Thursday, December 18, 2014

A Sweet Montana Christmas by Roxanne Snopek

A Sweet Montana Christmas* * * *

Melinda Sweet loved her husband before she learned of his wealth and she loves him still, despite the fact that it’s gone. Unfortunately, while she knows the collapse of his Chicago financial services business had nothing to do with him, he believes otherwise. His upbeat adjustment to their new – and temporary – life on his grandfather’s rundown honey farm is a foil to cover the burden of failure. She wasn’t expecting to throw – in five weeks – the traditional Sweet Christmas Open House, but it’s a good earning opportunity and how hard could it be?

Austin Sweet is determined to make his wife proud of him again. But he also wants to erase the sting of shame he feels from his parents, to whom he owes a debt of gratitude for arranging for this caretaking job. Getting paid to fix up this disaster is better than living in their basement, sure. But what does he know about bees? Or fixing broken plumbing? Or cleaning a chimney?

But when Austin’s grandfather gives him the farm as a Christmas gift, there’s only one response. Accepting the gift will secure a future that will make his wife even more unhappy than he already is. Refusing the gift will finalize the rift between him and his family, but he’d rather lose them than Melinda. Then he discovers she’s spared him the choice. Austin’s not-so-Sweet side rears up as he determines that he’s done trying to make everyone happy. He’ll get his wife back, no matter what. And they’ll decide their future together.


Between the loss of Austin’s business and Melinda’s long hours at the hospital, communication between them completely breaks down, leading to their separation.  The aftermath lands them both in Montana; Melinda with her mom and Austin on his grandfather’s old farm.   Austin feels that he irreparably damaged their marriage so needless to say he is shocked when Melinda shows up at his grandfather’s farm, a few months after their separation, with a very, very unexpected surprise.  

As they navigate a new stage of their relationship, they work together to clean up the farmhouse and get it ready for sale in the spring.  At least that’s Melinda’s plan.  Austin isn’t so sure he wants to leave.  He’s finding that the work on the honey farm agrees with him and he could stay there for the long haul. Together they’ll have to decide their plans for the future if those plans include each other.

At first I had a hard time empathizing with Austin’s melancholy repetition of, “A husband provides.”  He feels that he failed his wife because he couldn’t provide for her financially, hence (according to him) breaking up his marriage.  It’s such a traditional, old fashioned and sexist way to look at things and it drove me slightly batty.  But other than that, Austin did not come across as sexist in any other way. He was actually pretty fantastic.  In the end the moral is that they are equals in their relationship.  They provide for each other.  Providing for their family isn’t something that Austin should ever have to shoulder alone.

Melinda was an interesting heroine.  She was singularly focused on her career; a trait I often admire in female characters.  Unfortunately, her focus is so narrow that she is, at first, unwilling to even consider any other options.  It was the unwillingness to consider those options that was frustrating.  But just as Austin has to learn that they are a team, in some ways Melinda has to learn the same thing. 

And that is what I enjoyed most about this book.  The fact there isn’t only one answer to obtain happiness.  There is no right or wrong answer to their situation.  The point is that together they are a team and together they can decide what is best for them and their future.   

This was a great addition to my winter reading.  It fulfilled a number of traits I’ve been looking for in adult romance. 

Christmas story?  Check. 

Married couple?  Check. 

Montana setting?  Check.
Country living? Check

That last one…As Austin and Melinda bust ass renovating the old farmhouse and farm, I found myself feeling extremely jealous.  Snopek tells their story in such a way that made all their hard work look exciting and fulfilling without romanticizing it or making it seem easy.  I wanted to throw a “For Sale” sign up in my front yard and start scouring the ads for remote farmhouses in Montana.  To be fair, this is on the bucket list for me and the Executive Officer but reading A Sweet Montana Christmas made me want it RIGHT NOW!

This was my first Roxanne Snopek book and I enjoyed it so much that I will be reading her other books as soon as possible.    If you are looking for a satisfying Christmas read this month, I highly recommend Melinda and Austin Sweet’s story.


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