by Roxanne St. Claire
The Dogmothers - Book 9
Publisher: South Street Publishing
Release Date: November 12, 2021
Reviewed by PJ
Getting stood up for her high school prom turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to Colleen Kilcannon. That's when Joe Mahoney offered to fill in as her date, and magic happened. By the end of that night, Colleen was ready to give up her dreams of flying the friendly skies and seeing the world…because nothing in that world could compete with her firefighter. She and Joe married, had a family, and remained deeply in love until he died in the line of duty, leaving her a widow for twenty years.
Tim McIntosh has avoided Bitter Bark for forty-five years. But when the international business executive returns to his home town to fulfill his father’s dying wish, seeing Colleen again is inevitable. Determined to deliver a decades-old apology, he visits the dog treat store she runs, where a couple of sweet old ladies persuade him to participate in , a holiday dog fostering program. They even have the perfect dog for him to foster, an impish Westie named Bucky. There’s just one problem...someone else has already claimed that dog. Someone Tim remembers quite well.
As Colleen and Tim rekindle their friendship and co-foster a dog that seems to only be happy when they’re together, old sparks ignite. But they only have the month of December together before he returns to his life of world travel…and she returns to what suddenly seems like a mundane existence. Their relationship deepens while they set out on an impossible holiday mission to fulfill his father’s deathbed request, uncovering life-changing secrets. It’ll take one clever Westie, two scheming grannies, and a whole lot of Christmas magic for Colleen and Tim to finally get a second chance at a dance that just might last forever.
My holiday reading would not be complete without an annual Christmas story from Roxanne St. Claire. Set in St. Claire's Bitter Bark, North Carolina, and featuring characters from her popular Dogfather and Dogmother series, plus some new additions, these heartwarming tales are sure to touch readers' hearts and have them coming back for more.
Peppermint Bark is the longest of St. Claire's Christmas offerings (at 260 pages) and one of my favorites. I love that authors are crafting romances for mature characters and, for my money, St. Claire is among the best. Her characters are multi-layered and relatable, people who could be my friends or neighbors. People who could be me. They may have decades of life experience in their past but they still have plenty of romance in their souls and adventures in their future.
St. Claire does a beautiful job of portraying Colleen, a woman who has been widowed for twenty years. As a woman who has also been widowed for twenty years, I felt a deep kinship with her and empathized with her conflicting emotions. I also enthusiastically cheered her on when Tim unexpectedly reappeared in her life. Colleen has been a secondary character in previous books but we haven't really known much about her until now. I enjoyed how her story went back to the night of her high school prom then showed her progression to present day. It made her journey all the more poignant and her chance for a second love all the more satisfying. In a way, it brought her life full circle, from where she was supposed to be and the person she was supposed to be with during her early years to the person she's supposed to be with and the life she chooses to live at sixty. I loved her evolution and how it unfolded, her connection with Tim (such a good guy), her strong bond with her daughter and (overprotective) sons, her relationship with her mother (some surprising secrets are revealed), and the sweet pup who, with able assistance from two scheming grannies, notched another happily ever after under their matchmaking belts.
Peppermint Bark joins Roxanne St. Claire's other Dogfather and Dogmother books on my keeper shelf. Once again, I laughed, I cried (of course), and I turned the final page filled with joy. These characters have become my friends, their stories have found a place in my heart, and I look forward to visiting them again.
While characters from the many books in the Dogfather and Dogmother series pop in and out of these Christmas books, each one is written in such a way that it can be fully enjoyed on its own, without having read the other books first. If you're a series fan, you will no doubt enjoy revisiting some of your favorite characters but if you're new to this world, Peppermint Bark is a great place to start.
In the spirit of the upcoming holiday season, let's spread a little cheer. Tell me when you start reading holiday romances. Have you already started? Any favorites to recommend? Any particular titles you're looking forward to?
One person who posts a comment before 11:00 PM, November 19 will receive a Kindle copy of Peppermint Bark.
*Must be 18
*Void where prohibited