After fleeing her beloved small town five years ago, Julia Bailey is back to spend Christmas with her family. Returning is hard, but keeping the devastating secret about her late husband is even harder. Her place isn't in Big Sky Country any longer...but the more time she spends with the irresistible Sheriff who saved her once before, and his adorable little daughter, the more Julia starts wishing she could let go of the past and start a new life.
Single dad and county Sheriff Chase Donovan had been secretly in love with his best friend's wife for years. But after her traumatic loss he knew Julia needed to get away from Shadow Creek, even though helping her leave was the last thing he wanted to do. Now she's home and he doesn't intend to lose her a second time. Chase is going to prove to Julia just how good they can be together this Christmas...and forever.
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Christmas with the Sheriff
By Victoria James, Alethea Spiridon
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Victoria James
All rights reserved.
Five years later
Julia took a deep breath, shutting off her ignition and headlights as she stared at the red-brick Georgian home. Her mother-in-law had loved the Georgian architecture that she had grown up with from her childhood back east, and they'd had the home custom built years ago. Even though it wasn't typical in their rural area of Montana, the home was lovely. It hadn't changed at all. Stately, with black shutters and double-hung windows, and a matching black door, the house beckoned. A large, round boxwood wreath with a red ribbon adorned the front door. The front hall light glowed through the arched transom window, and Julia could still picture the delicate crystal chandelier inside. Towering ponderosa pines flanked the driveway, the tips of the branches almost forming an arch. Snow lined each limb, as though they had been meticulously painted on, one by one.
Five years. It had been five years since she had visited her in-laws. She owed them a visit much earlier. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back. She should have come when her father-in-law had been diagnosed with prostate cancer, but she hadn't. By that time she'd uncovered the disturbing truth about Michael and she couldn't deal with coming back here and facing all of them. But Shadow Creek had also been her home, and these people were her family.
She opened her eyes again and gave a little nod. Well, she was here now for Christmas. She wrapped her hands around the leather handle of her small tote and clutched her purse. The crisp, cold winter air greeted her as she stepped outside her car, cooling her flushed face. It smelled the same — fresh, pure. There was nowhere in the world that smelled like Montana. The driveway and walkway had been shoveled and salted, and her boots crunched against the large granules.
Warmth spread through her body as the front door opened even before she'd made it to the front porch. She clamped down hard on her back teeth in an attempt to rein in the tears as Cassandra and Edward appeared.
"My dear, you are here!" Cassandra Bailey called out, the break in her voice audible.
She dashed up the walkway and steps, outrunning the memories of all the times she'd been here with Michael and Matthew. She ran into the arms of the people that had treated her like their own from day one.
Comfort, the kind that could only be offered from a mother, enveloped her. She held on, squeezing Cassandra, restoring the bond they'd had between them. Edward folded her into his arms, and he kissed the top of her head gently before releasing her.
She had come home.
Edward Bailey gently ushered her through the doorway. "Come in, come in."
Julia noticed the lines around their eyes had deepened, and creases that weren't there years ago had claimed their residence. Edward was still tall with a slightly rounded stomach and maintained his aura of dignity. Cassandra, always thin, had now put on weight, making her seem even more maternal.
They each held on to one of her hands and she looked around the entryway. The deep sage colored walls with the crisp white wainscoting were exactly as she remembered; the grand staircase with its dark wood banister had been dressed for the season with fresh cedar roping and luxurious velvet ribbons.
"Cassy, you still have the nicest Christmas decorations I've ever seen," Julia said, squeezing her hand.
"Julia, is that you?" Her sister-in-law Gwen walked down the corridor, drying her hands on a dishtowel. A brown, medium-sized dog bounded past her and up to Julia. Julia laughed as she looked down into the eager face.
Gwen nudged the dog aside gently by her pink collar. "This is Lola. Don't even ask about that name," she said with a frown before wrapping Julia up in a big hug.
Lola nudged Julia a few times until they broke off the hug and she patted the dog's fluffy head. "You are so cute, Lola." The dog, as if agreeing, tilted her head to the side before giving her hand a lick. "I had no idea you had a dog now."
Edward chuckled. "She's Gwen's. We didn't want a dog but she twisted our arm."
Gwen frowned at him. "I read about dogs and how beneficial they are especially when people are sick."
"Well, there are no sick people around here," Edward said with a shake of his gray head. "Now enough of this standing in the hallway like some stranger. Come in the kitchen. You ladies can do all that hugging once we've had a piece of that pie." He ushered them all down the hallway. Lola trotted dutifully along behind him.
