Christmas Joy: A Novel

Christmas Joy: A Novel

by Nancy Naigle
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Overview

Christmas Joy: A Novel by Nancy Naigle

From USA Today Bestselling author Nancy Naigle, Christmas Joy is a heartwarming Christmas story about family, friendship and finding love in unexpected places.

Joy Holbrook might be all work and no play, but that changes when her Aunt Ruby takes a fall that lands her in a rehabilitation center before the holidays. Joy takes a leave of absence from her job as a market researcher to run the family farm, even though the timing may hinder her chance at garnering the promotion of her dreams.

Ben Andrews isn’t your average accountant. He also happens to be the handiest man in Crystal Falls. He’s helped his elderly neighbor, Ruby Johnson, decorate for the annual Christmas Home Tour—and win—the last several years. He’s not about to let some drop-in niece break their winning streak.

Ruby seems overly concerned about Joy being able to handle Molly. Under the impression she’s referring Molly the bunny that is one of the menagerie of animals, Joy’s not worried at all until the next morning when a little girl named Molly shows up. For the sake of her aunt, Joy is forced to partner with Ben while Ruby is on the mend to help with preparation for the Christmas tour and, in the process finds her career-focused heart dreaming of a family.

Will the magic of Christmas help her to open her heart and find her everlasting joy?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781250106087
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 10/18/2016
Sold by: Macmillan
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 228,920
File size: 1 MB

About the Author

USA Today bestselling author NANCY NAIGLE whips up small-town love stories with a dash of suspense and a whole lot of heart. Now happily retired, she devotes her time to writing, antiquing, and the occasional spa day with friends. A native of Virginia Beach, she currently calls North Carolina home. Her books include Sweet Tea and Secrets, Mint Juleps and Justice, and Christmas Joy.

Read an Excerpt

Christmas Joy

A Novel


By Nancy Lee Naigle

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2016 Nancy Lee Naigle
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-250-10608-7


CHAPTER 1

How could two pint-sized kids whip my well-controlled focus group into a frenzy in a matter of mere seconds?

"Let's all be quiet and settle down." Joy Holbrook kept her voice steady, but her stomach was knotted. She felt more like a teacher than a market research executive this morning. And the fact that MacDonald-Webber gave every job a cutesy name didn't help. Her executive position over "all things Christmas" had been tagged Red Suit Blitzen Bunch Lead. She was darned if she'd ever put that on her résumé, but despite the ridiculous title, this job was a step up from and a pay increase over her position at the stuffy old-school competitor she used to work for.

Silly title aside, life always came down to trade-offs, and this session was beginning to rank near the top of the list of challenging ones. Hopefully her last trade-off if she landed that promotion to Director of Focus Groups. The misbehaving little girl did a pirouette and tapped her chubby hand on one of the other children's heads as if she were playing a Swan Lake version of Duck, Duck, Goose. Her brother swiped a candy bar off the table, then raced around the room so fast that his sneakers squeaked against the floor.

"Now," Joy said, leveling her gaze on the two towheaded terrors. "Please. Take a seat." If the Weather Channel was looking for tropical storm names, Joy had two to recommend.

Lola and Richard.

Otherwise known as the boss's kids.

Lola rolled her eyes as her brother skidded across the floor and into one of the chairs with a thunk. She hesitated, but finally followed Richard's lead and sat down in a huff.

Joy's insides vibrated as if a thousand angry bees had taken up residence within her. She was running important focus groups, not the corporate babysitting service.

How could Margie do this to me again? Breathe. Smile. Just a few more questions and we're done. Joy powered through the final points, not allowing a single second's pause for the children to deviate from the plan. With one last count of raised hands, she was done.

"You did great!" She applauded the children and they joined in, smiling. "Thank you for sharing with me today." Joy lifted the top from a silver foil-wrapped box that had served as the centerpiece on the table, revealing a cache of candy bars. Squeals of delight filled the room as most of the kids reached into the box. No surprise, Richard grabbed another candy bar in each hand and even stuffed one into his pocket.

"My mom says candy bars make you fat," said a tiny redheaded girl.

Of all the kids at the table, she looked like she needed a candy bar the most. The little girl with the strawberry curls that tumbled wildly across her forehead, much like Joy's, had been the best-behaved child in the group. "Maybe your daddy would like one," Joy whispered quietly.

The little girl's bright blue eyes danced. "Thank you!" She pressed her finger to her lips, carefully deciding which one to select.

