In the meantime, enjoy this review! :)
Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan
published by Harlequin (HQN Books) in October 2013
Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.Genre: Contemporary romance
Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.
Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?
Series: O'Neil Brothers, Book #1
Ames: I’m not the kind of person who reads Christmas themed books. But I do like Sarah Morgan’s writing so I thought I’d give Sleigh Bells in the Snow a chance. I’m glad I did. What about you, Nath?
Nath: Me? I picked it up for two reasons. First, it is written by Ms Morgan and I’ve been wanting to read more of her work as she seems to be well-loved in blogland - plus, this was a full-length novel which is more my speed :) And second, the reviews for this book has been very good, so I’ve been curious. Overall, I do think it’s a nice Christmas themed book :)
Ames: As much as I enjoyed it, I did find it a bit slow to start. I’m not 100% sure if it was my own mood at the time or the book. Maybe it was both. But once things got underway and Kayla was at Snow Crystal, I really got into the story.
Nath: Hmmmm. I didn’t find the start slow per se, but I know I was impatient to find out why Kayla disliked Christmas so much. It was hinted, but I thought it took a while for it to be revealed.
What did you think of Snow Crystal?
Ames: I was ok with the hint about Kayla’s past, I trusted the author to reveal it in due time. LOL
I want to go to Snow Crystal right now! From the skiing to the snowmobiling and dog sled rides, it really sounds like a winter wonderland. And the maple syrup too. I liked the O’Neil familly and Elise and Brenna. Even knowing those two employees are total sequel bait, I liked them and can’t wait to read those stories.
Nath: I enjoyed the setting as well. It was really what you expected of a resort like Snow Crystal :) Also, Ms Morgan managed to make Snow Crystal which is essentially a small town refreshing. Part of it is because it was really focused on Snow Crystal as a resort, so you didn’t see the little shops you’d expect and also, Ms Morgan didn’t over-populate the book with characters. And the ones she did introduce, I enjoyed :) Elise and Brenna might be sequel bait, but they are interesting ones!
Ames: You’re totally right about Snow Crystal. The focus was on the resort and the O’Neil family. I have to admit, I liked the puppy too. :P
One thing I would have liked to have seen was a friendship develop between Kayla and Jesse, Tyler’s daughter. Yes she gave some insight into what she was going through, but I would have liked to have seen them connect with each other.
Nath: The puppy was very cute! While Kayla and Jesse didn’t really connect, I was very happy with how Jesse’s story was built up. We saw enough to be interested, but it didn’t overtake the book :)
For me, I thought Kayla came around fast… For someone who was so against Christmas and connections… She got attached to the O’Neils very fast and I thought that was surprising. I also found some of the O’Neils family members a bit pushy. I mean, people are allowed to not like Christmas or are entitled their own opinions and some of the O’Neils just disregarded everything. While sometimes endearing in books, it would have driven me bonkers in real life.
Ames: Kayla was hiding a very deep pain and so when the O’Neils showed her how family should behave, she was like a sponge. She didn’t realize she was craving that feeling of belonging. She did come around fast, but I think it was because the O’Neils, especially Jackson, didn’t let her build her shields back up after they put cracks in them. I loved that Jackson could see that about Kayla and didn’t let her push him away. And it was a two-way street: Kayla showed them a different way to relate to each other.
I didn’t find them too pushy, but I agree, in real life, it would have driven me crazy. Luckily we were reading fiction!
Nath: I guess you’re right. I still expected her to resist a bit more :)
What did you think of Jackson and Kayla? I enjoyed them together, they definitively had chemistry :) At the same time though, I felt their romance was a bit too easy… like there was a lack of wooing ^_^;
Ames: I liked Jackson and Kayla as well but it wasn’t a lack of wooing but some other lack I felt. I agree it was easy...I think because Jackson fell for her so quickly. I just can’t see how he saw beyond her frosty demeanor and decided he wanted her, like what did he see? Maybe there wasn’t enough from his POV but in the end, I got her side of the attraction so that makes up for it I guess. They were good together. And plus he has his welcoming family. :P
Nath: They were indeed good together and I liked the ending - how each of them realized their mistake in the relationship.
So overall assessment? I thought Sleigh Bells in the Snow was an engaging book, but the romance and the character development were a bit bland. I wished for a bit more. Still, Ms Morgan has captured my interest enough that I’m looking forward to see Snow Crystal in another season :) I’m giving this book a B-.
Ames: Like I said above, I thought the beginning was a bit slow but it definitely picked up once Kayla got to Snow Crystal. I liked the O’Neils and the whole atmosphere of the resort. Enjoyable characters and despite a bit of oomph lacking from the romance, I finished the book with a big smile on my face. I too look forward to reading more of the O’Neils. I’m giving Sleigh Bells in the Snow a solid B.