Gwen whispered to Julia as they walked, "He says she's my dog, but those two became the best of friends. She even went to each treatment Dad had at the hospital."
"She watched over him every day when we'd come back too." Cassy inhaled sharply and plunked her hands on her wide hips as they stood in the doorway of the kitchen. Edward had a knife in his hand and was ready to slice into the pie on the kitchen counter.
"Edward Bailey, put down the knife."
Edward sighed and did exactly as his wife told him, though a few grumbles did escape his mouth.
Julia laughed. "I'm glad to see your appreciation for pie hasn't changed."
"It's gotten worse," Cassy said, marching over and snatching up the knife. "Dr. Hart says he needs to watch how many sweets he eats."
"Well, it's the holiday season and it's not every day a man's favorite daughter-in-law comes home," he said with a wink. His weathered face crinkled slightly as he chuckled and settled himself at the head of the table. Lola rested at his feet. Edward patted the place setting beside him and waved Julia over.
"I can see how it would be hard to resist. It smells so good in here," Julia said, settling in beside him. The long, black farmhouse table was set with quilted, holly and berry placemats and a bright red poinsettia sat in the middle. The country kitchen was toasty, the granite counters filled with canisters of flour and sugar and mixing bowls. They had all changed, but this house was exactly the same.
"I just pulled apple pie and cranberry muffins out of the oven," Gwen said, flashing a smile as she arranged the muffins on a red Santa plate.
Cassandra poured coffee into matching Santa mugs and walked them over to the table.
"Can I help?" Julia asked, rising. Five years ago she would have been busy keeping Matthew away from the sweets until they were ready. She could think about that now without crying, if she didn't think about it too long.
"Not at all. You've had a long drive, and we want you to sit and relax. You're home, my dear, back in Shadow Creek," Cassandra said, pausing in the middle of the kitchen. Her faded blue eyes shone with emotion and Julia swallowed past the lump in her throat as she smiled at her mother-in-law.
"We've missed you," Edward said, leaning forward and patting her hand. She placed hers atop his, cherishing the warmth from his large, leathery hand. "Cassy couldn't sleep all night. Kept tossing and turning, she was so excited."
Cassandra handed them their mugs of coffee. "Oh I wasn't the only one! How many times did you ask what time she was supposed to arrive today?"
Edward chuckled and Julia basked in their company. She was ready for this now.
"You have all been on my mind and there hasn't been a day where I haven't thought of you. Edward, I owe you an apology for not being here this past year."
"Nonsense. We all did what we had to. We mourn in our own way and none of us begrudge you that. We're happy you're here now. I'm fine. I'm a tough old goat. It's going to take a hell of a lot more than cancer to kick my old butt."
Julia smiled at him. "I'm glad to hear that."
"And how are your parents doing, dear?"
"They're doing really well. Off to visit my mom's sister on the East Coast. They haven't been out there, since ... since I went back to live in the city. But when I told them I was coming here this year, I twisted their arms to go." The last few years her parents had been by her side constantly. Julia insisted that this year they get their lives back and do all the things they'd put on hold for five years. She knew they'd agree when they heard she was going back to Shadow Creek.
Cassandra smiled, sitting down. "Oh, that's good. I'm glad your mom is going to see her sister. It looks like we might have another Christmas visitor."
Cassandra smiled. "Jack."
Julia gasped and tears filled her eyes automatically. Jack. Michael's twin brother. She hadn't been the only one who'd run from Shadow Creek after the accident. Jack had taken off, without warning, leaving only a note saying good-bye. He called and he wrote, but he hadn't been home since.
Edward stared out the French doors into the back yard. White twinkling lights were wrapped around the deck railing. "About time that boy came home."
Gwen groaned, sitting down at the table across from her. "I didn't say he was coming home for sure. All I said was that I tried."
Edward reached down to pat Lola's head. "He will. I feel it."
Julia watched as he took a sip of his coffee. Jack and Michael had been connected in a way that none of them could truly understand. They were different and the same. Twins. Best friends. Michael's death had ripped him apart. As it had all of them. She would never tell them about Michael. It would only add new wounds.
Cassandra smiled, Julia giving her smile extra vivacity. "We can only pray, Julia. Now, why don't we dig into some of this delicious pie and then you can get all settled in the guest room, dear."
"Thanks, Cassandra," she whispered, taking a long sip of the velvety coffee. She wrapped her hands around the mug and settled into the black ladder-back chair, trying to look at ease.
"Tell me what you think of that pie. No holding back, I can take it," Gwen said, leaning forward.
