by: Denise N. Wheatley
Genre: Contemporary African American Christmas Romance
Release Date: October 21, 2021
Publisher: Tule Publishing
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This Christmas, can they slow down long enough to smell the roses and fall in love?
When savvy, up-and-coming floral designer Lauren Beal returns home to Maple Valley, Michigan, for her sister’s holiday wedding, she’s determined to be the perfect maid of honor. She didn’t expect the best man to be the college crush she’d reluctantly left behind to pursue her Chicago-based dreams.
Family practice doctor Mel Jennings always knew he’d remain rooted in Maple Valley to work for his father’s clinic. He happily juggles his demanding practice with philanthropic endeavors that connect him to his tight-knit community. Sparks fly when he reunites with Lauren, the one who ran away. As they enjoy Maple Valley’s Christmas festivities, Mel remembers how close they once were. But can they ever have a future?
Lauren finds herself falling for Mel and suspects the feelings are mutual. Yet they’re both pulled in different directions by work and family. Will the pair find a moment alone during the hectic holiday season to figure things out, or will they miss their chance at love once again?
Lauren Beal and Mel Jennings have known each other since childhood. Growing up in Maple Valley, Michigan, the two shared the same friends and traditions. In fact, their families were very close. Mel and Lauren even went to college together. After college, Mel was content to stay in Maple Valley. Lauren wanted bright lights, a big city and to make her mark in the floral design world. It’s been about five years since the two last saw each other. Mel is now a family doctor, working alongside his father, and beloved by the members of his community. Lauren is now the co-founder/owner of Chicago-based In Full Bloom, which is growing in popularity and attracting the attention of Chicago’s upper crest. Lauren has been so busy that she never returns to Maple Valley for Christmas. However, this year is different. This year, Lauren is returning for a couple of weeks to not only celebrate Christmas but the wedding of her younger sister.
With Lauren being the maid of honor and Mel the best man, the two are forced to be together often. It isn’t long before Lauren realizes how attractive Mel is and that he’s a really good guy. For his part, Mel doesn’t shy away when it comes to his interest in Lauren. Their problem is timing, and interference from others.
I loved Mel and Lauren both individually and together. I loved the secondary characters. Christmas in Full Bloom is a sweet romance, that flowed well and for me wasn’t predictable. I’m not giving this story a higher rating because I found the “will they/won’t they” dance to be long and frustrating. Just when I thought “yes”, I was left saying “ugh”. This story embodies what I love about Christmas romances. I found it to be fun, playful, romantic, and magical. After all, “there is nothing more magical than Christmastime in Maple Valley.” I am definitely looking forward to reading more books from Denise.
~ FAVORITE QUOTE ~
“Actions speak louder than words.”
**Received a copy of the book from the publisher and voluntarily reviewed it.**
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You can learn more about Mel Jennings in his hero profile here.
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She is an RWA member and received a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago, the city where she was born and raised. When Denise is not sitting behind a computer, you can find her in a movie theater, on a tennis court, watching true crime television or chatting on social media.
Places to find Denise N. Wheatley: