This is the one of the few Christmas themed stories that I read this year. I even hung on it to a little longer than usual as I wanted to read it in the month of December – you know for that ‘mood’ feeling. The blurb sounded perfect for the right amount of Christmas cheer and unrequited love and least I forget, there’s that part about either the hero or heroine having a child while they’re apart. I liked this enough from Janice Kay Johnson, a new to me author, but there we some things missing for me and the heroine wasn’t exactly likable for about the first ¾ of the story.
Olivia Bowen is back in her hometown following her father’s illness and subsequent death. She’s living with her mother and running the family owned hardware/home improvement store. Years earlier, after Ben Novik went to college, he did what most guys do: he broke up his high school girlfriend, Olivia. Living their separate lives, they’re both back in town – Ben as the principal of the local high school and Olivia, because of her father’s illness. Ben also brought something extra, his teenaged son.
When I read the introduction, Johnson had an interesting premise to why she wrote the story that that piqued my interest even more than the blurb did. It’s about the after effects of a particular incident. While you might think of the incident as something common, this time it’s not. A young girl freezes to death in a town. She’s unknown to anyone in the area. She has no identification on her. After putting out the appropriate notice, the town people decide pay for the burial of the young girl including a lovely headstone for the marker. The open ended question is – how will the individuals in the town react after all is said and done? Who’s to say who had an opportunity to help but chose not to? Pretty neat thing to explore, right?
There was a lot about Olivia that I wanted to know about. I wanted to know more about the time span between when she left college and before she came back to her home town. If I knew more about that time, maybe I would have liked her a bit more. There was just something about her that made her seem cold almost callous to her mother. The more I read, the more I got the feeling that Olivia’s relationship with her mother was always standoffish, mainly because of her being a daddy’s girl.
But back to the romance. Olivia has no interest in romance and certainly not with Ben. But the walls are starting to close on finding out what secrets her dead father held, her mother’s clear lack of hope in dealing with change, and her own grief. As Olivia’s relationship with her mother becomes more strained, her relationship with Ben takes on some changes that will ultimately lead to quite an explosion of high strung emotions.
I liked Ben much more than I liked Olivia. There was more substance and well-roundedness to his character. I got a pretty good idea about his life post college and before coming back home; a lot of that was explained because of his relationship with his son. And the relationship between those two was fun to read. So much teenage male testosterone, angst, and all things that make all teenage boys think they’re 10 feet tall and bulletproof. Fun stuff.
It really wasn’t until Ben and Olivia actually got together that I started liking her. I was surprised about their bedroom scenes, as they were much more than I expected. Watching Olivia soften and become a more understanding person, I was appreciative that she actually started seeing her mother as a woman ; one of those redeeming things that brought me around on Olivia (but not until too late). Ben and his son saved this for me.
Happy Reading folks!
*ARC provided by Harlequin via NetGalley for review
Click to purchase: Amazon
One Frosty Night
by Janice Kay Johnson
Release Date: November 1, 2014