Julia sliced through the flaky crust with her fork and lifted the pie to her lips. "You always were the best baker." She closed her eyes for a moment and was greeted with a jolt of warm apples and cinnamon. "Omigod, good."
Gwen tucked a shiny strand of brown hair behind her ear and then smiled, leaning forward. "Lily and I are finally ready to open our chocolate shop."
Julia sucked in a breath. "Oh, I'm so happy for you!"
"We're very proud of Gwen. She's been saving and working like crazy to make this a reality," Edward said, winking at his daughter. "Lily too. The two of them deserve it."
Julia clutched the mug of coffee closer to her as she thought of Lily. When Jack had skipped town, it wasn't just his family he'd abandoned. Lily had been his fiancée, the woman they all knew he would one day marry. "How's Lily doing?"
Gwen frowned, stabbing her piece of pie a little too forcefully, apples oozing out of the sides. "She's okay. Now. But it took her a while. And if my big brother does come home this Christmas, he'll have a hell of a lot of apologizing to do."
"I don't want to hear any of that," Cassy whispered, clutching her hands to the side of the table and leaning forward. "If my boy comes home this Christmas, we are all going to welcome him, hug him and —"
"I know, Mom. I want him home too. I can still be hurt for him leaving us and for ditching Lily. But, of course I want Jack home," Gwen said, resting her fork on the table, the pie never reaching her lips.
"Hello," a deep voice, an unmistakeable voice, boomed from the entrance and barrelled into her memories. The voice was followed by fast little footsteps. Lola stood and ran toward the guests. Julia looked first at the little girl she had only seen in pictures for the last five years. Then she looked up at the man that had remained in her thoughts every day since she left Shadow Creek.
Chase Donovan filled the kitchen doorway and every square inch of her mind.
A familiar, comforting, hot-chocolatey warmth billowed over her as his gaze landed on her. Waves of memories lapped in, one by one until her mind was flooded with Chase. He had saved her, repeatedly in the month following Michael and Matthew's death. Chase, with his inky black hair and midnight blue eyes was even more handsome than when she'd first met him. All soft lines were replaced with beautiful angles and hollows. His features were clearly defined; the planes of his strong jaw contrasting with a surprisingly sensual mouth. It was almost unexpected, the only soft spot on his otherwise masculine face. The long, thin scar below his ear and down his jaw was the only flaw on an otherwise impossibly beautiful face. He was tall, and built like a man who knew how to fight. But Chase had only ever shown her tenderness. He'd always been a man who had the ability to make women's pulses beat faster and their hearts swell with hope.
"Good to see you, Julia," he said gruffly.
She stood, wondering why now it felt so awkward. She had cried on his shoulder what must have been hundreds of times. He'd held her in his arms. He'd carried her away from her darkest thoughts on her darkest days. And yet now, five years later, she hesitated a few seconds before rounding the table and then into his arms. He folded her up against his hard chest, and the weight of his arms around her sheltered her like no one else could.
"I'm so damn happy you came home for Christmas," he whispered against her hair, and the raw emotion in his deep voice rapped quietly against all the closed doors inside her soul.
There was a tug on her sweater. "Auntie Julia, it's me, Maggie!"
Julia stepped away from Chase and looked down at the little girl who looked very much like her daddy. She knelt down to give the little girl a big hug, her heart swelling as Maggie's small arms wrapped around her neck. Julia pulled back to look at her.
"You have grown so much! You're so much bigger than last year's Christmas card!"
Maggie nodded rapidly. "It's true, I'm growing up! I'm going to be as tall as Daddy."
Chase chuckled, ruffling the top of her shiny head with his hand.
"I'm in grade two now," Maggie continued, her eyes glued to Julia's. Matthew would have been in grade two as well. Chase's wife had gotten pregnant with Maggie a few months after Julia. Julia smiled at the little girl, silencing the voices of her memories. She had prepared herself for seeing Maggie again. It had taken a long time to be able to look at a child without wanting to curl back inside herself. But Maggie was different. Julia sensed everyone watching her, worried that seeing Maggie would sadden her.
She straightened up and smiled down at her. "And how's grade two going?"
"Tough. There's homework and stuff."
"Maggie, I saved you a piece of pie," Gwen called, placing a plate of pie and a glass of milk on the kitchen table. Maggie skipped over to the chair beside Gwen and sat down. "Thanks, Auntie Gwen."
"She inherited my sweet tooth," Chase said, shooting her a lopsided grin as they settled back into their chairs.
Cassandra passed Chase a plate filled with pie and a cup of coffee. "Thanks, Cassy, this is just what I needed."
