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  • 1 person found this review helpful

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    Wonderfully sweet Christmas romance! Fantastic!

    Haley Jordan is a new author for me & Candy Cane Kisses is his first novel. It is a sweetly delicious romance that I honestly wasn't sure I'd care for. I'm not really into regular romance novels & thought I might be bored after reading the synopsis. But I was VERY wrong. This book has all the elements you could want in a romance novel with true emotion, well-crafted characters & a plot that is not at all predictable. I found it totally enchanting. Besides, it's a Christmas story & who doesn't LOVE Christmas? Anne Baumann is the owner of a boutique store, Candy Cane Stitches, in Venice, FL. She has taken her love of cross stitch & made it into her career. Her store is very successful at first. But as Christmas approaches, her sales plummet. She starts to panic, thinking starting her own business might have been more than a little hasty. After all, she had a great job as a paralegal before she opened Candy Cane Stitches. If only she hadn't gotten involved with Dexter Pendegrass. If only that relationship hadn't crashed & burned, taking her job with it. But "ifs" aren't going to help her finances. She should've realized the cross stitch world was pretty much seasonal & no one would be making last minute purchases right before Christmas. Now her finances are a mess & she's not sure where to turn. Anne's parents just moved to Florida after her father retired from being a CPA. While she's helping put up their Christmas decorations, they invite her to the Jasmine Lane Christmas block party. There Anne meets Jim Grant, her parent's neighbor. He's grumpy, unsocial & downright rude! But there's a reason for that. Jim lost his cherished wife, Ellen, 3 years ago, just before Christmas. He's been in mourning ever since but the holiday season is by far the worst. Ellen used to take such joy in Christmas & now he can't handle the memories. After Jim's rudeness to Anne, you wouldn't think anything could come from that meeting. But Anne's mother has decided to help her daughter & the man who lives across the street to at least be friends. Anne is stubborn beyond belief & she refuses to have anything to do with a man who can't get over his dead wife. Jim, in his own way, is just as stubborn as Anne. He's stuck in his grief & doesn't want to move on. With Anne's financial problems a secret from everyone but her best friend, Jan, & Jim's hermit-like existence outside his job, can anything bring these two together, even as friends? It certainly seems like every step forward brings two or three steps back. Can Anne & Jim break through their walls & move forward? Or will they fall back on old habits & stay buried in the pain & hurt of the past? Will Anne's store survive? Her relationship with her parents is certainly going to get rocky if she has to tell them she's failed as a businesswoman. And what about Jim? Does he even want to move forward or will Ellen's ghost always remind him of what could have been? There are so many questions & obstacles. You have to wonder exactly how anything can ever work out. Haley Jordan does a masterful job of bringing the conflicting elements of this story together. He's crafted an extremely complex tale with twists, turns & totally unexpected events throughout. Candy Cane Kisses was not at all what I expected. It went so far beyond my expectations! I'm so glad I took the time to read the book. If you love well-written characters, Christmas, and romance, you'll love Candy Cane Kisses! I give it my highest recommendation!
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