Wednesday, October 19, 2016


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?

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.

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Liza's Review:

When I pick up a book by Nancy Naigle, I know I'm going to get a story filled with emotions. Christmas Joy totally delivered the emotion filled story I was in the mood for when I picked it up.

Joy Holbrook is a super strong and independent woman. She rarely depends on others and is a total workaholic. She has very few real friends, with the exception of her co-worker Renee, and only her Aunt Ruby as family. However, when push comes to shove and her Aunt Ruby needs her help, Joy takes the time off from work to help. Of course, she has way more on her plate with taking care of the animals on the farm and decorating the house for the annual Christmas Home Tour. When Molly, a little girl Ruby makes lunch and helps get on the bus each morning shows up, Joy was so out of her element. Luckily Ben Andrews is there to save the day, as he has helped Ruby decorate the house for years.

I loved watching Joy change so much during Christmas Joy. She hadn't celebrated Christmas since she left her Aunt Ruby's house and as she worked with Ben and Molly decorating and making cookies for the tour, she started to remember how much she loved the season. I loved how she and Ben helped each other with Christmas projects using their strengths. I loved the slowly developing relationship between Joy and Ben. They were so sweet together, and after a rocky start, they really worked as a couple for me. However, my favorite part of the story was seeing Joy change her opinion about children. She had never been around many, but once she started spending time with Molly, I saw the sweet side of Joy come out and could totally see her as an awesome mom. 

Christmas Joy was a really sweet story with so much emotional growth in the characters. I loved the humor from Aunt Ruby. I also loved watching Joy and Ben slowly more their relationship from just friends to more. Nancy Naigle gives readers a beautiful story to get them ready for the Christmas season.

Rating: 4 Stars (B+)
Review copy provided by publisher

Christmas Joy Excerpt
Chapter Twenty-one
            At seven o’clock on the dot, Ben stood at the front door of Ruby Johnson’s house, feeling a little as he had when he was a teen picking up his prom date. Unsure of what the night would hold, but excited to figure it all out. He raised his hand and knocked.
            When the door opened, Joy stood there looking more beautiful than ever, with her hair pulled up in a messy bun and wearing a long-sleeved T-shirt with the sleeves pushed up.
            Disquieting thoughts danced through his mind, like what his hands would feel like running down her arms as he pulled her in for a hug, a kiss. Maybe even more than that.
            He held back the involuntary reaction to gush over how pretty she looked.
            The last thing he wanted to do was spook her, since he seemed to have a way of saying the wrong things around her. Play it cool, Ben.
            Even with that neckline covering every bit of her, and not an ounce of makeup on her face, she was incredibly sexy to him.
            “Come on in,” Joy said.
            Ben followed her into the living room and placed the folders he’d been carrying on the pine plank coffee table in front of him.
            He could push her into a cha-cha and she’d never know it, the way she was dodging him. Why was she so nervous? “Do you specialize in Christmas trivia?”
            “No. Not really, but I have been working on a Christmas account for a long time, so I do have a lot of it.”
            “I see.” But darn if she didn’t quit spouting trivia like some kind of Christmas Trivial Pursuit dictionary of lost facts, and start answering his questions, he was going to lose it. “Do you like white lights or colored lights on your trees?”
            “One of the leading vendors out of Georgia has reported that, of the hundreds of thousands of strings of lights sold each year, seventy percent are white. So I guess white are the most popular.”
            “Do you like white lights or colored lights on your trees?”
            “One of the leading vendors out of Georgia has reported that, of the hundreds of thousands of strings of lights sold each year, seventy percent are white. So I guess white are the most popular.”
            Ben dropped the string of lights from his hands to the ground and stood there, blinking.
            “I’m not asking you for a free market research analysis. Not even what’s popular. I’m asking what you like.”
            “Does it matter?”
            “Yeah. Sure it does. I’m interested.” And you’re beautiful when you quit sidestepping me.
            She fumbled with the lights, as if he’d said that out loud. “I don’t know that I can answer the question. I haven’t put up a tree by myself. Ever. So I don’t know what I’d pick.”
            “No. I’ve never had a Christmas tree of my own. In fact, the last Christmas I celebrated was here with Ruby when I was a teenager, and there wasn’t much celebrating going on that year.”
            “The year your mom died?” She nodded.
            “But that was, like, what—ten or fifteen years ago? What about all the Christmases since then?”
            “I just stay busy. Head down. Work. Keep it all a safe distance from me.”
            “How’s that working for you?”
            “Until this very minute, it seemed to be working fine, but I’ll be honest—” She stopped pulling the string of lights through her hands. “—I’m feeling a little nostalgic about it all now.”
            “Holidays will do that,” he said.
            “It’s like I’ve missed out on making memories with Ruby because I was so afraid of reliving the painful ones with Mom.”
            He wanted to hold her. Tell her he understood and wished she weren’t hurting. To be there for her. But she didn’t seem ready to share her pain. He resisted the urge and simply offered, “I’m sorry.” “It’s okay.” Her words were soft. “I can’t change the past. But I can definitely revisit the way I do things going forward.”
            Better to reroute this discussion to something safer, and anything that might lift the mood. “So you are a workaholic who has never been married. Have no children. Haven’t celebrated Christmas since you lived here in Crystal Falls.”
            She plugged her string of lights into the wall. Nothing. “Sounds kind of pitiful, doesn’t it?”
            “Nothing pitiful about it.” He dragged his strand over and plugged it into the other socket. His strand lit and began to blink. “I do think,” he said as he laid his hand on her leg, “that maybe you’re overdue for a very special Christmas.”
            She wrapped her fingers around the coiled rope of dark bulbs that hung around her neck. “I think I’m ready for that, but this—” She shook the lights, hoping they’d give her a glimmer of hope. “—doesn’t look very promising.”
            He reached over and wrapped his hand around hers. Then he tugged the wreath of lights toward him and leaned in for a slow, gentle kiss.
            She hitched a breath, but then leaned into him. Accepting him. Her lips were soft. Her mouth warm and tempting.
            His heart quickened. Brushing his lips across hers.
            And as they slowed down and opened their eyes, the entire strand of lights around her neck was bright . . . flashing reds, greens, and blues.

CREDIT: From CHRISTMAS JOY by Nancy Naigle. Copyright © 2016 by the author and reprinted by permission of St. Martin's Griffin.

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