Most of the children had already unwrapped and begun to chomp on their treats.

Joy transferred the last data to her moderator's guide, then signaled for Renee to herd the little ones back out to their parents.

"You can come with me now," Renee said from the doorway. Chairs slid across the tile floor, sounding like an out-of-tune tuba followed by the crinkling of candy bar wrappers as the kids scampered toward the door on a sugar high.

Renee tipped her head toward Lola and Richard. "Sorry," she mouthed to Joy as she led the kids out of the room.

Joy shook her head. Poor Renee. Her chestnut hair, usually hanging long down her back, had been pulled into a knot with her pencil stuck through it — a sign that Renee was stressed, and, boy, did Joy know how that felt.

Joy's jaw ached from clenching her teeth so tightly. She stacked her things, trying not to lose her composure in front of whoever might be lingering in the observation room, where her team had been collecting data from the session. Her reflection in the two-way glass revealed a composed professional woman wearing a suit and heels, but underneath that guise, she felt ready to put a blitz on her own boss for another near mishap that had almost ruined her research. Was Margie that clueless, or was she out to sabotage her? Joy was really beginning to wonder.

A few moments later, Renee rushed back into the room. "I tried to tell Margie that we'd already checked everyone in. She just wouldn't take no for an answer." She spoke in a hushed whisper, glancing toward the mirrored wall, then grabbed a roll of paper towels and a spray bottle from a cabinet next to the table. "When I didn't get out of my chair, she just took them into the focus group herself!"

Testing holiday packaging for the nation's leading candy manufacturer, and one of MacDonald-Webber's biggest clients, was usually a quick process, but Joy's team had run into a few challenges. Not because there was a problem with the packaging. This time it was more of an internal problem. A Margie problem.

"It's not your fault." Joy turned her back to the mirrored glass. "I know how pushy Margie can be. And her kids are out of control. I'm just not used to that. It's days like this that make me thank goodness I never had children." She grimaced at how harshly that had come out. "No offense."

"None taken. My girls would never carry on like that. In public, anyway." Renee laughed. "All kids get a little wild now and then, but even at their worst, they are the best thing in life."

"I'm going to have to just take your word for that," Joy said, because after the past year of leading all the market research analytics completed by the Red Suit Blitzen Bunch for the under-twelve demographic, parenting wasn't something she could see herself signing up for.

Renee blasted a stream of cleaner across the surface of the chocolate-smudged table.

The smell of bleach replaced the sugary scent in the air. Joy pulled an arm's length of paper towels off the roll. With all the vigor of a gambler with a scratch-off ticket, Joy scrubbed away the last remains of the rough morning.

"At least it's done. Come on. Let's get out of here." Joy picked up her paperwork from the session and headed out the door with Renee right behind her.

Joy held her temper until she and Renee got into the elevator and the doors slid shut. "Margie has got some nerve." Joy hugged her paperwork to her chest. "If she hadn't done the same thing last week, we'd already have been finished. What is wrong with her?"

"She's clueless. Rumor has it she's the sister-in-law of one of the Webbers," Renee said, leaning against the wall of the elevator.

At least that would make sense. "I tried to politely explain that she was compromising the research the last time this happened. She either doesn't understand, or doesn't care. I'm not sure which is worse."

Joy wouldn't vent like this to just anyone, but she and Renee had become close over the past year. "We've finally got all the demographics covered for this test now. We'll deliver on time and on budget, despite Margie's interference."

"I was so worried her brats were going to ruin it."

Joy had been too. "We deserve a long lunch after that. Let's make it an early one. What do you say?"

"I'm so in." Renee tugged the pencil from her hair and let out a sigh.

The elevator doors opened on the eleventh floor. From here you could see the heart of D.C. MacDonald-Webber held office and meeting space on three floors of this building in the business district of the capital city. When Joy left Sonic Group in beautiful Northern Virginia to come to MacDonald-Webber, giving up her office with the view had been the hardest part.

Renee followed Joy through the maze of tall-walled cubes.

Joy placed her paperwork on the desk in her cubicle. The Christmas shopping list she'd started just yesterday during the back-to-back conference calls was covered in red and green Christmas doodles. She ripped the list from the notepad and showed it to Renee.

"At least my holiday list looks festive, even if I don't feel that way," Joy said. "We're down to just weeks before Christmas, and I haven't even begun to shop."

"An occupational hazard," Renee said. "A person can look at wrapped presents, new holiday products, and Santas dressed in every color of the rainbow for only so long and stay in the spirit."

