Join award-winning author Melody Carlson for a Christmas story that will warm your heart and have you dreaming of your own enchanted seaside holiday.
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About the Author
Melody Carlson is the award-winning author of over 200 books with sales of more than 7 million, including many bestselling Christmas novellas, young adult titles, and contemporary romances. She received a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award in the inspirational market for her many books, including Finding Alice. She and her husband live in central Oregon. Learn more at www.melodycarlson.com.
Read an Excerpt
WENDY HARPER never considered herself a deceitful person. In fact, she was so scrupulously honest that it sometimes got her in trouble. Yet as she drove her jam-packed Subaru wagon over the Maine state line, she felt a gnawing sense of guilt. Maybe it was deceit by omission, but she knew it was wrong to let Jackson draw his own conclusions about their trip. Even if it was a convenient deception, she needed to convey the truth to her son. Without squelching his spirit — and hopefully before they reached their destination.
Wendy turned on the wipers, praying there wasn't snow in the drops pelting her windshield. It was late November, and although Ohio had been unseasonably warm when they'd left home, she knew that weather could change in an instant on the eastern seaboard. She glanced over to see that Jackson had drifted off. He might be a preadolescent, but he always appeared younger and more vulnerable while sleeping. Of course, his sweet innocence only added to her mother lode of guilt. She resisted the urge to adjust his oversized glasses, currently resting cockeyed on his straight freckled nose, or to remove his bright blue earbuds. Best to let sleeping boys lie.
Wendy knew her twelve-year-old was on the cusp of manhood. He was already as tall as her, and his voice had recently grown a bit deeper and cracked occasionally. Her best friend, Claire, claimed it was because Jackson was trying too hard to grow up and take his father's place. "He confided something to me last summer when he was helping me with yard work," Claire had disclosed just days ago. "He said Edward told him he'd have to become the man of the house ... you know, after ..."
Wendy had been both surprised and dismayed to hear this. It was hard to believe her husband would say such a thing to a child. What a heavy load to lay on a nine-year-old. Yet it did explain Jackson's change of interests these past couple of years — giving up soccer and lacrosse, spending more time at home. She loved that he was reading more but hated seeing him turn into a young hermit.
Jackson had even begged Wendy for home school, claiming he could keep up with his studies online. Worried about social isolation and lack of supervision, Wendy had promised to make this decision after Christmas. He'd protested, but a phone call from her grandfather's attorney provided the perfect distraction. Although Poppa had passed away last summer, Wendy had never expected him to leave her his beach cottage in Maine. When Jackson heard the news, he acted like they'd won the lottery! Even though she was touched by Poppa's generosity, her only goal was to get the property sold ASAP.
"We gotta go there!" Jackson had declared. At first she balked, knowing they couldn't afford the round-trip airfare or the time a drive from Ohio to Maine and back would require. But Jackson kept pushing until she finally gave in. Taking a few days off work during Thanksgiving week sounded doable — and that way she could personally meet the Realtor, list the house, and hopefully sell the cottage quickly. That money would help her and Jackson immensely.
The decision to drive to Maine was like a tonic for Jackson. A whole new boy, he'd even quit complaining about school. Of course, she eventually discovered that was because he'd been telling everyone that they were permanently relocating to Seaside, Maine. Despite her telling him to pack only enough for two weeks, he'd shoved everything he could fit into every crevice of her old Subaru. But his erroneous assumption had been so transformative that she'd simply kept her mouth shut. She just couldn't bear to rain on his happy parade. Oh, she attempted to dissuade him a few times. She'd warned him that the beach cottage was just a summer place that would be freezing cold in winter. But Jackson, ever the online researcher, insisted they could weatherize it themselves.
"And I can chop firewood and fix things," he'd offered. Every obstacle she tossed his way was soundly batted back with stubborn youthful optimism. Even when she described the house as a tiny, run-down shack — probably dilapidated, rodent infested, and rotting — he totally dismissed her concerns. And as she'd stuffed the last box into the back of the Subaru, she'd noticed Edward's old toolbox wedged in a corner.
Wendy glanced at her rearview mirror to see the stacked boxes and bags filling the back of her car. Unsure of what they'd find in the neglected cabin, she'd packed everything but the kitchen sink. And since her boss had generously granted her additional vacation time, they would be in Seaside for a while. Almost until Christmas.