She patted his shoulder before sitting down.
"You better eat all that pie, Julia," Cassandra said, wagging her fork at her. "You've gotten far too thin."
She felt Chase's eyes on her and she looked down at her plate. The weird, fluttery feeling in her stomach had nothing to do with wanting more pie. "I eat, I eat," she said, picking up her fork. Of course she ate. But eating for one was different. Not having anyone to cook for, bake for, fuss for, took the joy out of eating. She hated cooking for herself.
"Julia looks great. I wish I had that problem," Gwen said with a laugh. Julia caught the hint of embarrassment in her voice as she spoke. She had noticed that her sister-in-law had put on weight since she'd last seen her. But Gwen was as pretty as ever and she wouldn't have guessed it was an issue. She had the same coloring as her brothers — brown hair with streaks of blond and hazelnut colored eyes. All three Bailey children were stunning, extra pounds or not.
"You're as gorgeous as always, Gwen," Chase said.
Gwen rolled her eyes and gave him a light punch on the side of his arm. "And you are as charming as always."
"Guess what, everyone?" Maggie was sitting on her knees looking around the table and she clanked her fork against her glass.
Chase reached over with a groan, holding on to the glass as it tipped precariously to one side. "All right, Maggie, I think you have everyone's attention now," he said, his deep voice laced with laughter.
Excerpted from Christmas with the Sheriff by Victoria James, Alethea Spiridon. Copyright © 2016 Victoria James. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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
Really good story
Moving on from tragedy and ... angst.
First book in a series of 3, read this one first it is wonderful. Readers will fall in Love with the little girl Maggie.
Christmas with the Sheriff is heartwarming and adorable - pretty much the perfect book to read by the fire this holiday season! Christmas with the Sheriff introduces Julia Bailey and Chase Donovan, two longtime best friends reunited after several years. Julia has been running the last few years - running from the loss of her husband and son as well as her husband's heartbreaking secret. This Christmas, however, she's had to forgo the running - she's returning home to spend Christmas with her husband's family. Chase Donovan has missed Julia over the last few years - he loves her as a friend and maybe even something more. So when he runs into her and the sparks begin to fly, he wonders if maybe this year will finally be their time... Christmas with the Sheriff had a lot of good going for it. First of all, I loved the small town setting. Shadow Creek has some interesting, quirky residents. I loved the meddling to be found as well as the delicious drama over things such as the real estate situation. Additionally, the characters had a lot of heart. My heart broke for Julia. At first, it's not said what her husband did all those years ago (I had my suspicions though). When it was finally revealed, I wasn't too surprised, but my heart still broke all the same for Julia - what a horrible weight to have carried all these years with so many unanswered questions. I truly respected how she wouldn't break his "image" in front of his parents. She wanted him to remain pure in their eyes, which was honestly the sweetest thing she could've done. Additionally, I enjoyed seeing her find her "grove" again with Chase and his daughter. She was awkward at first, especially given the child situation, but the more she left her heart open up, the more she became whole again. Chase, on the other hand, was adorable, sexy, and sweet. His relationship with his daughter was funny as well as "aww" worthy. I also loved how he was such constant source of support for Julia. The writing style in this was simple and to the point - this book took me about an hour to read. I felt that Victoria did a great job of developing the characters as well as the romance; however, at times I did wish there was slightly more development in Julia's friendships with other side characters. In all, Christmas with the Sheriff is another "win" this holiday season. I look forward to reading more by Victoria James in the future. Grade: B
4 “perfect Christmas” Stars A sweet holiday romance, Christmas With the Sheriff is a perfect read for getting in a family Christmas mood. Chase has always loved Julia, from the very first time he set eyes on her in middle school. When she started dating his best friend, he just buried his feelings and was there for her as a friend. Now a single dad to a precocious 7-year-old he still holds warm feelings for her. Julia has been to hell and back in the last 5 years since she ran from her hometown. After a tragic loss that left her widowed (possible trigger) (view spoiler) she’s finally back to visit her in-laws for Christmas. While she loves them dearly it is not only hard being back there where all her memories seem to be more vivid, but keeping the devastating secret she learned about her late husband might well prove too much. Chase is finally ready to show Julia how he feels. Now that she’s home he grabs the opportunity for him and his daughter to charm her into staying for good. Julia had suffered a grave loss that she hadn’t really worked through after all these years. She was understandably worried about ever losing someone she loved again, but I wish she hadn’t been so pessimistic about her own feelings. At times it felt a little like self-fulfilling prophecy the way she kept going in circles in her own head. Chase was completely charming. He was a great dad, a good man, in charge and completely in love with Julia. He was set on not settling for anyone other than the love of his life and he went after her, but always thinking about his little girl first. As usual, I just couldn’t resist a good single dad story. Although it had a little more sorrow than I was expecting, Christmas With the Sheriff was a really sweet read about learning to let go and trusting your heart again, and how true love be that of family or your other half can truly heal all. *I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book*
I really enjoyed this holiday romance. This book is the true essence of the holiday season. This is a make you feel good story, but there are moments when tears sprang into my eyes. It's truly a beautiful book. I just loved Chase's daughter Maggie. She is just adorable and a hoot. I found myself laughing a lot with the sayings she comes up with. I highly recommend this book if you're looking for a book to get you into the holiday spirit.