Joy tucked the list in her purse. Her spirit had definitely dwindled. "I've been focused on this red and green holiday for the sake of market research for nearly sixteen months straight." She dropped into her chair, trying to push aside the aftermath of Lola and Richard's surprise appearance. "About six months too long to stay sane," she responded with a sigh. "We'd better change the subject."

"Fair enough. A friend of mine just took a job over at Sonic Group. Isn't that where you used to work?"

"Yes. For five years." Joy still missed her office with the view of lush, green Northern Virginia.

"She loves it there. Their offices sound amazing," Renee said with a lift of her brow.

"True, but they don't get the high-visibility work we get here. It's a tradeoff." Hopefully a good one. Joy had nailed the interviews for the new director position at MacDonald-Webber. She envisioned a big red bow on the door of the vacant office across the way — the one with the street view and access to the private outdoor terrace. She could totally see it. ...


JOY HOLBROOK

Director of Focus Groups

Her name in block print letters on the frosted glass door. And the best part — her calendar filled with a nice balance of campaigns to manage, not just holiday-focused assignments, and she could get that stupid "Red Suit Blitzen Bunch" off her business cards. That would make for a Merry Christmas, indeed.

"Guess we have to take the good with the bad. Walls would be nice, though," Renee said, leaning on the edge of Joy's desk.

"Knock, knock." Margie Stokes's voice was a little too loud under regular circumstances, but for some reason when she did that singsongy "knock, knock," it made Joy grind her teeth.

Joy and Renee exchanged a subtle knowing glance.

"What brings you by?" Joy forced a smile, camouflaging her anger until she could find a polite way to address the sore subject of Margie dropping off her kids in Joy's focus group again.

"That little focus group this morning was over in a jiffy. Richard and Lola had so much fun. Didn't it work out perfectly that I happened to have them here with me?"

No time like the present. "Well, actually, Margie, we'd already recruited for that session. It was a bit of a problem."

There was a momentary flash of annoyance in Margie's expression. "What's a couple extra opinions? It's fine."

Joy held her tongue. If she let loose now, it wouldn't be good for anyone. Maybe the best part about the possible promotion wasn't the office with the view after all, but that she wouldn't report to Margie any longer.

Margie tugged on her bright pink suit jacket. The Chanel-like chains and pearls embellishing the pockets might look cute on a twentysomething girl, but on middle-aged Margie, they came across as a failed attempt to keep up with the younger crowd.

Margie fanned out a handful of glossy red and green tickets. "I knew you wouldn't want to miss out on Richard and Lola's Christmas pageant the week after next. I saved you the best tickets in the house — right next to me."

Margie was nearly sharkish about her approach to these things. Swimming in quietly. Cornering her prey. And with the seats right next to her, you couldn't even not show up. All she lacked was the ominous musical accompaniment.

Renee's lips pulled into a tight line. "I'm going to go get those reports."

"But don't you want —?" Margie spun and wedged herself between Renee and the opening to the cubicle.

"Oh no. I've got a family commitment. This time of year is so busy," Renee said, squeezing between Margie and the cubicle wall. "I'll check back later, Joy."

And there Joy sat. Captive.

"My Lola is the lead." Margie waved the tickets around like they'd grant admission to the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center. But they were for her kids' Christmas pageant, and Joy wasn't interested. She'd seen enough of Margie's wicked little wackadoodles this morning to last her a year.

"You must be so proud." Visions of Richard with chocolate smeared across his cheeks like a sugar-crazed Rambo flashed in Joy's mind.

Margie rattled on. "I had to practically force that new teacher to cast Lola in the lead. For heaven's sake, that woman was going to put her in the role of a tree. Can you imagine? My Lola. Standing there wrapped in burlap like a wooden trunk, holding felt leaves. No, ma'am." She rolled her eyes and blew out a breath that had her hair-sprayed-stiff bangs flying up, then settling all catawampus.

Margie's irritating eye roll — similar to Lola's — stabbed at Joy's sanity.

"There's so much going on —"

Margie narrowed her eyes. "It's a fund-raiser." Her words were clipped, almost curt; then Margie plastered a too-white smile on her face. "'Tis the season, and all that. I'll put you down to buy two. They're only a hundred apiece. I knew I could count on you."

