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    A Christmas romance!

    The Noel Stranger by Richard Paul Evans takes readers to Salt Lake City, Utah. Agnetha “Maggie” Walther is shocked when she learns that her husband, Clive is a bigamist. Maggie hides in her home for the next six months to avoid the people’s looks and reporters. Her friend, Carina convinces Maggie that she needs to get out and suggests she purchase a Christmas tree. Maggie goes to the local tree lot where she meets the owner, Andrew. Andrew delivers the tree later that evening and they chat over coffee. Maggie is taken with him and cannot stop thinking about the handsome Andrew. A few days later Maggie goes back to the lot to obtain Christmas lights, and he offers to help her decorate the tree. Their friendship begins and quickly blossoms into romance. Maggie’s heart is opening as she falls in love with Andrew. But then Maggie discovers that Andrew has been not been forthcoming on his past and doubts begin to surface. Can Maggie listen to Andrew with an open mind and heart? The Noel Stranger is the second book in The Noel Collection, but each book in the series is meant to stand on its own. While I have enjoyed other stories by Richard Paul Evans (The Christmas Box being my favorite), The Noel Stranger was a letdown. Maggie is supposed to have trust issues, but she meets Andrew and seems to instantly fall in love. Within two weeks, they are jetting off to Mexico for a vacation. I would have expected the romance to progress at a slower pace as she slowly gets to know Andrew. The Noel Stranger felt unrealistic and predictable. The story lacked depth and I was not able to connect with the characters. Maggie is a contradiction as well as selfish. Maggie has been neglecting her business for the last six months while she has been wallowing at home in self-pity (I would have been angry). She has been relying on her business assistant to run the business and she has little training (I am shocked she still has a business). The story felt contrived and flat. I rolled my eyes so often they hurt the next day. The Noel Stranger features forgiveness, love, redemption, hope, compassion, important of communication and second changes. I am giving The Noel Stranger 3 out of 5 stars. The Noel Stranger is a light, clean romance novel that is an easy and quick story to read (just not the right fit for me).
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