Home Julia Bailey left Shadow Creek, the town she loved when her whole life crashed around her. After she had to bury both her husband and her son together. She dealt with the grief of losing them as well as the secret she learned afterwards. Now she's back home to spend Christmas with the Bailey's. Coming home was tough, but she's comforted again by the extremely handsome sheriff Chase Donovan who helped her before. But by spending more time with him she dreams of a life she wishes she could have. But could she actually open herself to the possibility of losing it all again? Chase and his daughter Maggie are two peas in a pod, as he tells her. After his wife ran out on them, Chase has done everything possible to make sure Maggie has everything she needs. Especially all the love he could possibly give her. Chase has secretly love Julia since they were kids, but she married his best friend. After they lost him Julia left town, now she's back and he refuses to let her slip through his fingers again. How can Chase convince Julia to open up her heart and let him in? How does he keep her from running away? Can Julia let go of the past as not only see, but let the love that's right in front of her in? You'll have to read CHRISTMAS with the SHERIFF to find out. This story was amazingly written, I thoroughly loved reading it. What a heartbreaking but love filled story! I received an ARC via IndieSagePr and Entangled Publishing through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A sweet holiday romance! Ms. James did not disappoint with her latest story of small-town love and romance. Julia Bailey lost her husband and toddler son in one dark night, and shortly after left the town she'd called home since high school. Now she's back, and her husband's family--and his best friend--have welcomed her with open arms. But Julia's just staying for the holidays...isn't she? I loved Chase, Julia, and Maggie, Chase's seven-year-old daughter; they were absolutely magic together and it's pretty much impossible to not be cheering them on from the very first chapter. This is a second chance romance of sorts--Chase has always had a thing for Julia, but never acted on it because she was his best friend's girl. Throw in the magic of Christmas, and I'm not sure what else you could possibly need... :) Chase is rock solid from the prologue to the epilogue, and Maggie is absolutely adorable and precocious. Reading her bits made me twice as anxious for Thanksgiving to get here, because I clearly need mroe quality time in with my niece and nephew. I wanted the two of them to have a happy ending more than anything, because boy, do they ever deserve it. I could totally relate with the single-parent schedule of assistance he had going on--been there, done that! Julia was a sympathetic character too, of course, though she could be inconsistent at times. I understood her hesitation, I really did, but her ups and downs with regard to what she wanted, what she was going to do, and exactly what "moving on" looked like for her were a bit frustrating. I was a little disappointed that my #1 pet peeve with regards to common widow/widower plot devices was once again used here, but I know that that 100% just me, so... I was super excited to see that this is the first book in a new series, because already Ms. James has managed to pique my interest with a few characters who clearly need their own HEAs. Hopefully Lily and Jack (Julia's husband's twin) will have their story next, because do they ever have some big-time backstory going on... Rating: 4 stars / B I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
This was a cute second chance romance. Julia Bailey suffered a terrible tragedy five years ago and has not returned to her hometown since. She finally returns for a holiday visit and re-connects with her late husband’s best friend and sexy sheriff, Chase Donovan. Chase was there for her when she needed him most and he’s more than willing to be there for her now. Julia has to overcome several hang-ups, but Chase is beyond patient. Honestly – he seemed a little too good to be true. The steam factor was pretty tame which was surprising but this is my first Victoria James novel, so I’ll be better prepared next time. I generally go for more steam with my book boyfriends, especially those with a deliciously deep voice. Maggie, Chase’s adorable little girl was beyond cute and added some depth to the story. It is clear that Julia should have gone more for the bad boy Chase when they were in high school, but at least now they have a second chance if Julia can get past her defenses and fear of getting hurt again. It’s understandable, but a little frustrating by the end of the story. Received copy from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest review.