Lucky me. "Great." Joy regretted ever pretending to be impressed by Margie's kids to establish common ground with her boss. It wasn't that Joy disliked children, but she was an only child herself and she'd known little to nothing about the under-twelve demographic before getting the dreaded Red Suit Blitzen Bunch assignment. Mom had always said that lies never paid off, and, boy, did Margie's Richard and Lola plucking Joy's every last nerve prove Mom right.

Margie counted out two tickets, but just before handing them over, she snapped her fingers. "I almost forgot. I need you to cover my meeting at Wetherton's this afternoon."

Joy's throat went dry. "At Wetherton's? The executive offices?" She'd led the Santa @ W event last year and had been invited to only one meeting at the flagship store. This was a big deal — her chance to really shine in front of MacDonald-Webber's biggest client. Hope filled her hammering heart.

"Yes. Just a quick update. Nothing fancy. I can't go. I have to take Lola to rehearsal."

Maybe good karma is making up for the debacle this morning. "Of course, I'll be happy to cover for you. What time?"

"You'll have to get a move on. They wanted me there around one o'clock." She twisted her wrist and checked her watch. "I meant to mention it earlier."

Joy could probably get there in a single bound on the energy coursing through her right now. Is it possible this is some kind of test before the final decision on the promotion? "I'm on it. I've got everything right here."

"Great. I knew you could handle it." Margie handed the tickets to Joy.

The purchase of the tickets was a little easier to bear now. "Wouldn't miss it." Another lie. Wonder what the penance for that one will be?

CHAPTER 2

Ben Andrews parked his dark blue 4WD pickup in front of Mars Hardware on Main Street. Snippets of Christmas carols collided in an offbeat but beautiful noise from the neighboring stores as customers opened and closed their doors. From the looks of the hustle and bustle, business was booming in Crystal Falls.

Ben dropped the tailgate of his truck and dragged the scaffold ladder from the bed. He hoisted it over his shoulder, taking the time to check out the front window of Mars Hardware, which had been empty just yesterday.

Jason, the owner of the hardware store, had already been hard at work this morning. A wintry scene showcased a Mr. Snowman made from five-gallon paint buckets with blue spigot handles for eyes, holding the gloved hand of a snow kid who'd been fashioned out of regular paint cans with a red bucket turned upside down as a hat. Mrs. Snowman stood next to a Christmas tree as if decorating it while she watched the boys play nearby in the snowy backdrop. The tree was the same one Jason had created last year — made from hand-tied nuts, bolts, and all kinds of shiny gadgets into twenty-four six-foot lengths of hardware garland swept out to form the shape of a shiny metallic tree. A huge bow made of drywall tape spray-painted Carolina chrome graced the top.

Ben edged closer to the window, trying to figure out what Jason had used to create the snowy substrate beneath the snowman.

Popcorn? Well, not edible popcorn. Ceiling spray texture used to touch up those old popcorn ceilings. Genius. It really does look like snow, and it probably didn't take two bags to fill the whole window. A twenty-buck solution.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Christmas Joy by Nancy Lee Naigle. Copyright © 2016 Nancy Lee Naigle. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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.

