RITA Reader Challenge Review

RITA Reader Challenge: Sleigh Bells in the Snow by Sarah Morgan

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Title: Sleigh Bells in the Snow
Author: Sarah Morgan
Publication Info: Harlequin October 2013
ISBN: 978-0263910469
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Book Sleigh Bells in the Snow This RITA® Reader Challenge 2014 review was written by Turophile. This story was nominated for the RITA® in the Contemporary Romance category.

The summary:

Once upon a time, Christmas was Kayla Green's favorite time of year. Now all the workaholic wants for Christmas is for it to be over—as fast as possible! So when duty calls her to snowy Vermont to close a deal with a new client, Kayla is grateful for an excuse to avoid the holidays for another year.

Jackson O'Neil left a thriving business behind to return home and salvage his family's resort—it's in his blood, and he can't let it fail. Now that he's got marketing whiz Kayla Green working with him to put Snow Crystal on the map, success is on the horizon. The fact they strike enough sparks off each other to power all the Christmas lights in Vermont is just an added bonus.

Kayla might be an expert at her job, but she's out of her depth with Jackson—he makes her crave the happy-ever-after she once dreamed of, and it's terrifying. As the snowflakes continue to swirl, will the woman who doesn't believe in the magic of Christmas finally fall under its spell?

And here is Turophile's review:

During a recent SBDA podcast, Sarah Wendell mentioned Sarah Morgan as one of her favorite category romance authors.  Reading Sleighbells in the Snow, it's easy to understand why. There’s much to enjoy about this book (and this author. I’ll confess, it’s not my first Sarah Morgan). 

Rather than repeat the summary, here are a few reasons why I enjoyed this book:

The Setting

After one of the longest and coldest winter in the last century, we’re finally enjoying warm weather. Yet this book had me dreaming about sleigh rides, snow angels, and hot cocoa.  The wintery wonderland in the mountains of Vermont is so richly drawn and enticing that it feels almost as if it were a character in this book.

The Dialogue

Ms. Morgan writes crisp, humorous dialogue that not only advances the story, but also helps define each character.  For example, the heroine, Kayla, a twenty-something Brit, explains early in the book that she’s content to spend the Christmas holiday in the ice and snow.

“I love ice . . . Ideally I prefer it crushed in a margarita or carved into a swan as a centerpiece on a buffet table, but I can go with it under my feet if I have to.” 

Kayla’s words portray an independent woman who can adjust to the unknown to reach her goal.

The Chemistry

Too often in category books the chemistry consists of “She’s unbelievably hot, he’s unbelievably sexy, of course they belong together.” Though both Kayla and Jackson are undoubtedly good looking, their attraction builds from their first interaction. When they meet, she describes him as “strong enough to kill a moose.” He sees through her winter-loving facade, but plays along.  She melts with desire after their first kiss, only to discover he was distracting her from a nearby moose. The give and take and sizzle between these two just builds throughout out the book.

The Family

I have mixed feelings about family series books. Some I enjoy (i.e., Shannon Stacey’s Kowalski family), but with too many family romances it feels like the siblings or friends are introduced into the story just to set up the next romance in the series, or to tie back to the previous ones. Though the set ups of future romances for several of Jackson’s brothers were obvious, the family relationships helped hold the story together, particularly the relationship between Jackson and his grandfather. The relationship between Jackson’s niece and his brother also helped Kayla work through some of her relationship fears.

There’s so much more I like about this book, but I hate long reviews and will wrap it up. The book was so enjoyable, though not perfect. My biggest gripe is that the author spent too much time emphasizing how much Kayla hated the holidays. Enough already, we got it. She hates Christmas. But that can be overlooked in an otherwise excellent read.


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  1. 1
    LauraL says:

    I read Sleighbells in the Snow over this past weekend to celebrate Christmas in July. Hey, Hallmark had their Christmas ornament premiere over the weekend and I watched a sappy holiday movie on the Hallmark Channel, so I thought why not read a Christmas novel? This was a great pick!

    I agreed with both reviews posted today. And, Turophile, I totally agree with you, Vermont was almost a character in the book. Felt like I was there in the wintery wonderland of it all and it was ninety-some degrees in the shade here in the South on Saturday.

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