When Emma walked into the pawn shop right before Christmas, she didn’t expect to see a ghost from her past. Still, the engraved watch she gave her ex-boyfriend, Fletcher, way back in college seems like just a coincidence—but her best friend Bronwyn would argue synchronicity led her there. So when Bronwyn discovers that Fletcher is celebrating Christmas in Vermont, she volunteers Emma for a holiday position at the inn where he’s staying. The thought of a cozy inn and a snowy backdrop does have appeal … that is until she runs into Fletcher, his daughter, and his fiancée. While she’s not holding out for fate to intervene, sometimes second chances can be magical.
Anita Hughes’s unapologetically Christmassy kismet starts with Emma, who’s down on her luck because of a romantic quirk that keeps her from staying in a relationship for longer than a year—like clockwork. It’s painful reading as her practical side fully accepts this as a way of life.
But after a few signs that are either coincidences or fate, depending on the viewpoint, push her to Vermont, the fun really kicks up. Hughes excels when Emma explores her wintery wonderland surroundings, and she expertly sets up a magical setting in only a few pages. However, Christmas in Vermont really shines as she finds unique and occasionally embarrassing situations for her characters to collide. Emma’s timidity is balanced by Fletcher’s precocious daughter, Lola, which provides plenty of room for light drama.
There are a couple of small factual errors relating to Fletcher’s background in theatre. They’re not massive and won’t be distracting for most readers, but they might be noticeable to some with a working knowledge of Broadway productions. In one flashback that takes place in 2008, Fletcher mentions having tickets for The Book of Mormon, which first opened in 2011. Nothing egregious, but still noteworthy.
Even so, mixing synchronicity and romance is a recipe for a sweet time. Often romances are unfairly knocked for relying on seemingly impossible situations, but Hughes leans into a series of coincidences that eventually bring two characters back together. The result? A heartwarming read that uplifts the idea of fate.
Title: Christmas in Vermont
Author: Anita Hughes
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Publication Date: October 15, 2019
Note: I received a free ARC of this book through Edelweiss.