunk of their early days–and some middle days too–mainly in phone calls and texts rather than actively seeing each other.

They totally make up for it later. 😉

Instead of a true relationship black moment, they have more of a personal crisis/decision point, which I liked–it’s hard to imagine either one of them going overboard in a dramatic blowup, and it would have felt contrived. Instead their relationship felt like it was a perfect progression for the two of them, considering. And the big question/answer to their shared dilemma moment? Oh-so-perfect, at least for these two.

Ms. Kaufman gives us a tantalizing peek into youngest sister Kerry’s story at the end–can’t wait!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.

The USA Today bestselling author of the Cupcake Club Romance series, Donna Kauffman has seen her books reviewed in venues ranging from Kirkus Reviews and Library Journal to Entertainment Weekly and Cosmopolitan. She lives just outside of DC in the lovely Virginia countryside, where she is presently trying to makeover her newly empty nest into something that doesn’t have to accommodate piles of sports equipment falling out of her coat closet (okay, out of every closet…and under every bed….), size 13 cleats and sweaty uniforms cluttering her foyer (and stairwell, and laundry room, and…), and a kitchen that should have come with a traffic light. And a pantry monitor. (Anyone with a clever idea on how to repurpose lacrosse sticks into matching reading lamps, she’s all ears!) When she’s not stripping paint, varnishing an old auction house find, or trying to avoid bodily injury with her latest power tool purchase, she loves to hear from readers!

 

 

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