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Christmas Joy 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 12 reviews.
CathyGeha More than 1 year ago
If you are looking for a sweet Christmas romance that has a happy ending then this book might be one you will enjoy. Joy Holbrook has put her job and success ahead of everything so when a phone call comes through saying her aunt has broken her ankle it is a bit surprising she puts everything on hold to go take care of her Aunt Ruby’s farm. She finds herself being swept into the holiday spirit of the town and in charge of more than she thought she expected but meets interesting people and spends time reassessing her wants and needs as the pages fly by. Ben Andrews is the small town accountant who loves his life in Crystal Falls and small town living. He also is into Christmas and helping others. This is a fun quick rather predictable story but relaxing and enjoyable, too. Thank you to Net Galley and St. Martin’s Press for the ARC. This is my honest review.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
I'm a sucker for small town romances and Nancy Naigle writes some of the best around. Christmas Joy is no exception! Hilarious quirky characters make this a fun and memorable read. You would think someone named Joy would be full of holiday cheer. That's not the case for Joy Holbrook. She's all work, all the time. This year though she finds herself back in Crystal Falls helping out her aunt Ruby after Ruby takes a fall and ends up in a rehab center. She's worried about her job and the promotion she wanted but she can't say no to the aunt who was there for her when she needed her. Ben Andrews may be an accountant by day but he is the towns golden boy and definitely a favorite of aunt Ruby's. Ben has been helping decorate for the holiday contest for years and he's not about to let her down this year. That means spending a lot of time around Joy. Could be fun if he could get her to relax a little! Joy and Ben are quite a pair add in the adorable little girl Molly and the feeling of family has Joy rethinking some of her life choices. This was a great read and one that will get you into the holiday mood. I highly recommend it.
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
Nancy Naigle is not an author I read on a regular basis. So when I get the chance to do so, I consider it a treat. With lives moving at a fast pace, it's always nice to find that moment to unwind. For me reading is my relaxation. I received a copy of Christmas Joy in exchange for an honest review. Reminiscent of a simpler time, the citizens of Crystal Falls welcomed me with open arms and shared abundantly the fruits of their knowledge. Small town stories are a weakness for me because I feel like a part of the family. Love is the driving force behind every smile and outsiders may be wary at first but tend to stay a while. Christmas Joy is about appreciating the people you love and experiencing the surprises life throws your way. Ms. Naigle proves that less is more. A novel can still enrich the mind and stir the senses with less sex and more TLC.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Got me thinking of Christmas cookies and good memories !
Bookaholic_Cindy More than 1 year ago
Christmas Joy is a sweet book to read at the holidays. Of course, it's a bit predictable, after all, we can't have a sad Christmas book. So you know it will have a happily ever after ending. Which for me, felt like the last few pages were kind of a quick ending. I did like the Christmas spirit throughout the book. Enjoyed imagining what the decorations in the house and throughout the town looked like! There were a few times when I felt as if we had rerun the cookie baking too much and I lost interest. But then the author would perk up things and my interest returned. Overall, it's an enjoyable romance set at Christmas. * I was provided an ARC from the publisher and NetGalley.
Karen-M More than 1 year ago
Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! This is the book for this time of year. I love reading a Christmas themed book with a little romance, a little holiday magic and a good solid story line. You have Joy, the independent city girl returning to the small town due to an unexpected and worrisome family emergency who literally runs into the local guy. Ben, the local guy with a bad first marriage behind him who is really not looking for a girl anything like his ex or this independent female from DC but then again she’s only here for a few weeks, what could happen? I loved all the characters but especially Aunt Ruby and little Molly. You have to love the feisty aunt who tries to play match maker from a hospital bed and the little girl who reminds us Christmas can be magical. If you’re in a Christmas kind of mood or would like to be, read this book.
DebDiem More than 1 year ago
Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle is a great holiday read. Ms Naigle has gifted us with a clean and sweet Christmas story that is well written and peppered with awesome, lovable characters. This book can be read by any age group. Joy and Ben's story is a fun read seeing Joy turn from an almost scrooge to finding joy in the holiday. There is plenty of drama and humor to hold a reader's attention. I enjoyed reading Christmas Joy and look forward to reading more from Nancy Naigle in the future. This is a complete book, not a cliff-hanger. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book that I received from NetGalley. I also won a copy of this from Goodreads.
AMR0406 More than 1 year ago
Christmas Joy by Nancy Naigle is a heartwarming contemporary romance story that helps all of us remember what is truly important in life. Many of us get so caught up in our jobs and busy lives that we forget to take the time to spend time with family and friends. Some of us are also guilty of thinking we can handle everything on our own, when in fact sometimes we can't and other times when we can, we don't have to. Joy is a single woman focusing on her career when she is called down by her aunt Ruby's best friend after Ruby falls and breaks her ankle. During the time that Joy is visiting and helping her aunt out while she is in rehab, she meets Ben and Molly. These are two people that change her life. Naigle does a very good job at writing stories involving some sort of tragedy that the main character has to overcome or learn how to live with in some manner. In this story, Joy had some unresolved feelings about Christmas and Crystal Falls based on losing her mother years earlier. I enjoyed the way those around her helped her see things differently and to finally live the life she wanted. If you are looking for a Christmas story filled with love, family, friends and one that just makes you all warm and fuzzy when it's over, give Christmas Joy a read.