Of course, her packing and preparations had simply bolstered Jackson's confidence that they were "gone for good." And with each passing mile, his excitement and optimism had grown. While it made him a congenial traveling companion, it made her increasingly uneasy. She really needed to get him to understand their real purpose.
In his enthusiasm, Jackson had gone online, researching all he could find about Seaside and the Maine coast. Now he was convinced that he would learn to fish and sail ... and to surf next summer. The more he'd shared his hopeful dreams the harder it became to disclose the whole truth. She hinted when she got the chance, but how could she admit that the real purpose of this trip was to spend a few weeks fixing up the beach cottage — then sell it? It would crush him.
Wendy didn't know the real value of Poppa's beach cottage, but even if it was a dilapidated wreck, which was possible, she felt certain the beachside location would be enough to wipe out the medical bills that insurance didn't cover and provide a small safety net for her and Jackson. If she was lucky it might even pay off their student loans and seed a small college fund for Jackson. She was probably overly optimistic, but no matter what, it would help.
She never discussed finances with Jackson, but Edward's battle with cancer had left her deep in debt. Even after selling their home, which had little equity, and moving to an "affordable" apartment, she'd been unable to climb out. Edward hadn't worked long enough before getting sick to have much in social security benefits. Certainly not enough to support them. So inheriting Poppa's sea cottage felt like a gift from God — just what they needed to get back on their feet. She was determined, no matter how much Jackson loved it and protested, the cottage must be sold.
Jackson suddenly sat up, giving her a start. "Are we there yet?" He chuckled at his own gaffe. "Sorry, Mom — you warned me not to say that again."
"Well, as it turns out, we passed the Maine state line around noon and —"
Jackson let out a happy whoop. "You should've woken me up. How much longer till Seaside?"
"I really hope to get there before dark. Why don't you check the GPS and tell me our ETA." She knew how Jackson liked acronyms.
Within seconds, he reported that they would arrive at their destination in three hours and seven minutes. "According to my calculations, that will be about 3:54," he declared. "Unless we stop."
"Well, I do need a pit stop and we need gas. I don't think Seaside even has a gas station," she told him.
"And I'm kinda hungry."
"We'll grab a quick bite and eat it in the car to save time."
"Sunset is supposed to be at 4:09," he told her. "That's because Maine is so far north. The shortened daylight time might take some getting used to, but I heard the long summer days make up for it. Do you know that the astronomical twilight lasts until almost eleven o'clock in late June? That'll be so cool."
"I don't know what an astronomical twilight is, but I do remember very late summer evenings." She grimaced to think of how he'd never get to experience that.
"Did you go to Seaside every summer as a kid?" he asked with interest.
"Every summer I can remember. Well, until I was seventeen.
I had a job that summer — and then it was college and the distractions that came with it."
"Like getting married?" he teased.
"Right. After graduation, Dad and I moved to Cincinnati for his work. And not long after that, you came along, and, well, life just got busier and busier." She remembered how she used to long for Seaside, like clockwork, every summer — even more so when it got hot and humid in Ohio.
"So you haven't been back in almost twenty years? That's like a whole 'nother lifetime, Mom."
"Seems like it to me too. But even so, I can remember every bit of it like yesterday."
"Tell me more about it, Mom. You haven't really given me that many details."
She considered how to paint this picture without making it too rosy — or being disingenuous. "Well, the ocean is beautiful. That obviously won't have changed. And you'll see it soon enough."
"What about our house, Mom? And don't tell me it's falling down."
"The house ..." She imagined the picturesque cottage with its weathered cedar shingles and white painted trim. "Well, I do recall the toilet had to be flushed twice ... and the musty smell of the back porch and how the front porch sagged a little."
"Tell me something good, Mom."
"Let's see ... the living room had this massive rock fireplace. I think my great-grandfather built it. The stonework was really pretty ... although the fire would smoke up the house on a windy day." She sighed. "But the truth is I loved that smell. It would seep into my clothes, kind of like being around a campfire. And then there was my little dormer bedroom. It was tiny, but I loved it. My window looked out over the sea." She smiled at Jackson. "In fact, you can use that room if you like." Although she wasn't eager to take occupancy of her grandparents' downstairs bedroom, it would be the "grown-up" thing to do.
