The Christmas Room
By Catherine Anderson
Life has been a series of challenges for the McLendon family – death, illness and relocation have all been factors in their latest situation. Cameron, his son, Caleb and Cam’s mother, Maggie are all living in a cluster of somewhat improvised housing in the Bitterroot Valley of Montana, waiting till their new house is built. In the meantime, Cam is working as a realtor specializing in selling agricultural land while Maggie resumes her job as a writer. Despite their temporary housing situation, the family is fairly well settled into a new routine, and things are going along as well as can be expected.
Cam has raised Caleb as a single parent, and dating has been far from his mind for many years – that is until he meets Kirstin Conacher. Sparks may fly, but a full-fledged inferno may occur when Kirstin’s irascible father, rancher Sam Conacher, gets wind of his daughter’s romance with the neighbor that Sam considers a step or two below “white trash.” Sam has no clue what he’s getting into when he takes on his daughter, nor does he expect to come to care about the entire McLendon family.
From Cam and Kirstin to Sam, Maggie and even Caleb, each of them has some pretty serious emotional baggage – but it’s the secrets that they are all keeping from one another that could be their downfall. Neighbors or not, Sam is not willing to accept that his daughter wants a life of her own, and Maggie? Well, she’s keeping devastating news to herself, news that could pull the rug out from under her family’s dreams altogether.
The Christmas Room may sound like a Christmas themed romance, but it truly is not. It’s a year-round romance with a happy Christmas ending, and it’s terrific. Author Catherine Anderson takes the time to develop each of the main characters into a living, breathing person with real emotions, and the realism of their situations, dialogue and personalities give the story depth and heart. Sam is easy to hate, but turns out being just as easy to love as his journey from lonely widower to family man progresses, but this is Cam and Kirstin’s story, and their evolution from new neighbors to newlyweds is nothing short of delightful. Charming and poignant, The Christmas Room will tug on your heartstrings indeed, but it’s the warmth of the story that will stay with you long after the last page is turned.
Joyce Greenfield, ReaderToReader.com