O my goodness, fair warning - grab a tissue or box of tissues, especially if you are feeling sentimental about your kids. This was such a beautifully written story. The love between Chase and Julia was so sweet, tender, cherished, heartwarming. The Bailey Family was just about perfect with their support for Chase, Maggie and Julia. And Maggie, she just about stole the show. I loved her reactions and comments, especially pertaining to her dad. She was the cutest. But seriously, I cried in this story several times and cheered this couple on. After all they both went through, they truly needed and deserved a happy ending. Now I need more from this, including Jack's story and more from Chase and Julia. I received this book in exchange for an honest review from the publisher through Netgalley.
Christmas with the Sheriff by Victoria James.....What a perfect book at this time of the year. This story will hit the emotion buttons. I enjoyed the story between Julia and Chase. This is my first book by Victoria James and it will not be my last. I voluntarily reviewed an advance readers copy of this book.
Victoria James has a new hit series!!!!! Yes, that’s me shouting. It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Victoria James. She writes romances that are fun, charming, and hit on all the right emotions. Add in Christmas and a small child, I’m a goner. Victoria is one of those authors whose name I see and I just grab the book. So, I went into reading Christmas with the Sheriff not knowing what it was about. Immediately, your emotions are on high alert with the Prologue. You’re left just a little shattered as the images of the scene run through your mind. Fast forward five years, to present day and you find yourself wanting to reach into the book and hold Julia’s hand for support. After the death of her family, she had to get away from Shadow Creek. In the five years she’s been away, she’s managed to slightly heal from her loss and the secret her husband hid from her. She finds herself wondering if the people she held near and dear to her heart knew about the secret all along. Julia feels guilty because life went on without her in Shadow Creek, and she wasn’t there when her friends and loved ones needed her the most. Chase Donovan hasn’t always had an easy life. His childhood is one he likes to keep close to the vest so to speak. But Chase is really one of the good guys. When Julia’s world was turned upside down, he was there to support her, even as he himself was reeling from the loss of his best friend. In the five years since Julia has been gone, things for Chase has changed as well. He’s now a single father to a seven-year-old little girl named Maggie. But something that hasn’t changed is his feelings for Julia, which goes back to the day she first arrived in Shadow Creek her sophomore year of high school. Julia can’t help but be reminded of what she lost every time she looks at Maggie and does things with her. She’s sworn that she would never leave herself vulnerable to love and loss again. But ever so slowly, a man who has always been in her heart and a very insightful little girl are going to make her realize that Christmas is truly a time for forgiveness, family, love, and peace. Victoria James has given readers a closed door romance which if you didn’t believe in the power of love will make you a believer. She has written a story with characters you wish were real and could be in your corner. She’s introduced you to secondary characters you can’t wait to get to know better. Be prepared with tissues at the ready, because Christmas with the Sheriff is going to take you on an emotional ride. **Received a copy of the book courtesy of Entangled Publishing and voluntarily reviewed.**
This is a lighthearted, sweet story about love, tragedy, and romance. Chase has always been in love with his best friend’s wife and feels guilty about it. But he never would’ve done anything about it. Then his friend dies and Julie is left alone to mourn the death of not only her husband but also her son. It was emotional time for her so she just left town. Now she is back after five years and Chase has until Christmas to prove to her how good they can be together. It’s up to him and his daughter, Maggie to convince Julie not to leave. Julie has suffered enough. It is not possible for her to let someone else in. She doesn’t want to risk losing loved ones the way she did. Although she cannot deny her attraction to Chase. He has been good to her. He is her rock, but she is scared to have her heart broken once more. Will people she adores be able to convince her to stay or not? I enjoyed reading it. It was a quick read for me. I’d recommend it to all contemporary romance readers.
It took me just over a day to get thru this book and I enjoyed it every step of the way. It's emotion-packed as Julia has to deal with her past and decide if she's ready to take the chance on moving forward. She's afraid, for obvious reasons, but has to realize that you can't really live life in fear. Back in her old town, face-to-face with friends and family, has her taking stock but also brings some surprises in the super-fine form of the town's hunky sheriff. Chase is just about perfect. He's sexy and strong, but also loving and tender with his daughter and his friends. There's also his amazing patience and insight into handling Julia as she works on her issues. He's had feelings for her for years and isn't going to miss out on his chance to convince her to stay, even if it means they have to battle some old ghosts together. I will say that there were a few continuity issues - timing seemed a little weird, a one sentence mention of Chase's ex that didn't make sense in context, things like that. This was an advance copy so it may have been cleaned up in editing but if not I don't think it will be a big deal for most. This didn't really bother me all that much but I know that it will bug some people so I thought I should at least mention it :) Julia's journey to let go of the past and move toward a satisfying future makes for a touching story, keeping your heart humming until the very end. (I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s.)
