Grace Phillips's parents visited Conwenna Cove on their honeymoon thirty years ago and have decided to make the little village their retirement home. As a bestselling writer, Grace can work almost anywhere, so she comes along to help them get settled in their new cottage. As she explores the town and gets to know the people, she begins to see why her parents fell in love with it. The small-town charm, seaside vistas, and festive atmosphere are all uplifting to her spirit. Then she meets Oli, the local veterinarian who despite his handsome features, at first glance, is rude and abrupt. However, at a second, chance meeting, his adorable son enchants Grace, giving Oli a perfect opening for an apology. As she and Oli get to know one another, Grace is pulled into his and his children's lives, but years ago, after losing her brother to a painful illness, she swore never to have a family. Can Grace find the healing she needs to fully let Oli and his kids into her life?
Oli Davenport lost his own beloved wife to cancer two years earlier. Ever since, his life has been focused on his work as a vet and raising his children, eleven-year-old, Amy, and five-year-old, Tom. He hasn't had the time or inclination for dating, but the moment he spots Grace in the café, he's smitten, leaving him rather tongue-tied. It also didn't help that he was contemplating who might have abandoned a poor mother cat and her kittens out in the cold earlier that morning. But the second time around, he gets it right, and soon he discovers that spending time with Grace feels good and she fits in with his family like she's always been a part of it. But Grace has plans to return home after the holidays, and Oli still deeply misses his wife. Can the magic of Conwenna Cove help them get on the same page before the holidays come to an end?
Christmas at Conwenna Cove is the second book in Darcie Boleyn's Conwenna Cove series that's set in the charming seaside town of the same name on the Cornwall coast of Great Britain. I first discovered this feel-good romantic fiction series earlier this year and was eager to continue. In this one, we have town veterinarian Oli who's been widowed for two years and has two children paired with Grace, a newcomer to the Cove, who is helping her parents move into their new home. The two meet and although they don't hit it off at first, it doesn't take long for them to find a new beginning. From there, they fall into a sweet, fairly uncomplicated relationship that carries them through the Christmas season. They both simply have to figure out if they're ready for something more serious after both suffering devastating losses in their pasts, and Grace must decide if she's up for moving to Conwenna permanently. This book turned out to be a very pleasant diversion and the perfect compliment to the holiday season.
Grace is a novelist whose parents visited Conwenna Cove years earlier and have decided to retire there. They've bought a cute - if a bit run-down - cottage in town that they look forward to fixing up and enjoying through their golden years. Grace comes with them to help them get settled and soon begins falling for the charm of this little village. As she's getting acclimated to her new surroundings, she chances to meet Oli, who at first glance appears a bit rude when he doesn't shake her hand and barely speaks to her. However, a few days later, as she's working on her new novel at a local pub, a friendly little boy comes over and starts talking with her. Grace enjoys children but has sworn never to have any of her own after watching her brother suffer through Cystic Fibrosis, an awful illness to which he eventually succumbed. There's just too much risk of her passing the disease on to her offspring. Little Tom manages to almost instantly worm his way into her heart, though, and then she finds out that Oli is Tom's dad. This time, he's sufficiently apologetic for his distracted behavior at their first meeting, and Grace finds that she's very attracted to him. They keep seeing each other around town and gradually form a close friendship that blossoms into something more. But Grace must come to terms with the fear of loving someone she might lose and figure out if she's prepared to make Conwenna her permanent home. As a writer myself, I could relate to Grace and I liked that she's pretty laid-back and knows how to enjoy being in the moment. Except for her parents whom she adores, she's emotionally closed herself off from others, on some level fearing potential loss, and she's quite adamant about not having biological children. But with Oli and his kids things seem very natural. With him having experienced loss himself, they understand each other. She falls very quickly for all three of them and finds that she's open to the idea of a ready-made family.
Oli is the town veterinarian who is a bit of a crusader against animal cruelty and who's generally well-liked by the townspeople. He lost his beloved wife to breast cancer two years earlier and hasn't even looked at another woman since. When Grace shows up in town, her beauty takes his breath away. Between that and being distracted by thoughts of a mother cat and her kittens that were found abandoned earlier that morning, his first meeting with her is extremely awkward. However, he's self-aware enough to realize his failure and offers a proper apology the next time he sees her. As they start spending more time together and even meet each other's families, Oli feels a bit of guilt, wondering if enough time has passed since his wife's death to entertain the idea of a relationship with someone else, but deep down, he knows that his wife would want him and the children to find happiness again. I adored Oli, who's definitely a beta hero, for his slightly shy, socially awkward persona. He's a wonderful dad who's done an excellent job of raising his two children as a single father, even though it hasn't always been easy. Although he still misses his wife, he doesn't angst too long or hard over getting involved with Grace. It all happens quite naturally, making them feel like a great fit.
Christmas at Conwenna Cove is a wonderful feel-good story that was a very enjoyable way to spend my reading time this holiday season. Much like the first book of the series, it's a bit slow-paced, but somehow it didn't feel excessively so. It just fit with the unhurried setting, the season, and the story that was being told. I really appreciated spending time with Grace and Oli who simply meld together as though they were always meant for one another. Oli's kids, Amy and Tom, are wonderful secondary characters, as are Grace's parents (I really wanted to try her dad's cooking :-)) We also get a couple of quick sightings of Eve and Jack (Summer at Conwenna Cove), and a few visits with Nate who'll become the hero of the next book, Forever at Conwenna Cove. I loved the animal characters, too. Hope, the abused greyhound whose life Oli saves, and the mama cat and her kittens are all so cute. I'd also be remiss if I didn't mention Conwenna Cove itself, a vibrantly described setting that I still wish I could visit if only it were real. The story is a heartwarming and emotional one that is primarily upbeat, but the scenes where Oli and Grace say goodbye to their loved ones brought a few tears. This is a sweet romance with no objectionable content to speak of aside from a couple of mild bad words. I can wholeheartedly recommend this book to fans of Hallmark-esque stories that embody all the charm and spirit of the holiday season.
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