"Awesome!" He nodded. "Tell me more about our house."
"My next-favorite room was probably the kitchen. It had a big old gas stove and a linoleum floor that squeaked when you walked. There were buttery yellow cabinets and blueand- white checked curtains on the windows. And Gammi used to make the best clam chowder — from clams that we dug ourselves. I hope I can find her recipe."
"How old were you when your grandma died?" "I was in college," she said sadly.
"And then your parents died right after that?" His voice was laced with longing and she felt bad for the way her son had been deprived of extended family. Edward's parents had their own busy lives down in Fort Lauderdale, and hers had been killed in the car wreck.
"It was a few years later — you weren't even one when my parents died."
"But you must've been close to your grandpa? I mean, since he left you his beach house."
"I never thought that we were close, exactly. Poppa was a pretty stern man. At least I thought so when I was little. He always seemed very serious and set in his ways. But he did love to go fishing — and sometimes he took me with him." She hadn't even told Jackson about Poppa's boat, but she doubted it was still around. "I do know that Poppa loved me. And he really loved Gammi. I never doubted that. But I spent most of my time with Gammi. She was always willing to go down to the beach with me, or ride bikes into town. And on a rainy day, she could always come up with something fun to do — card games, puzzles, baking. She was a very good artist and taught me a lot about painting."
"Maybe that's why you're such a good artist, Mom."
"Well, that's an overstatement ... but maybe someday I'll have time to take it up again."
"So it was just you and your grandparents there — for the whole summer every summer?"
"Sometimes Aunt Kay and Uncle Rob and my cousin, Larry, would come. But they never stayed long." She chuckled.
"But that was fine with me since Larry and I never really got along too well."
"I don't know ... I guess he wasn't interested in outdoor things."
"Not interested?" Jackson frowned.
"He never wanted to do anything. He didn't want to go fishing or clamming or shell gathering. I couldn't even get him to build a sandcastle with me."
"Sounds pretty boring."
"Yeah. I always felt relieved when they went home."
"What about your parents? Did they ever go to Seaside with you?" He sounded intent on fitting all the puzzle pieces of this fragmented family together.
"Not much. They both had their work and their lives in the city. My mom would show up sometimes on a weekend, you know, since Gammi and Poppa were her parents. But I always got the impression she was just putting in her time.
She didn't like being there. She'd complain about the wind or the dampness or how sand was in everything. Plus my mom didn't like seafood at all. And Poppa loved fishing almost better than anything. That's about all we ate. Probably one reason I love all kinds of seafood now."
"Well, your grandpa must've loved you a lot, Mom, to leave his cottage to you like he did."
"I think he knew how much I enjoyed being there. He left his other house, in upstate New York, to my cousin, Larry. And since there were only two grandkids, I suppose it seemed fair to leave the cottage to me." She felt a different wave of guilt now, wishing she'd taken Jackson to Seaside sooner ... while his great-grandfather was still living. Although she'd faithfully sent cards and letters and photos to Poppa, she'd never been able to make the trip back there. Certainly she'd had plenty of good excuses — work and life demands and then Edward's illness. But now it was too late.
"What was your most favorite thing about summers in Seaside?"
"My most favorite thing?" She considered this. "With so many wonderful memories, it's hard to say. I loved just being at the cottage with Gammi. I also enjoyed getting ice cream in town ... and fishing with Poppa ... but my most favorite thing was probably the beach itself. Seaside has a good shell-collecting beach. I loved going out early in the morning, searching for treasures."
"Yeah, I read about the beach. It sounds cool."
"And my grandparents were fabulous beachcombers. The cottage was full of all sorts of shells and sea glass and whatever they'd drag home after a storm."
"Do you think they're still there? The shells and stuff?"
"Oh, I don't know ... I hope so." Seeing the rain had stopped, she turned off the wipers. "I'd always hoped to find a sand dollar on that beach." She noticed signage for the town up ahead and turned on her signal to exit. "But I never found a single one. Gammi and Poppa only had three sand dollars. They kept them up on the mantel. Hopefully, they're still there."
As Wendy pulled into the gas station and convenience market, she felt a small rush of excitement. Maybe this was what Jackson felt — the eager anticipation for what lay ahead.
