The most animals I have ever had responsibility for at one time has been five cats, and it wasn’t exactly the least stressful situation I’ve ever experienced. Five pairs of eyes following me around the house. Five different feline personalities ready for either a playful bat or a scratch at any moment. And heaven forbid you accidentally jostle their treat jar lest five sets of paws stampede you.
So author Minna Howard has crafted a heroine who’s far better than me. Oh sure, Amelia originally assumed she’ll only be looking after a dog over the Christmas holiday, but after the local kennel is shut down, she opens her home to a parrot, an especially slow tortoise, and a host of others until she’s practically ringleading a growing corps of animals. However, Amelia, still recovering from losing her husband the year before, finds herself almost welcoming the distraction.
With Amelia’s home turned topsy-turvy, though, Howard understands the need for a bit of Christmas magic. Fortunately, she’s ready with Jules, a new veterinarian in the village. From there, she weaves a charming story, dropping Amelia into a series of animal-related hijinks, festive parties, and somewhat strained family relationships—all with a delightfully slow-burning romance waiting for her to sort out her baggage.
Howard’s quiet style is on full display here, and it pairs nicely with the hectic situation she’s composed. Nothing ever feels overwhelming, making The Christmas Menagerie an absolutely cozy Christmas read. My recommendation? It’s best paired with cool day, a warm blanket, and an animal friend of your choosing.
Note: I received a free ARC of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.