Review: CHRISTMAS IN EVERGREEN: BELLS ARE RINGING by Lacey Baker

The Christmas in Evergreen series is one of my favorites of the holiday season. The previous novelizations of the Hallmark original movies were done by Nancy Naigle. Lacey Baker (aka A C Arthur) picks up the mantle with this year’s continuation of the heartwarming holiday story.


Author: Lacey Baker
Series:
Christmas In Evergreen, #4
Release Date:
November 2, 2021
Pages: 336
Review Copy:
NetGalley*

Blurb:

Welcome back to Evergreen, the town built on Christmas wishes…

And learn what happens after one snow-globe wish comes true.

Life is going great for Hannah, really. She’s fallen in love with her best friend, her brother is getting married, and she’s looking forward to another festive Christmas in Evergreen.  Still, between her job, taking charge of the choir, and being the town’s jill-of-all-trades, she’s feeling uninspired…especially when Elliot starts to question his own role in the town.

Hannah finds fresh inspiration in the brand-new Evergreen Christmas Museum, and she volunteers for their storytelling project. When she interviews her fellow Evergreenians, however, she learns that not everyone wants the museum around; specifically Mr. Cooper who owns a third of the building. As Hannah finds herself with more and more responsibilities, and as her relationships with Elliot and her family grow strained, she starts to wonder about what she really wants. Can her love and newly-found purpose survive the changes that loom after the holidays are over?

Initial Thoughts/Expectations:

I’ve listened to the previous books in this series on audiobook, and seen each of the Hallmark movies that they represent. I’ve loved the traditionally, almost stereotypically heartwarming feel of the series. The books do seem to add some richer layers to the characters and the stories that the movies tell, so I was really excited to dive in to this year’s holiday in Evergreen. I was also looking forward to seeing how Lacey Baker took on the novelization duties from Nancy Naigle, who’d done the first three.

What I Loved:

Within the first few minutes of the audiobook, I felt like I was right back there. The town of Evergreen, Vermont has become a bit of a fictional, holiday “home-away-from-home” for me. I loved seeing the townspeople, who have all taken turns as main characters from previous stories, become a part of this new book. I loved knowing their histories, and seeing how close they all still are, and what’s been going on with them since last Christmas.

While the small-town, boy-and-girl-next-door cliches seem to apply (in the very best ways), each of the characters still has depth and their own unique offerings to the story. We have a main couple, but these other characters are so integral to telling the story. Planning a wedding, opening up a new business in town, people finding where they can make their marks, and sometimes finding their own peace with the past and even the future — all of these things are happening, and affecting the town as a whole. I love that none of the “side stories” are irrelevant. Everything that happens is important, serves a purpose, touches our hearts, and reinforces that these are friends who have become a family.

I think we all have people in our own lives that we can see bits of in the residents of Evergreen. Specifically, I think we all know someone like Hannah. I love her joy in all she does. I love that she is so dedicated to her projects, and all of the people she’s trying to help. I can also relate to the “overfilling the to-do plate” problem she has (even though she doesn’t realize she’s got a problem). She and Elliott are the “picture perfect” couple in so many ways. Unfortunately, in their effort to support each other’s everyday plans, they neglect to make sure they share their long term goals and plans for themselves. Again, something I think many of us can relate to.

I love that the conflict in this particular story was never a question of how Hannah and Elliott felt about each other. I much prefer stories where the couple is solid, and the conflict comes from an outside source. While *technically* their issues in this book were of their own making, their love for each other was never in doubt. That makes the resolution and HEA so much stronger in my mind, since the basis of the HEA wasn’t in jeopardy. ❤

What I didn’t Love:

I really did understand how the problem that Hannah and Elliott had could happen. I understood the reasons why each of them thought they way they did, and how they managed to miss actually SAYING it in a conversation about their future. What I didn’t quite feel right about was the resolution. It ended the only way it could/should, really, but I feel like one of the two reasons Elliott had for wanting to make the change he did wasn’t addressed. I was fine with how the business side of things worked out, but his personal reasons — the feelings from his childhood and with his mother — I think they got pushed aside in his effort to compromise. And I get it, love is full of compromise… but I was sad that the wonder and joy and “energy” he was craving seemed to be left out of the equation. And yes, I realize I’m feeling sad on behalf of a fictional character… but I blame that on both Nancy and Lacey for making me care, lol.

Final Thoughts/Recommendations:

Overall, I was really happy to spend a little more time in Evergreen, and I think Lacey did a fantastic job continuing the story. Hannah and Elliott were a lovely couple to see get even stronger, and I was thrilled to see how all of my other friends were doing. The other stories happening with the townspeople, while we were focused on our main characters, added so much to the overall experience, and gave them all so much more depth and interest. I can’t wait to see the movie version of this story, now! If you love sweet love, small-town friends & family, magical Christmas merriment, and smiling til your cheeks hurt… I highly recommend that you spend a little time in Evergreen. ❤

Lacey Baker Info
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Book Buy Links
Bookshop.org (affiliate link)| Amazon | B&N | Kobo


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