I am *that* girl.
I am the one who doesn’t allow any Christmas in her world until after I’ve eaten copious amounts of turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce. I’m in the US and since our Thanksgiving falls at the end of November, I am a stickler for it being the magic door that leads into Christmas. I mean, otherwise, what is the point of ending the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade with good ole St. Nick if that isn’t the entire point???
However my exception to this is Hallmark Christmas movies. I am a sucker for them 12 months out of the year. Even so, I hadn’t yet actually read a Hallmark Publishing story. I’m not exactly sure why, but I just never picked one up. Until Wrapped Up In Christmas Joy. It pulled me in based on the blurb because one of my absolute most favorite Hallmark Christmas movies is not, in fact a romance, but a story about a soldier who was deployed to the Middle East and killed on Christmas Eve. And since his death his family stopped celebrating Christmas… even though they had another child at home who then internalized this as being a sign she wasn’t enough for her family to celebrate the season for her. Their son then makes a special, supernatural appearance at Christmas and teaches them some life lessons. It’s called A Christmas Visitor and if you have never seen it, please do.
But I digress.
So because of my favorite Hallmark Christmas movie, when reading the blurb this drew me in. And, let’s not forget your girl has a special affinity for broken boys and Oh Emm Gee is our Cole broken. And now our dude drew the short straw and is now gonna be Santa in the Christmas parade. Yup, there’s that.
But even more than just the well-loved Grinch turned Elf trope, is the depth of the story. While Cole was on his last deployment he kept a journal. A very, very detailed and explicit recount of the horrors of war and the traumatic events he lived through. It was a deeply personal and emotional memoir. One he… accidentally donated.
And one that Sophie, the town quilting queen, stumbles across. She finds it as she is sorting books that have been donated and, as the daughter of a veteran herself, connected immediately with the author of the journal and knows she needs to return it to him.
(Side note: gonna gush about another of my beloved Hallmark movies that this book reminded me of and that’s The Christmas Card. Just go watch and thank me later)
The problem is that the nightmare of war has scarred Cole so deeply that he doesn’t feel like he is deserving of the love Sophie tries to pour on him. And let me just say that Sophie is one of the single most caring and kindhearted characters I’ve ever met despite her being subjected to a hard family life.
Wrapped Up In Christmas Joy is an excellent story of redemption, the healing power of love, with a dusting of the author’s faith shared lightly, but clearly. This is a fabulous entrance to the holiday season for everyone who loves the wholesome Christmas romances the Hallmark Network has mastered.