Saturday, December 14, 2013

Book review: Unexpected Gifts by Elena Aitken

If you haven't already guessed, I suffer from O.C.D. Obsessive Christmas Disorder, which is very unfortunate given the fact that the Christmas spirit in the country where I live is next to nil, especially this year. This is one of the main reasons why I want to leave this place and move somewhere else, where people truly love and feel Christmas in their hearts.

So what do I do to get into the Christmas spirit while I'm still living here? I read Christmas related books, obviously (and sometimes I write them, too - LOL)! I've started reading a few stories and this one I'm writing the review for is one I really wanted to share with you, followers, because it's really the perfect Christmas story to get ready for Christmas. As a bonus, it's free so I really think you should give it a chance.
Unexpected Gifts is the first book in the Castle Mountain Lodge series, but it's a standalone and from the short excerpt of book two, it's clear that each book has its own characters and the only connection is the setting - the Castle Mountain Lodge resort - and some of the characters, basically the people who work in the resort.

The first chapter pulled me in immediately. We meet Andi, a party planner, and Eva, her funny business partner and friend, while they're at work. Andi is having a hard time surviving the festivities, since she's trying to recover from her ex dumping her after she lost their baby. She's broken and not exactly in the mood for Christmas celebration and, as the last straw, her father calls her to inform her last minute that they will not be celebrating Christmas with her, as his new wife has organized a trip to Disneyworld for their 3-year-old twins. In order to avoid spending Christmas alone, brooding over her life and all that she's lost, Andi accepts an invitation that the Castle Mountain Lodge resort sent to their office. After all, spending a few days in a mountain resort, reading a book and enjoying the snow can be quite inviting.

Enters Colin. He's Canadian too, just like Andi, but has been living in the Caribbeans for the last five years, expanding his business and putting it before anything else. Scarred by a serious relationship that didn't end too well, the last thing he wants is to get involved with someone else. Back in Canada, he's determined to enjoy the true Christmas spirit, in the Canadian way: snow, ice-skating, mountains, Christmas trees and all that he's missed over the last five years. So he gets a room in the Castle Mountain Lodge and he gets there just in time to find a desperate Andi talking to the resort manager. Apparently, her reservation hasn't been confirmed and they're completely booked for the holidays so Andi can either go back to the city (in the middle of a snow blizzard) or sleep on a couch until the morning, when roads will be clear.

When Andi turns back to check the weather conditions outside, she meets Colin's stare and something clicks: They know each other. Colin was an old school friend of Andi's ex, Blaine, and they met some time ago, when Blaine took her to the Caribbeans and they had dinner with Colin. Ever the gentleman, Colin offers her to stay in his villa, which has three bedrooms and two bathrooms, so plenty of space without the awkwardness of having to spend time in the same room as a stranger.

Well, as you may have guessed, Andi accepts and everything changes, for both of them. I won't tell you more, though, because it would spoil the fun. You've got to go download it and enjoy their story.
I really liked the story. It's a beautiful romance without the graphic sex scenes, which I've come to realize it's quite hard to find nowadays. I guess this is what helped me enjoy this book so much, apart from the lovely and warm Christmas atmosphere. I know I will sound like a prude, but sometimes the graphic sex scenes that make other readers rate a book 5 stars, are a turn-off for me. They leave nothing to imagination and sometimes distract me from the story and the whole feel. I've come across books where I only wanted to skip ahead because I felt those scenes brought nothing to the story itself and were kind of annoying. I understand the need for them when the story requires them, I've got nothing against that, but reading so many books by indie authors recently I've come to realize that some authors add graphic sex scenes just because. I've even come across some books that mainly had no plot but lots of sex scenes just to keep the word count high - know what I mean? I think that's rather disappointing. Maybe it's because I myself like writing sweet romance, where feelings and emotions are the main theme, not sex. Anyway, this being stated, the chemistry in the story is really strong and the author has a very good way of creating it with clean scenes. I didn't feel the need for sex scenes to feel the connection between Andi and Colin and I really enjoyed reading their story.

I loved the setting. It was described perfectly and I could see the whole resort and the beautiful Canadian landscape right in front of my eyes. It warmed my heart and made me feel as if I was actually in the book. I could almost feel the snow crunch!

The author has a very good way of pulling the reader into the story and keeping the interest up. I couldn't wait to read more and at the same time I didn't want it to be over. This is actually the main reason why I didn't rate this book 5 shamrocks; when it ended, I felt a little disappointed because I wanted to read more about Andi and Colin and I immediately read the excerpt from the second book to understand if I'd be getting more of them. But from what I could read, I'm afraid I won't. Which in a way is good, because I hate cliffhangers, but a few more chapters about them would have been nice. I will definitely be reading more from this author.

Since we are getting closer to Christmas, I recommend you go download this book, like, right now. For one thing, it's free on Amazon and trust me, you will definitely be feeling a little more Christmassy after reading it. And, as far as I'm concerned, I'd really like to get on a plane and go find this Castle Mountain Lodge resort right now; it sounds the perfect place to be (and I wouldn't mind stumbling into Colin, while I'm there!)

Have you read Unexpected Gifts already? Leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it.

2 commenti:

  1. Elena Aitken12/14/2013 7:40 PM

    Thank you so much for the lovely review. I'm so glad you enjoyed Unexpected Gifts.
    I have to tell you...a place like that really does exist in the Canadian Rockies. But I can't promise a Colin. ;)

  2. oh well,you can't have it all,can you?! The place alone would be worth the trip right now! :)