Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Review: A Gift Horse: A Christmas Carousel Story by Beth Carpenter

Heidi Reads... A Gift Horse: A Christmas Carousel Story by Beth Carpenter

My rating: 4 stars / I really liked it


Luke Mueller has good reasons to keep to himself. After his fiancée and best friend cheated him out of his company three years ago, he moved to Christmas Town and started a business restoring antique farm equipment. His only real friend was the octogenarian next door. Since she had no family around to support her, Luke pitched in to help, especially after she grew ill.

Now her granddaughter, Gwen Heatherton, has inherited the farm, and Luke wants nothing to do with a woman so self-centered she wouldn’t even visit her dying grandmother. But when Gwen requests his expertise to restore Christmas Town’s carousel in time to celebrate the anniversary of her grandmother’s friends, he agrees to help. For her grandmother’s sake.

As he works alongside Gwen in the carousel restoration, Luke discovers she’s not the selfish person he thought she was. If anything, she’s too generous with her time and energy, constantly volunteering for whatever needs doing, and in Christmas Town in December, that’s a lot. When Luke gets saddled with a canine escape artist, Gwen is there to help with that too.

The more time he spends with Gwen, the more Luke grows to admire her. He slowly learns to trust again. But Gwen has a secret that involves Luke. If he finds out, the foundation of trust they’ve built may be destroyed. And trust isn’t something that’s easy to restore.

My Review

So many great details to enjoy in this cozy holiday story! I loved Houdini, the beagle who lives up to his name, Luke's passion for figuring out mechanics and restoring almost obsolete items, and Gwen's determination to make a new life and place for herself in Christmas Town. As this is part of a collection, there are characters I could tell were significant, but I didn't have all of their story. That's good and bad, in a way, since I don't like when there are spoilers or info-dumps, but I also appreciate when the secondary characters are placed in the story in a meaningful way, and not just an unfamiliar cameo. I suppose I felt like Gwen, a bit of an outsider who is relatively new to the community. I liked how she saved her grandmother's farm from being sold off by her parents, and made an independent life for herself gardening and building her small business. Luke takes a while to warm up to her so he comes off as a grouchy curmudgeon at first, but his compassionate nature comes out the more he gets involved in the town project of restoring the carousel. The romance is sweet and starts with friendship, which I always love. The pace is steady as Gwen and Luke work with a deadline of Christmas Eve to fulfill their commitments during the busy time of year. A nice story for winter reading! I'm looking forward to reading the other books and getting to know more of the townspeople. 

(I received a complimentary copy of the book; all opinions in this review are my own)

Check out the other books in the Twelve Days of Heartwarming Christmas series . . .

A Christmas Carousel Proposal by Melinda Curtis & Cari Lynn Webb
Paint Me a Christmas by Anna Adams
Santa School by Melinda Curtis
The Dark Horse by Liz Flaherty
His Christmas Carousel Baby by Anna J. Stewart
Five Golden Wishes by Cari Lynn Webb
A Miracle for Christmas by Leanne Bristow
Pride and Presents by Cheryl Harper
Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Claire McEwen
Our Christmas Promise by Tara Randel
Defending Christmas by Carol Ross
The Hope Chest by Amy Vastine

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