heathercm2001 More than 1 year ago
Nancy Naigle is an expert when it comes to making me feel right at home in one of her novels. Add in some Christmas spirit, and I was in heaven. For me, Christmas Joy was like the extra warm fuzzy blankets that I bring out and curl up under when it gets cold outside. It was comforting and cozy. I loved getting lost in Ben and Joy's story and the beautiful town of Crystal Falls. I laughed with them, cried with them, and was moved by all the heart-melting moments. I can't even begin to tell you how sweet and perfect Ben was. I don't think I've ever had anything make me crave Christmas more than this book did, and that includes Hallmark movies. I will probably have my tree up by the end of the week, and maybe I'll just leave it up all year long. I received a complimentary copy of this book.
SourPussReviews More than 1 year ago
4 out of 5 Stars! Would definitely recommend! NetGALLEY describes Nancy Naigle’s Christmas story of love like this: A heartwarming Christmas story about family, friendship and finding love in unexpected places. Joy, this lovely story’s protagonist, is, at first, a great role-model for women everywhere. She has focused intently on her career, and is on the brink of an important promotion. This is where the story takes off. I might have appreciated Joy’s determination at first, but then she got down-right on my nerves. Rude, obnoxious, rude, stubborn, rude. Taking a pig-headed stance that she could accomplish on her own what normally took a small herd of people, I came to truly dislike this character. Having said that, the other characters are delightful, and I really enjoyed their stories. And to be honest, after outright hating Joy, I turned around and let Christmas Joy back into my heart. Though I had a little bit of trouble with the timelines, I forgave Nancy Naigle, and let myself just go with the story. As a holiday read, this was a lovely story of forgiveness, priorities in life, and the importance of family. I would purchase this for myself, and certainly gift it to others, especially those close to me, for the Christmas season.
sbart84 More than 1 year ago
The must read for the Christmas season. Small town romance at it's best. Joy has everything in her life, at least she thinks she does, in the up and coming corporate world until her aunt falls and needs her help back home. Joy returns home to Crystal Falls and helps with the Christmas preparation , when she meets Ben. Ben is very contented in the small town of Crystal Falls with it's quirkiness. Is it fate or destiny that brought Joy and Ben together. Add in the little girl, Molly and this makes the perfect read. I loved this book , you would think the name Joy would be all about Christmas, not so until she returns to Crystal Falls. Decorating, making cookies and spending time with Ben changes her views. This would be the perfect Hallmark movie. I received a copy of this book from netgally for an honest review.
GratefulGrandma More than 1 year ago
A great Christmas Romance! Joy works in marketing in Washington, D.C.. She is on her way up the corporate ladder, but does not have much of a life outside of work. When she gets a call telling her that her Aunt Ruby has fallen and broken her leg, she drops everything, and heads off to Crystal Falls. She assumes that she will take the weekend, get Aunt Ruby settled and be back to work by Tuesday. Unfortunately, nothing goes according to plan. Aunt Ruby's broken leg required pins to put it back together again and she needs a long rehabilitation period in a rehab centre. Joy settles into her aunt’s farmhouse, where she discovers she is now responsible for Molly, a sweet neighbour girl who Aunt Ruby helps take care of, feeding a menagerie as well as having to bake and decorate the house for the Christmas Cookie Tour. Ruby tells her not be concerned, "Handy Andy" will be able to help her with the decorations. Joy decides to get in the spirit. She can put up a few Christmas decorations, bake some cookies, serve some beverages and entertain the townsfolk, how hard could it be? Well, Ben (Handy Andy) seems to think Joy needs a little help because this contest is much more than hanging up a few Christmas lights. This is a BIG deal to her Aunt Ruby and Ben is very serious about making sure things are done right, for Ruby’s sake. It is also his grandmother's (Ruby's best friend's) event so he has to keep her happy as well. Unfortunately, Joy and Ben don’t get off on the right foot and Ben doesn’t seem too impressed with Joy, and her big city attitude. Joy thinks Ben is a small town accountant who does not know anything, especially her. As we learn more about Joy and why her Christmas attitude has not been the best, you can't help but love her. As she spends more time with Molly and Ben, experiencing the love and the sense of community she has found in Crystal Falls, the more unsure she feels about the priorities she has set for herself. I loved the way the characters were portrayed. Both Joy and Ben have been hurt in the past and we come to know their stories. They both grow emotionally in this story and it is wonderful to see. Ruby is a great character. She is strong, opinionated, has a great sense of humour, is loving and loyal and holds the story together. Molly is an adorable six year old who has already had a rough life and needs lots of TLC. This is a Christmas romance so of course, there will be a happy ending, but how they get there is well crafted and interesting. There is just the right amount of small town charm, romance, holiday cheer, and humour. The message is simple, but one many of us need to hear. Balance in our lives is always important, but we tend to think more about it at holidays. After reading this story, you may start your Christmas baking and shopping earlier than you thought and your Christmas decorations may be put up with carols playing in the background, but remember to do it with someone you love. Merry Christmas Everyone!! The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.