What can I say, "Sugar Pine Trail" just gives me the feels! I love this book; it got me hooked from the first line and the characters are just delightful. The seventh installment to RaeAnne Thayne's "Haven Point" series brings former army pilot James Caine and Haven Point's Head Librarian Julia Winston together amidst two boys' family crisis, haughty cats, the Caines' onslaught and well-meaning friends.
Told from Jamie and Julia's POVs, the story gives us insight into the characters; depicting their personalities and past scars that influenced their life. Their past hurt is equally heartbreaking but not dramatized, making the whole tragedy raw and real even after all these years. I also love how the attraction between them develops steadily from crush (on Julia's part) and curiosity (on Jamie's part) into something more simply by seemingly small gestures; with a little help from her foster children.
The kids are just so adorable. I think this is the first time I overlook the pets in a book in favor of the tykes only! How the author makes this makeshift family doing mundane things into something interesting just delight me.
Which makes the shift in the story, while predicted, no less heartbreaking. Heaping it on top of one another to build the climax of the story is brilliant yet pretty harsh. Again, all this done in deliberate way, no major drama or over the top tantrum. My heart was twisted every which way yet I enjoy every moment of it as I smile, laugh, cry and sigh along with the characters.
The biggest annoyance I got here is the hint of issues between Jamie and a couple of his brothers that isn't really resolved. I was sort of hoping there'd be that siblings' talk to clear the air. At least that's what I expected from a family like the Caines.
But even without that, "Sugar Pine Trail" is a perfect holiday read. It's a bundle of emotion that would entertain and give a warm fuzzy feeling. Although part of a series, it can also be read as a standalone. I know, because I haven't read the previous books yet I have no trouble at all savoring the story. In fact, after this I'll be sure to track back and grab the other books one by one!
An unlikely attraction brings comfort, joy and unforgettable romance this holiday season!
Librarian Julia Winston is ready to ditch the quiet existence she's been living. She's made a list of new things to experience, but falling for Jamie Caine, her sexy military pilot neighbor, isn't one of them. Julia's looking to conquer life, not become the heartbreaker's latest conquest. But when two young brothers wind up in Julia's care for the holidays, she'll take any help she can get—even Jamie's.
Happy to step in, Jamie reveals a side of himself that's much harder to resist. Not only is he fantastic with kids, he provides the strength Julia needs to tackle her list. She knows their temporary family can't last beyond the holidays, but the closer she gets to Jamie, the more she wonders if things could be this merry and bright forever…