As they emerged from the car, she got a whiff of what smelled like pungent sea air — or maybe it was her imagination. But in the same instant, she felt the child inside her waking up, demanding to know: Are we there yet? Was it really possible that her beloved Seaside was only a few hours away?
Fortified with chicken tenders, potato skins, and drinks, Wendy and Jackson hurried back to the car just as the sky opened up and let loose another deluge of cold, pounding rain. As Wendy started the engine, turning the wipers on full blast, her earlier enthusiasm waned considerably. Her plan to disclose the truth to Jackson before their arrival loomed above her — just like the dark clouds overhead.
"This is the best day ever," Jackson declared as he dipped a piece of chicken in the barbecue sauce. "I haven't felt this good since ... well, you know."
She did know. So maybe it was okay to live in a delusion — even if only for a short while. Didn't she and Jackson deserve a small measure of happiness? Even if it was only temporary ... or delusional? Jackson deserved a break from his middle-school tormenters — and no one could deny that Wendy was overdue for a vacation. Even her boss acted eager for her to go. "Just be back by December 23rd," he'd reminded her on Friday. "I've planned an important full-day staff conference — a meeting of the minds and a bit of a holiday party. I want you there too."
That gave them a little more than three weeks — plenty of time to fix up the cottage and place it on the market. Hopefully it wouldn't even take that long. The bigger question was, how long would it take for Jackson to realize how small and isolated Seaside truly was ... and how dead and boring it could get when winter set in? A generous dose of disillusionment might be just the ticket to get him to change his mind about becoming a permanent resident there. She could only pray.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "A Christmas by the Sea"
Copyright © 2018 Carlson Management, Inc..
Excerpted by permission of Baker Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved the book but the ending was to much of a fairy tail
Check out the full review at Kritters Ramblings Probably my favorite Melody Carlson holiday book that I have read and I think I have read them all! Wendy Harper inherits a family beach cottage at just the right moment in her life when she and her son need it the most. Right before the holidays they move to this cottage to reinvent it and sell it and go back to their lives, but plans don't always go as they may.
Sweet Seaside Romance This is a sweet and clean romance that takes place in a small coastal Maine town. There are elements of faith throughout the story, but it's not overwhelming. This story could lead to a series. The plot is simple, yet well done. The characters are totally believable, but somewhat one dimensional. The story is good enough for me to keep and re-read again later. I will also be looking for more of this author's work. I received this book for free and this is my honest review.
I enjoyed this heartwarming Christmas story about a widowed mom who inherits a beach house and has to decide to sell it and pay her bills or keep it and start fresh in a new town. Sweet charming story, but I felt that the ending was just a little too rushed and implausible. Perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber who are looking for some Christmas cheer. Thank you, Negalley for the advance read of this title.
When Wendy Harper inherits her family's beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in--temporarily, she reminds him--in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist. This is a very heartwarming story about a single mother, Wendy, trying to survive the aftermath of her husbands death. All she wants to do is whats best for her son. She thinks its fixing up the cottage and selling it. Jackson, her son, has other ideas. He wants to stay and does everything in his power to make it happen. Then there's Caleb. He also wants Wendy to stay. I could see this as a Hallmark Christmas movie. It's a feel good book with a happy ending. I was given this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was not compensated in any way.
I was completely charmed by this short, sweet Christmas novella. Melody weaves wonderful Christmas stories and this is without a doubt my favorite of all of them! Sweet characters(I adored Jackson!), a lovely setting and a great story line make this a great read. Definitely one for my keeper shelf! I received this book from the publisher, and was not required to post a positive review. All thoughts are my own.
I've gotten a jump on Christmas reading list and so far they have been wonderful! A Christmas by the Sea is no exception. A Few years ago I was introduced to Melody Carlson and every year since I look forward to her annual Christmas book. I couldn't help but get hooked into the story of their plight and cheered when Wendy and Jackson seemed to fit right into life in Seaside. When it seems like life doesn't seem to have any more chances, being in the right place at the right time can give you a little boost. Sometimes even a mom can learn to have a little faith from her child. A Christmas by the Sea is for the reader who wants to be inspired by some Christmas cheer spurred on by the hopes and dreams of a boy like Jackson. I enjoyed watching this story unfold better than any cookie cutter themed movie laden with commercials! Each character in the book, like the people in our own lives, serves a purpose. When Wendy started digging into the repairs of the cottage she found so much more than what waited back in Ohio. Many thanks to Revell Books for the opportunity to receive a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I recommend you pick up a copy of this book and discover Melody Carlson's gift for putting the spirit back into Christmas.
I love the cover of this book. It's so quaint and inviting. I found myself wanting to visit that little cottage. The author has exceptional attention to detail. I can picture scenes in my head, hear the dialogue and feel what the characters are feeling. I loved this about this book. What was more of a struggle for me was how descriptive everything was. I felt like the beginning of the book moved so slowly. I wanted the ride in the car at the beginning to be done much quicker than it was. I felt the details were great but it slowed down the story. Especially at the beginning of the story, when the reader is trying to get the pace and understand the characters and what's going on in the plot, a bit faster moving would have been more interesting in my opinion. I kept going and the story fell into a nice rhythm. I enjoyed it. Great book for reading on a cold night with a blanket and a cup of something warm. Love these shorter Christmas books. They don't take a super long time to read and are just fun stories. I would love to read Ms. Carlson's other works. I received a copy of this book as a member of the Revell bloggers program. This has in no way influenced my review. All thoughts are my own.
A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson takes us to Seaside, Maine. Wendy Harper is traveling with her son, Jackson from Ohio to Seaside just before Thanksgiving. Wendy inherited a beach cottage from her grandfather. It is an answer to her prayers since she has a slew of debts incurred from her deceased husband’s battle with cancer along with student loans. Wendy has managed to get a month off to renovate the cottage and get it listed for sale. Jackson is excited about the trip and wants to relocate to Seaside permanently. The cottage is in better condition than Wendy expected, but it still needs some work. She hires Gordon, the local handyman, to help with the repairs. Jackson is thriving in the new environment. He makes a friend, finds a dog and enrolls himself in school. One day Wendy is at the hardware store and meets Caleb Colton, a furniture craftsman. She is surprised by what she feels when near Caleb. Wendy admires his beautiful furniture (works of art) and his Christian values. Wendy knows she should do the responsible thing and sell the cottage. However, she is drawn to the town, the cottage and a certain woodworker. To stay in Seaside, though, she needs a steady income stream. Christmas is rapidly approaching, and miracles have been known to happen. A Christmas by the Sea is a charming Christmas story. I thought it was well-written with steady pacing. It is a wholesome story with a light Christian element. The Christian themes include the importance of having a strong faith in God, prayer, reading the Bible, trust in God, and know that He will answer your prayers but not always in the way you expect. I liked the characters with Jackson being my favorite. He is delightful with his infectious joy. I like how he learned to complete certain repairs courtesy of online videos (they are helpful). I enjoyed the descriptions of Seaside and the ocean. There is a wonderful scene where Jackson and Wendy are finding sand dollars on the beach (they are not easy to find). Colton’s furniture sounded beautiful along with the seashell creations made by Wendy. My one complaint is the ending was rushed along with the romance between Wendy and Caleb. An epilogue would have been appreciated (a year or two later). A Christmas by the Sea is a short book at only 167 pages. One of my favorite sentences is “God takes care of us and He will provide what we need.” My rating for A Christmas by the Sea is 4 out of 5 stars. Melody Carlson has given us another lovely Christmas story filled with love, hope, faith, family and joy.
Every Christmas season I look forward to Melody Carlson's newest holiday book. It was a quick story (only 167 pages) but it was packed with emotion, family love, and second chances. Wendy and her son are struggling financially after her husband died several years ago from cancer. Left with medical bills and student loans, finding out that she had inherited her grandparent's beach house seems like a true blessing. Heading to the small town of Seaside, Wendy plans on fixing it up the cottage and quickly selling it and moving back to Ohio. What she doesn't plan on is that her son Jackson will fall in love with the cottage, the town and the people. A friendly and slobbery dog rounds out the picture of the new home that Jackson is hoping will be theirs. With the help of local craftsman, Caleb, Wendy tries to make a living using her craft skills and shells she and Jackson find so she can remain in Seaside. When Jackson finds out that his mother wants to move back to Ohio, he does what an adolescent does, he tries to force his mother's hand. Will Wendy be able to financially support her small family with the crafts she makes or will she and her heartbroken son have to return to Ohio? This is a sweet story of family, second chances, independence and romance. What could be better than spending the holiday season in a gorgeous beach town that feels like home and the bonus of a new possible romance for Wendy. Can God answer their prayers to be able to start a new life in this small town that feels more like home than Ohio ever did. The story flows beautifully and is well paced. The characters in the story are all helpful in trying to get Wendy and Jackson to stay, all except for the pretty Crystal, who seems to have her own feelings for Caleb. This is a beautiful story about spiritual and personal growth. A magical Christmas story that can be read in a day by a warm fire. The publisher, Revell, provided me with a copy of this book to read. The rating, opinions and ideas are my own.
I really enjoyed the setting of this book. I could picture the town and it felt very Hallmark like. I did struggle with Wendy constantly going back and forth in her mind about telling her son the truth. If felt wrong and not what most parents would do. I also felt the ending was rushed and a bit to unrealistic. I didn’t buy it. This wasn’t my favorite Melody Carlson book, but it was a very quick read. A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. All opinions are my own.
Hooray! A new Christmas book from Melody Carlson! It has become a holiday tradition for me! I love them! Each one stirs up Christmas nostalgia and those warm feelings the season brings. Wendy is struggling financially after her husband’s death and trying to keep her life has she has known it afloat, not only for her but for her son Jackson. She can’t see past putting one foot in front of another and maintaining her job. She gets word she has inherited her grandparent’s beach cottage in Maine. Wendy sees it as a way to pay off her bills by fixing it up and selling it in the 3 weeks they are there. This will enable them to be home by Christmas. As she enters the little town that held so many happy childhood memories her emotions are in turmoil. Her 12 year old son has other plans. He wants a fresh start in a new place, as he has been miserable since his Dad’s death. The town isn’t as small and dead as it used to be. It has grown with new people and businesses. With each reminiscence, she wards off the tugs at her heart to love the town, house and people. She has blinders on envisioning their life in Ohio as the only way they can live. Jackson barrels ahead embracing every experience and moment, and appears to think they are moving there. Wendy, not wanting to burst his bubble, makes it harder on herself by not telling him the truth. His enthusiasm and joy draws her in. When we are adults and suffer tragedy, we cling to what is familiar, unable to realize new opportunities in front of us. Children’s eyes and hearts are clear to comprehend and embrace the joyfulness of new beginnings. I saw this in Wendy and Jackson. I can relate as after my husband died I too wanted to cling to what I had known, changes were frightening and sometimes still are. I have grown to realize that I cannot continue to in the life I had because a vital part of it is no longer there. Thank you Ms. Carlson for another wonderful and touching book to warm my heart! I received this book from Revell Publishing in exchange for an honest review. The opinions I have stated are my own.
I always enjoy reading a novella or two focused on Christmas time. Most are joyful, uplifting, sweet reads. Not too long--just right to immerse oneself in for a bit of relaxing reading, enjoying a good cup of tea or coffee.Author Melody Carlson has written several and doesn't disappoint. In A Christmas by the Sea we meet a single mom with a young teenage son. They have lost a beloved husband and father to the ravages of cancer and are trying to make it on their own. The story begins with them traveling to the coast of Maine to Wendy's grandparent's cottage home that has been left to Wendy as an inheritance. Her plan is to put it on the market and glean enough to pay her husband's medical bills and get on with the task of living. Her son, Jackson, is all excited and looking forward to a new beginning. He sees everything through the lens of excitement and newness. Jackson is truly a character to love and appreciate his outlook and his ability to step up to the multitude of tasks and chores that come with making the cottage marketable. Only Jackson doesn't realize Wendy is planning to sell. He wants to make it his forever home. Gracing the pages of this sweet story are several other characters that win the reader's heart. The chemistry that sparks interest in each other is slow to be acknowledged by Wendy and Caleb, a handsome merchant and resident. You don't want to miss this sweet read. Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy from Revell a division of Baker Publishing to facilitate this review. Opinions are my own and freely given.
Welcome to November in Maine, where widow Wendy Harper and her 12 year old son Jackson have inherited a tiny cottage on the shores of the Atlantic in a tiny town called Seaside where Wendy vacationed with her grandparents as a child. Wendy’s plan is to spruce up the cottage and put it on the market to help with the debt incurred during her husband’s battle with cancer but she knows doing so will break her son’s heart. I really enjoyed the beach atmosphere because it was so easy to imagine the sun on my face and the sand and water between my toes and I wanted to search for sea shells and sand dollars at low tide right along with the characters. I just wish the author had included another chapter about the romance between Wendy and town native, Caleb, which would have remedied what I felt was an abrupt ending to the story. I read an early copy of this book from Baker Publishing Group through NetGalley and all opinions expressed in my voluntary review are completely my own.
Another sweet Christmas read by Melody Carlson. I enjoyed seeing Wendy work with her son, Jackson, to restore the summer cottage that had belonged to her grandparents and where she had such fond memories. Caleb was a warm hearted, caring hero who cared a lot about both Wendy and Jackson. A very predictable ending which was a bit rushed just to wind up this novella as she had only know Caleb for two weeks, so this felt a bit unrealistic and financially unsound. Focus was God's provision. A sweet, quick read for a curl up in front of the fireplace on a cold day. **I received a complimentary copy of this book from Revell Publishing through NetGalley. Opinions are mine alone. I was not compensated for this review.
A Christmas by the Sea by Melody Carlson takes place in Seaside Maine. Wendy Harper is barely making ends meet after the death of her husband. Her grandfather has past away and has left his beach cottage to her. She takes her son to the cottage with plans to renovate it and sell it to help out her financial situation. Her son has different ideas, he wants to stay there to live. Her goal is to be done with the cottage by Christmas. This is a very touching story. I enjoyed reading how her son helped her so much. He definitely took on the helper role with the loss of his father. For being just 12 years old, he is very mature and responsible. I enjoyed reading the part that her grandfather did not let the cottage deteriorate, he did take care of the cottage so it just needed minor work. I also enjoyed reading of the memories Wendy had of the small town and it's community members. This is a great story to read to prepare for the Christmas season. I received a copy of this book from Revell Publishing. I have written an honest review.
Melody Carlson's latest Christmas novella is entitled A Christmas by the Sea. The main character is Wendy Harper. She has just received the surprise of her life: her grandfather has left her his cottage along the shores of Maine! Her son, Jackson, is ready to leave Ohio and start a new life in Maine; however, Wendy is simply hoping to sell the cottage, to pay of the debts left after her husband's death! You will see how hard Wendy and her son work to restore this cottage. Along the way, they meet a local furniture builder, Caleb Colton, who helps them settle into the lifestyle of this small, coastal town! While Wendy is filled with wonderful memories of her time with her grandparents and cannot deny the beauty of this place, she cannot see a way to financially support her son in a tourist town. Hold on to see what answer God places before her by the time you reach the final page! While the ending falls on you a little too quickly, this little book was worth the read!
A CHRISTMAS BY THE SEA is the 2018 Melody Carlson Christmas story we've all been waiting for. i absolutely love the cover of this novella and I want to rent the cottage for a vacation getaway myself. What a lovely place. I don't like that Wendy wasn't honest with her son from the beginning. If he was old enough to register himself in school, he was old enough to understand the trip was to get the cottage cleared out and listed on the real estate market. It would've saved a lot of drama. Caleb was a sweetheart, and so there for both Wendy and Jackson. Wendy was hurting, worried, and running scared but she still found ways to be kind to her neighbors, make friends, and do artsy crafty stuff. I greatly enjoyed this novella and look forward to reading it over again for Christmases to come. I was given a copy off netgalley. All opinions are my own.
Wendy and her son Jackson travel to Maine, where she’s inherited her grandparents cottage. Her plans are to get the cottage ready to sell and head back home to Ohio. Jackson’s plans are to convince his mom to stay in Seaside. The book weaves back and forth between the two, and new friends they make. A delightful story that is hard to put down. I loved everything about it and this author has become one who’s Christmas stories I look forward to. A complimentary copy of this book was provided by Baker Publishing Group/Revell through NetGalley. No review was required and all thoughts and opinions are my own.