I voluntarily reviewed this ARC in exchange for a honest review.I loved this book,Ms James is my new author to read.I love her book covers,that's what attracted me to her in the first place.I thought the storyline was well written and had likeable characters.Will definitely read more of her in the near future.
"Christmas with the Sheriff" by Victoria James is book number one in the "Shadow Creek, Montana" series. This is Julia Bailey and Sheriff Chase Donovan's story. It's been five years and Julia is back in Shadow Creek for the holidays. Julia still has unresolved issues from the past plus a secret about her late husband. Chase has always loved Julia but since she ended up with his best friend had kept quiet about his feelings. It's been fives since her husband's death and since Chase has seen her. Chase was determined to not let her get away this time. I could feel the chemistry and attraction between Chase and Julia. They seem so right for each other. The problem is Julia doesn't know if she can put herself in the position to be hurt again. Chase even though he loves Julia his daughter is his top priority. Will Chase and Julia take a chance on love? Chase and Julia have a lot of emotional baggage to work through in order to find their happily ever after. This was an emotional love story. At times you may cry, laugh, or want to knock some sense into Julia and Chase. I enjoyed this sweet and heartwarming romance. I also loved Chase's daughter, Maggie. I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
I am so excited that we got a Holiday book by Victoria James!! I think that she has outdone herself with this one and that it is possibly the best I have read by Victoria James yet! This story is so heart warming and moving. I was moved to tears and just wanted to wrap poor Julia up in a big bear hug through most of the story! Julia is a young woman that has been down a hard road. When her husband and son get killed in a car accident, her whole world stops and she has to learn how to live again. The pain never seems to get easier for Julia and she is reminded of both her husband and her son everywhere she turns. When Julia decides to go visit her husband's family for Christmas this year, will she be able to focus while she is there or will the memory and pain be to much for her to bear? While Julia is there, she runs in to Chase, her husband's best friend, and they have some time together. Chase is in the middle of dealing with a hard time himself with his wife walking out on him and leaving him with his sweet little girl, Maggie. Chase is trying to help Maggie through missing her mom all while keeping it together for himself. When Chase and Julia begin to spend quiet a bit of time together, Julia begins to ease the ache that Maggie has for not having a female figure around in her life anymore. When the time comes for Julia to head back to her new home, will Chase be able to convince her that she is better off with him and Maggie? You have to read this one to find out. Such a great read that will get you in the Holiday spirit for sure. Thanks Victoria James for a great hear warming read!!
Perfection. It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Victoria James' writing and my Christmas wouldn't be complete without a festive themed read from her. Christmas with the Sheriff is, for me, Victoria at her very best; I'd go as far as saying this is the finest book she's written to date and believe me, she's written some keepers. To be able to take such a heart wrenching subject which hits you where it hurts, and create an enchanting, heartwarming romance filled with hope and promise, is a gift. It was pitched perfectly and, for every moment that has you reaching for the tissues, there are many more that will make you smile. "He’d carried her away from her darkest thoughts on her darkest days." For someone who has experienced such tragedy, Julia is one hell of a woman and her strength was quite humbling. And when she returns to Shadow Creek to spend Christmas with her late husband's family, who themselves are wonderful, one man is particular pleased to see her; her husband's best friend, Chase. I love a man who wears his heart on his sleeve and Chase dons his with the best of them. I’m not a guy who wastes time wishing for things, but if I were, I wish you’d stay.” I have to say though, as much as I loved Julia and Chase, it was Chase's daughter Maggie who stole so many moments throughout with her smart, insightful, sweet, honest nature. She was so adorable I wanted to scoop her up and snuggle her and her relationship with both Chase and Julia brought much of the emotion. "...now that you’re here, he doesn’t seem alone anymore." Christmas with the Sheriff is the perfect opener to the Shadow Creek, Montana series and with Julia's brother-in-law Jack back in the fold, I can't wait to see what his story will bring. I have a feeling it may well be emotional.
Loved this book!! It's a wonderful small town romance with characters that will grip you by the heart. Julia Bradley has suffered heartache that most people can never imagine. She not only lost her husband in an accident but her young son as well. Unable to stay in the small town they had lived in she fled far and fast.She returns to her hometown after 5 years to spend the holidays with her family. While there she sees Chase Donovan again. Chase has loved Julia for as long as he can remember. When she married his best friend he tried to move even marrying himself but one look at her again and he knows he's only been fooling himself. While in Shadow Creek Julia and Chase spend some time together along with Chase's adorable daughter Maggie. The relationship between father and daughter is wonderful and being with these two may be exactly what Julia's heart needs to heal and move forward. You don't want to miss this incredible heart touching and uplifting story. I highly recommend it.
