Yes, yes, I know. It is early for Christmas! But, Christmas is only 4 months away, so the promotion for the Christmas romance novels is starting right now. As is the case with this novel, Dear Santa by Nancy Naigle. It will be released mid-October, the 16th to be exact, later this year. I’ve got an arc for review from the publishers through NetGalley.
I hadn’t read the full blurb when I started reading the book. I just saw the cover, the title and the author and knew that I would like it. I love Christmas, I love Nancy Naigle and I love romance books. So this was a win-win-win for me. And I was right, I loved the book!
The story is this: Angela owns a Christmas store, located inside of an historic lighthouse in a quaint seaside village. She has been running the store for a while, having taking over when her grandmother died. “Christmas at Heart” has been in the family for years and she grew up in and around it. But she has kept everything running the same way her great-grandmother did and her store has fallen on bad times. A new chain “Christmas Galore” store opening in her town hasn’t helped much either. This store is run by Geoff, who owns the chain stores along with his mother.
So naturally, Geoff and Angela don’t get along. Angela is resentful of Geoff and his store for pushing her out of business. But she never really believes this, her store has been in bad papers for a while. She is upset with the fact that Geoff’s chain store doesn’t only sell Christmas stuff, and the things they do sell may be much cheaper but are also of bad quality. At the same time, her family is trying to get her to let go of the store and start living her life. So they convince her to write a letter to Santa, through a “Dear Santa” app designed for kids to send their letters to Santa and get a response in return. She sends a letter saying that there is a bully in town who is trying to ruin her Christmas.
Naturally, this app is owned by “Christmas Galore” and since Geoff’s mom is in the hospital with heart problems, she asks him to take over responding to the letters that the algorithm doesn’t answer automatically. And so Geoff and Angela email back and forth a few times – neither of them realising who the other is. They get close, both in real life and over e-mail. In the end, Angela decides to close her store on Christmas Eve and figure out what she wants to do with her life in the new year. And Geoff is asked to join the tourism board of the seaside town, coming up with the idea of having Angela run it. Angela is the perfect person for the job since she has been living in that town her whole life, all of the locals know and love her, and she knows all of the history about the town. One year later, we see Geoff and Angela engaged, reopening the lighthouse which is now the tourist centre – with their wedding taking place in just a few days, on December 24th. All together now: awww. All’s well that ends well.
So why did I expressly say that I didn’t read the blurb before reading the book? Well, the blurb says this is a modern-day retelling of You’ve Got Mail. And it totally is. After reading that, it clicked. And it stuck in my head while writing this review, becoming all the more clear. But I think that kind of ruins the story a little. Because this book is so different. And I don’t just mean that it’s Christmas stores instead of bookstores, it’s different because Angela knows Geoff isn’t responsible for her having to close her store (which is a lot less the case in the movie). Geoff also doesn’t figure out who she is until the very last e-mail, and he also doesn’t stand her up on their date. He isn’t such a douche about it. He is a really nice guy, and he is immediately into Angela – even after he finds out who she is. I liked this story so much better. The whole emailing back and forth is also a lot less present and less of a plot point than in the movie. And there are much less of those stereotypical misunderstandings and miscommunication. Plus: Christmaaaaas!
I definitely recommend this book for lovers of the movie, for people who like sweet romances, for Christmas fans and for those who want a sweet novel to read by the fire on a cold winter night (in say, three to four months). Thumbs up from me!