Review: Jingle Bell Harbor by Tracy Brogan

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JINGLE BELL HARBOR is a fun, funny, laugh-out-loud Christmas read that will surely put you right in the mood for the season.

Kelsey Parker was miffed because her boyfriend took off on their planned Hawaiian vacation alone, while she was stuck in Bell Harbor caring for her grandmother, who had an accident. Not that she saw it as being “stuck”, because her grandmother was quite to her, after all, but it just brought home to her once again just how selfish and self-absorbed her boyfriend was. However, she ran into a high school classmate, Drew “Little Junior” Hampton, who isn’t quite so…little any longer. Kelsey would have to think hard about her future and decide what she really wants.

Kelsey is hilarious. The novella is told in alternating first person points of view, but more of Kelsey than Drew, and I love her voice. She’s engaging and real funny. If all of Tracy Brogan’s heroines are like her, I’m sold! Drew is endearing too, a science geek who grew into this hunk of a man that’s sweet and shy and still polite.

It’s rare to find secondary characters that are unique and so well-written and defined, much more so in a novella. For one, there’s Kelsey’s sister Erin who is warm and supportive, and she’s everything I thought a family should be. Her loving relationship with her husband is written so well, whatever glimpse we have of it, that I thought they must have been the main characters of a previous book. I was disconcerted when I checked on Amazon and realized that this is the first time they appeared in a book.

Then there’s Kelsey’s grandma, who is a hoot. She hosts an erotic book club and reads racy novels. She and her elderly friend, Dody, are too precious for words. It’s a bit disconcerting to hear elderly ladies saying things like, “Maybe the Hampton boy will unleash her inner goddess” and telling Kelsey to wear something that shows “a bit more skin” and to wear something “plunging” because “how’s he supposed to get at you?” They’re destroying my concepts of prudish, little old ladies, and I can’t help but want to hear more.

This book is also peppered with puns, both Christmassy and non, and some that double as sexual innuendos, and I love it! Take a look at these gems:

(Grandma to Kelsey) “You can’t very well expect to get his lord a-leaping in that dull outfit.”

(Dody’s addition) “Exactly. Not a creature will be stirring, especially in his pants, if you don’t make some effort. Sometimes Santa needs a little helper.”

And in another incident, sister Erin is in on it too:

“I see some very interesting role-playing in your future. Maybe he’ll show you his North Pole.”

Great storyline, unforgettable characters, hilarious dialogue all set in this quaint little town of Bell Harbor. Pick this little gem up! It’s worth a read.

Rating: 5 stars

The Romance Review

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Summary:

As assistant buyer for the world’s second-largest Christmas store, Kelsey Parker feels like a holiday harlot. She’s contractually obligated to promote the yuletide season. All. Year. Long. And it’s taking a toll on her spirit. But when her clueless, self-absorbed boyfriend goes on their long-anticipated romantic vacation—without her!—Kelsey is beyond disappointed to find herself tromping through the Bell Harbor snow instead of lounging on a tropical beach.

Drew Hampton is considered quite a catch among the Bell Harbor bachelorettes, but when his high school dream girl, Kelsey Parker, shows up at his grandfather’s Christmas tree lot complaining about her love life, he decides it’s long past time to get her under the mistletoe himself.

As things heat up between the two, a surprise visitor arrives, making Kelsey an offer she can’t quite believe. Now she must decide what matters most, and she just may discover the key to her happiness.

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