"Christmas with the Sheriff" begins with Julia attending the burial of her husband and son, Matthew and Michael. Her husband's best friend, Chase, is holding an umbrella for her and comforting her and himself as best he can. Flash forward 5 years and Julia is returning to the town she left behind when trying to escape her grief. She has tried to put her husband and son's deaths behind her, but her life has been frozen- she still gets sad when thinking about children and can't think of dating someone. Chase has had a difficult 5 years- his wife left him and their daughter, Maggie- behind and alone without an explanation. He has tried to raise Maggie as best he can. He stays away from dating, but he is still hung up on his best friend's girl (Julia). I think you can see where this is going, and it's somewhat predictable. That being said, the Christmas atmosphere is healing and they both grow as characters throughout the book. It's a heartwarming and (clean) romance with the backdrop of Christmas and familial love. You won't find more than a kiss described. Maggie is adorable and very fun, mature for her age, as the child of a single parent often is. Chase is rugged, loyal, handsome and a really fun leading man. You're cheering for him throughout the book. Julia is easy to understand- she not only lost her family but she found out her husband was not always honest- and this makes her a sympathetic character. I only wish the two of them had come together sooner! Overall, I found this to be a wonderful heartfelt Christmas romance, and I am left with all sorts of delicious gooey feelings! Please note that I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher through netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
5 - "...You came home for Christmas." Stars! Victoria James starts a new Shadow Creek, Montana series, with an emotive and heartfelt, Christmas read, and be warned, Christmas with the Sheriff is a book that you are going to need a healthy stock of tissues to cry into whilst reading. Grief, unexpected loss and dealing with the aftermath of those things, are not something I would traditionally want to read in a Christmas romance. But I think when you take into the other aspects of Christmas that include, family, love, remembrance, and letting go of the past, when done well it can be a special sort of mix. Victoria James certainly hit the right note with Julia and Chase’s story, and for all of those aspects. "You’ll be happy again… I promise." I needed tissues right from the prologue with this story, and although after that point the book picks up five years on, you can very much tell straight away, that Julia is still struggling to come to terms with the loss of her husband and child, especially with the revelations that come to light afterwards. But she has forged on and made a life for herself, a very successful one in the city. Returning to Shadow Creek for Christmas brings back to the fore all of those long buried memories, but it also opens up the doors to new possibilities as well. "I’m not a guy who wastes time wishing for things, but if I were, I wish you’d stay." Chase; now a single father, and although being Julia’s deceased husband’s best friend, with her return to town he can’t deny that the feelings he buried for her all those years ago, are very much still there. But Julia isn’t planning on staying past the Christmas period, and he has his daughter Maggie’s feelings to take into account as well, getting attached to her may not be the best thing for either of them, but it’s hard to deny his feelings when he sees just how well she fits with him, and with Maggie. "Now that you’re here, he doesn’t seem alone anymore…" That extra dimension you get when adding a child into the mix is explored with great result’s in this book, and once again the author managed to pull more tears from me when Maggie’s vulnerable side came into play, I think it was all the more poignant, as she is such a sparky kid through most of the book. There is a lot going on in this story, you can tell that the author is setting the scene for the series, with the introduction of a few characters, as well as giving a little back ground on a lot of them through the stories progression. But its done really well, the tidbits you are given are pertinent to the plots progression, and it leaves you intrigued to find out more about these characters as more books are released from the series. Probably one of the best books I have read by this author so far, and I am looking forward to reading more from the series in 2017. This is a voluntary review of an Advanced Reader Copy of this book.
ARC Review: Christmas With the Sheriff by Victoria James Julia thought she had the perfect life until tragedy struck and left her with more questions than happy memories. There is nothing more heartbreaking than a mother having to bury her child. Julia's pain in that moment grabs hold and although unbearable to watch is hard to look away from. The fact that she lost the love of her life in that moment has repercussions in her life for years to come. Ms. James takes readers on a prolific journey that starts with heartache and tragedy but ends with healing and redemption. Christmas With the Sheriff is a story second chances. For Julia, a chance to unlock her heart and allow herself to be vulnerable and find happiness again. For Chase, a chance to risk exploring the feelings he's kept hidden. Victoria James makes it okay to ugly cry because a beautiful smile is only a heartbeat away.