This is a novella written about a thirtyish widow and her son. They have inherited a beach side cottage in the town of Seaside. The mom, Wendy, has full intentions of getting the cottage ready for sale and selling it. They have a lot of debt as her husband had been very sick with cancer before he passed away and Wendy feels she must have her corporate job in Ohio to make ends meet. Jackson, her son, loves the town and feels like he is being given a fresh start. And then, of course, there is the knight in shining armor, who also lives in the town. To be honest, I didn't realize this was supposed to be a novella until I sat down to write this review. That helps my feelings with this book, because one of my biggest issues is that the story was too short. To get from start to finish, everything moved along very fast and was focused too much, I thought, on the romantic end of it. The other thing that I didn't like about this book is it feels like I read it before. The story line just reminds me of another book I have read. I have no idea what that book was, who the author was, or anything, but the plot seemed so very similar. I actually checked to make sure this wasn't an older book I was rereading. I have read other Melody Carlson books and really liked them, so I have nothing against the author. Armando's Treasure is one I remember reading and thinking it was an excellent book. I just think for me, I didn't give it a fair chance as I don't really like novellas unless they are preludes to a series of regular length books. For sure, I need to know going into the reading of it that it's a novella. That I didn't know that is nobody's fault but my own. The writing style and structure of the book was well done. I read it as an ebook and often that makes me not like the book as well. I always think there are more typos and grammar issue in ebooks or that there can be, but I did not find that to be the case. It was a well written chick flick. And the next time I might exercise more caution in finding out if it's a full length book or not. I received this book from Revell and was not required to write a positive review.
Ms. Carlson provides another delightful story with this book. The setting is in Maine at Christmas. The book focuses on Wendy, a widow, and her son, Jackson. After inheriting a cottage on the beach in Maine, Wendy and Jackson travel for a few weeks to prepare the cottage to sale. Jackson would prefer to move there forever. Seaside is an enchanting town that really pulls at Wendy and Jackson. Together they make many friends and acquaintances including Caleb. This book is a delightful holiday story about the importance of family and friends and home being where the heart is. Ms. Carlson’s books are entertaining and refreshing. I highly recommend this book and know you will not be disappointed in the story. This is a Christian romantic story. ***I was given a free electronic copy of this book from the publisher. This is my honest opinion. Even though I received this copy free, this is my own opinion.
Melody Carlson has written over two hundred books among which are many Christmas stories. All of the ones I've read, including Christmas By the Sea, are sweet, encouraging holiday stories that would make wonderful Hallmark type Christmas movies. Wendy Harper and her son Jackson are headed to Maine to see the seaside cottage she often visited while growing up, the one she had inherited from her grandfather. While Jackson dreams of making a permanent move to Maine, Wendy must face the reality that selling the cottage is the only way to pay off the debts incurred during her husband's battle with cancer. While the characters are endearing, the ending is somewhat predictable, and in true Christmas movie tradition includes a rapidly progressing romance. The main theme of the story is trusting in God's provision. If you would like a sweet, quick read, this book fits the bill. I thank NetGalley and Revell for providing me with a copy of Christmas By the Sea in exchange for an honest review. I was under no obligation to provide a positive review, and received no monetary compensation.
A Christmas by the Sea is a warm Christmas story like we have come to expect from Melody Carlson. Wendy Harper and her twelve year old son, Jackson, has had a rough few years. Their husband and father died after a battle with cancer leaving the family with a strained financial situation. Jackson has had a hard time at school with bullying and teasing. When Wendy inherits her grandfather's beach house in Seaside, Maine, it seems an answer to their prayers. Wendy decides they can use the trip to get away for Thanksgiving to get the cottage in shape to sell. Jackson thinks that this is a great new start for them. So, they set out from Ohio and drove to Maine. Wendy struggles to keep finances above water while she works on the cottage. Jackson won't talk about leaving. Caleb Colton is a local furniture builder and store owner that gets to know Wendy and Jackson. He befriends them and gives advice to Wendy while hiring Jackson as a helper. Jackson quickly makes a friend, rescues a dog and even enrolls himself in school. He tells Wendy to have faith that God will work things out. But Wendy knows that Jackson is a child who doesn't understand the dire straits they are in financially. This is a heartwarming story of faith and family during the special holiday time of hope and joy. I received a complimentary ARC from Revell Publishing through NetGalley. The thoughts and opinion stated are mine only.