Friday, November 27, 2009

YotC Review: Home for the Holidays

Title: Home for the Holidays
Author: Sarah Mayberry

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Published: November 2009
Harlequin Super Romance

From the back cover ~

Joe Lawson has a thing for his new neighbor Hannah Napier. As a single dad, he shouldn't be thinking what he is about her. Still, that doesn't stop them from getting close. And the way she connects with his kids, it's as if they're a family.

Turns out it's too good to be true. Seems Hannah has plans that don't include staying in Melbourne. Joe won't stand between her and her dreams, even though letting her go is nearly impossible. The holidays are looking grim, with him and his kids missing Hannah like crazy. But it is the season of surprises, and Hannah may have one for them!

The cover ~ I like it. It's not too sugary sweet. The people look "real" and although most of the book doesn't take place during the holidays it still gives the feeling of the book.

So what is going on? Someone who used to shun Harlequins is now buying them when they are released? The world has tilted on it's axis and life as we know it has cease to exist. Okay, not quite that dramatic but still... a category author is now an auto buy for me is not something to sneeze at. Sarah Mayberry has become one of my favorite authors for 2009. I've yet to be disappointed by her books. I relish the chance to read her and will no doubt be sad once I've read her entire backlist. Then I'll have the long wait for her next release.

Home for the Holidays isn't a typical romance. There's a deceased wife, two kids - one's a teenager, an ex-fiance and a strained sibling relationship. Add to that the rocky start Joe and Hannah get off to and it certainly doesn't seem like they have any chance at becoming friends much less a couple. But Mayberry works her magic and Joe and Hannah get beyond those bad first impressions and get to know each other.

Joe Lawson is still feeling his way through the rough waters of single parenthood. He moves himself and his two kids, Ben and Ruby, to Melbourne to start over and be near his mum. In doing so he puts himself next to a woman who is so not his type. His first encounter with Hannah does not go well and he doesn't look forward to seeing his new neighbor again. Hannah isn't too happy about the "jerk" that has moved in next door. They almost subconsciously notice the attractiveness of the other but squash that down because how could they possibly be attracted to someone so exasperating?

Hannah Napier could not be described as a "delicate flower of womanhood". I can practically hear her snorting at the thought. LOL She is a mechanic and enjoys working on restoring a classic motorcycle in her spare time. Most comfortable in jeans and t-shirt, she is out of her comfort zone when dealing with dresses and make-up. But even in jeans and t-shirt Joe can't help but notice Hannah's curves. Even while being irritated by her, he still notices that she is all woman under her grease monkey exterior.

The conflicts, and they are many, are well developed for such a short format. Joe and Hannah must not only deal with their growing feeling for each other but also with the feelings of Joe's two kids. Ben is a teenager (13) who's unhappy with the world and is under pressure from school to try and fit in. Ruby is a precocious 10 year old that quickly takes to Hannah. At first, Joe isn't happy about Ruby hanging around with their "biker chick" neighbor. As Joe gets to know Hannah, he realizes what an important part of his family she is becoming.

I really enjoyed the dynamics of the characters. The way everyone kind of shifted and moved into place to create a new family. The moves weren't always smooth, there were definitely bumps along the way. Sometimes more shifting needed to be done but eventually two people became a couple and four people became a family.

So chalk up another win from Mayberry. Once again she's given the reader a romance couple different from the usual fare. With a heroine who can rebuild an engine and a hero who does laundry and washes dishes. The love scenes were sweet, sexy and funny. Two people who resort to getting hot and heavy in a car because they have no privacy at home makes for some hot and frustrating scenes. And the way they overcame their past pains to get to the point where they could trust and hope again was well written and left me, once again, happy to have found Sarah Mayberry's books. (Thanks KMont!)

Sarah Mayberry's website can be found here.

Rating: A


  1. Lovely review! Another one for my own growing collection of Sarah Mayberry categories. ;D You're not the only one, lol!

  2. Thanks Hils! I've still got a few to find to add to my collection as well. :)

  3. Woohoo! I have this one! Finally, I'll be able to try one of her book :D I'm glad you enjoyed it :) Make me look forward to it a bit more :D

  4. nath ~ so you're finally going to try a Mayberry. LOL I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. :)

  5. You know what? I realized on Thursday morning that I bought the wrong Harlequin!! Luckily, I was able to still find it in store, phew.

  6. nath ~ what book did you buy the first time? curious...

  7. Hmmm, Her Secret Rival by Abby Gaines. seriously, I don't know how i picked up the wrong book!

  8. *he still notices that she is all woman under her grease monkey exterior*

    I would think this would be a turn on for any guy with appreciation for the dirtier pastime arts. ;)

    *The conflicts, and they are many, are well developed for such a short format.*

    This is waht I love about a Mayberry. Even if the book is only about the one main romance plot, there's still plenty of believable conflict.

    *a hero who does laundry and washes dishes*

    Hot daaayum, U just sold me on this book. Aside from that Mayberry name on it lol.

  9. Kmont ~ I don’t know how she does it but Mayberry always makes me feel like I read a much longer book. She's an auto-buy for me. :)