Emilie Dalton gave up her stable life in Atlanta to move to Boston where she would be able to help raise her nieces and nephew, Alanna, Josie and Brendan. The children's mother, Berry, has been addicted to drugs for years. When Berry was arrested and sentenced to rehab, Emilie got temporary custody, but when Emilie lost her job and they were evicted from their apartment, social services decided to place the children in foster care. Emilie and Berry had spent several unhappy years in foster care themselves. Since it was Thanksgiving, Emilie was able to get permission to spend a few more days with the children, and decided to run away with them back to Atlanta. She doesn't get far though, before getting lost after exiting the highway for gas. It is late evening and with three tired, hungry kids to care for, Emilie decides to look for food and lodging in the next town which happens to be Bethlehem, New York. She finds a diner that is still open and is able to get food, but a place to spend the night is more problematic, since she has little money and the only place in town is very expensive. Their waitress begins to ramble about a lovely old Victorian home that is vacant, telling Emilie that she should go see it before leaving town, but Emilie can't imagine why.
Upon returning to their car, Emilie discovers that heavy snowfall is going to make it impossible to travel to the next town to seek lodging, and decides to simply take the children to the polices station and turn herself in, so that they will have a warm place for the night. She gets lost again though, and ends up in front of the old house. Knowing that it is wrong to borrow someone else's house without permission, but desperate to get the kids out of the frigid winter night, she tries the door. It is locked, but a strange breeze blows across the porch, revealing a key in the window sill. She chooses to take advantage of this bit of luck, but only intends to spend one night and send some money to the owner later, when she is settled in Atlanta. However, one night turns into a weekend when Emilie's car won't start the next morning, and a weekend into several weeks when she discovers it will cost a fortune to fix it. In the meantime, everyone mistakenly believes Emilie to be the long-lost owner of the house, and Emilie meets her neighbors, a pair of elderly sisters who make the perfect surrogate grandmothers for Alanna, Josie, and Brendan, and handsome police officer, Nathan Bishop.
Nathan was cruelly betrayed by his ex-wife and best friend several years earlier, and moved to Bethlehem to nurse a broken heart. He has few reasons to trust anyone, much less fall in love again, but he can't seem to resist either Emilie or the children's charms. They were swept into town by a snowstorm and just like the storm winds, they stirred up Nathan's previously bland existence, giving him the family that he has longed for in his heart. Emilie insists that she won't be staying long, but Nathan insists that she give their relationship a chance in hopes that he can change her mind. He senses her brokenness in soul, and believes that she and the children can find the healing and friendship they so desperately need in the little town of Bethlehem, just like he did. Unfortunately, the authorities have already put out a warrant for Emilie's arrest on kidnapping charges, and the longer she stays in town, the more likely it is that her deception will be discovered. This could spell disaster for Emilie and Nathan's blossoming love and for the children, who have finally found a peace and stability in their lives that they never knew existed. However, with the entire town on their side and a little help from above, they might just discover that Christmas really is a season for miracles.
Season for Miracles is a tender, heartwarming Christmas love story. Sometimes it is nice to read an uncomplicated, character-driven story, and this book definitely fits the bill. It's all about facing the obstacles that life throws in one's path, and making the best decisions you can to overcome them. I thoroughly enjoyed the charming, small-town feel of the Bethlehem, New York setting. I had thought that it was probably a fictional town, and was surprised to discover that such a place actually exists. Marilyn Pappano has created such a warm and inviting atmosphere, it will likely make the reader wish to live there too. The town has a soul-healing quality generated by it's residents and the three guardian angels who watch over and help those in need. I found this story and it's characters to be inspiring and uplifting, giving a true sense of the awe and wonder of the Christmas season and that miracles really do happen. It brought tears to my eyes on more than one occasion.
The characters are all absolutely wonderful, with not one evil character in the entire book. Emilie was a very sympathetic heroine who has been through a great deal in her life, and yet never truly has let her difficulties get her down. I loved her commitment to her family, and felt that she was making her decisions the best she could under the circumstance, always with them in mind. Nathan also had a less than ideal upbringing, but in spite of that was a kind, loving and sensitive beta hero. Also, after his first wife and best friend's cruel betrayal, Nathan had little cause to trust anyone, yet he freely opened his heart to Emilie and the children and to the love that the residents of Bethlehem showed him. The children, Alanna, Josie, and Brendan, were beautifully rendered secondary characters with each child having his or her own vivid personality, and each personality being consistent with how children might act in the circumstances in which they had been raised to that point. I liked that the children weren't always perfect angels, sometimes fighting with each other just like all brothers and sisters do. This just made them seem more realistic. The residents of Bethlehem, especially elderly neighbors, Agatha and Corinna, were a joy to read and were the true expression of the town's warmth and charm, really bringing it to life. A reader couldn't ask for a more eclectic and endearing cast of characters.
This story is just so lovely there really isn't anything to truly dislike. It would have been nice if the romance between Nathan and Emilie had been explored a little more deeply. There were times that I felt like the children and the rest of the story overshadowed their relationship a bit, but there were still some lovely scenes between them. There were a few passages of dialog where I felt the author wasn't clear as to which characters were speaking, as well as a few passages where the perspective changes from one character's thoughts to another without full clarity as to which character is thinking which thoughts. It wasn't too bad though, and things became more clear after a second reading of the passage. There were also a few places where Ms. Pappano's general wording could have been a little more clear and concise, but again it wasn't particularly difficult to follow. Overall, this was just a wonderful story in almost every respect.
This was the first book I had read by Marilyn Pappano, but it certainly won't be the last. From very early on, I felt like the story had the feel of a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, and I was pleasantly surprised to discover that Hallmark had indeed made the book into a movie also titled, A Season for Miracles, which I am very eager to watch. Season for Miracles is the first book in Ms. Pappano's Bethlehem series, a group of stories which all take place in the tight-knit community for which the series is named. The remaining titles in the series are Some Enchanted Season, Father to Be, Gabriel's Angel (a novella from the Yours 2 Keep anthology), First Kiss, Getting Lucky, Heaven on Earth, Cabin Fever, and Small Wonders. The first two books in the series both center around the holiday season. Season for Miracles was an enchanting keeper of a book which I hope to make a Christmas tradition. I am also looking forward to reading the other books in the Bethlehem series, as well as exploring the non-Bethlehem books that Ms. Pappano has written.
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