Vanessa Larkin was supposed to be spending Christmas in Paris, France on a business trip she hoped to enjoy as a working vacation. Instead, she’s been assigned to Fraser Hills, North Carolina—home of the Best Fruitcake in the USA—to convert her company’s property into warehouse space and shut down Porter’s, the fruitcake factory. Offering retirement packages and selling locals on new job opportunities may not spread holiday cheer, but Vanessa believes she’s helping secure the town’s future.
Mike Marshall’s family founded Porter’s. For decades, the factory served as the lifeblood of the community until his grandfather sold the business to a Chicago corporation. The sale cost the town its independence—and the Marshalls their family ties. A horse farmer, Mike was never involved with his grandfather’s company, but still felt Fraser Hills lost part of its identity. And as a widower raising a teenage daughter, he’s suffered enough losses in one lifetime. News of the factory’s closing means losing another piece of the town’s legacy.
Far from the skyscrapers and rapid pace of the city, Vanessa finds herself enjoying the easygoing rhythms of rural living. With Mike as her guide, she learns to appreciate the simple pleasures found in shared holiday festivities among friends. Fraser Hills is a town she is growing to love—and Mike is someone she is falling in love with. Now all Vanessa needs is a Christmas miracle to give her newfound friends and home a gift they’ll cherish for many New Years to come.
Title: A Heartfelt Christmas Promise
Author: Nancy Naigle
Genre: Christmas Contemporary Romance
Published: September 29, 2020
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
My Rating: 4.5 stars
I enjoy this author’s work any time of the year, yet she has a special magical touch with Christmas (or holiday) Romances… and A Heartfelt Christmas Promise continues that tradition for me.
To be fair, most of what you’d want to know about this story before picking it up can be found in the cover description blurb. I’d like to talk about the emotional pull of Vanessa’s experience with a place far outside of her normal life, which is deeply rooted in the big city.
Fraser Hills is as small-town as you’ll ever find on the map. A close-knit community, a large factory/business that employs many of the townsfolk, traditions that run back generations, and an easy laid-back feel to life. Instead of Paris, France this year Vanessa has been tasked with shutting down the local fruitcake factory, Porter’s, right before Christmas to make room for another business’s warehouse needs. It’s nothing too outside of the ordinary for this career-driven woman and she expects to get in, get out, job done in no time at all.
What Vanessa didn’t expect to discover was how this town and its residents came to matter to her. How closing down the one business that is part of practically everyone’s lives isn’t the smart thing to do. Or how much one man, his teenage daughter, and a whole lot of strangers would come to matter more than any job she’s ever taken on – to the point where finding another viable solution becomes more important than pleasing her bosses with another shut-down factory.
A Heartfelt Christmas Promise came alive for me with believable characters, a real-life situation that affects so many, the charm and the craziness of small towns, and how just the right person can make such a difference in another’s life. Call it love or fate, doesn’t matter really but knowing that you’ve found exactly what you didn’t know you were searching for comes across so strongly in Vanessa’s and Mike’s story. Plus the antics of one adorable puppy and some very majestic horses… and I was hooked from beginning to end.
I easily got lost in this world, and if you love a really good romance centered around the one thing that makes a small town unique and the rush to save it… along with falling in love then have I got a great story for you. A Heartfelt Christmas Promise should be on your reading list this holiday season (or any time of the year, really). (This story really needs to be a Hallmark movie event.)
*I received an e-ARC of this novel from the publisher, St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley. That does not change what I think of this story. It is my choice to leave a review giving my personal opinion about this book.*
Available in paperback, audio, or your favorite e-reader (mine is the Kindle)