A Family Under the Christmas Tree – Terri Reed – Howard Books – Published 4 October 2016
In this heartwarming tale set during the Christmas season, a single father and a fashion photographer are brought together by a young boy and a mischievous Bernese mountain dog—but first they must learn to set aside their differences if they are willing to let their relationship bloom.
David Murphy never knew much about kids. But when his brother dies unexpectedly, David is granted custody of his six-year-old nephew, Troy, who he’s only seen once a year since he was born. He already has his hands full running his business, and he has no idea how to help the grieving boy. When Troy runs off one day, David finds him at a park playing with an adorable and rambunctious Bernese mountain dog—who leads him to Sophie.
Sophie Griffith has spent her life travelling around the world as a photojournalist. She has never stayed in one place for long, and her new assignment—helping her grandmother for a few weeks—is just temporary. Once Christmas day comes, Sophie is off the hook and can leave for a new adventure. Caring for her grandmother is a piece of cake—but caring for her new Bernese mountain dog, Riggs, is a different story. It doesn’t help that Riggs strikes up a friendship with a lost little boy one day at the park—and leads her to David.
Neither David nor Sophie have time for romance. But as they spend more time together, they start falling for each other even though they know it can’t go anywhere. Sophie will be gone after Christmas, and the last thing David needs is another distraction as he tries to comfort Troy. But as their faith and growing love for the boy and dog unites them, they wonder whether it’s more than a holiday romance…and maybe Troy might finally get his Christmas wish for a family.
A Family Under The Christmas Tree is the perfect book for winter (and thanks to living in the Southern Hemisphere and an advanced copy, everything was timed perfectly so that I could enjoy this in the cold months of the year). I adore that cover, especially that cute Bernese you see, who I would like to steal and take home. And I loved the setting, a wintry, snowy Washington. The romance was very sweet and the family aspects heartbreaking, all of which combined to create a charming and enjoyable novel.
Sophie is visiting her grandmother, staying for Christmas only. She is a photographer with a career that is blooming, so she doesn’t have much time for family or holidays, and she especially doesn’t have time for creating a family of her own. Which is why she is more than a little surprised to be so attracted to her grandmother’s neighbour, David. David has recently taken in his nephew after the tragic loss of his brother and sister-in-law. The little family has been shaken by the tragedy and David is struggling to balance work, a home and a rambunctious little boy. Sophie and her grandmother step in to help out and David, too, is shocked to be fighting off attraction to the beautiful photographer. He knows Sophie is leaving soon and can’t risk any further damage to his or his nephew’s heart.
The attraction between David and Sophie starts from the very first page, the first time they meet. It is instant and plentiful. But there are many obstacles in the way of Sophie and David ever having a happily ever after. Like their reluctance to find love, Sophie’s job, Troy and David’s grief and both David and Sophie’s own past experiences with family and love. Despite the instantaneous nature of their attraction, I loved how their relationship slowly blossomed (and sometimes stuttered). They have a lot to work out both individually and together.
Along with Sophie and David there are a handful of other, excellent characters, especially young Troy, who is a beautiful little boy and keeps David running madly after him. Between his and Riggs’ (the Bernese puppy) antics, there is a wonderful humour that offsets the sadness of Troy’s loss. Sophie’s grandmother and her friend are also wonderful additions to the story.
And, of course, there are all the perfect wintry activities that provide a wonderful background to the romance and family story, including ice skating, Christmas tree shopping, Christmas parades. It gave the book a cozy, feel-good vibe, perfectly adding to this story of love, grief, Christmas and family.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Christian fiction.
Themes: Christmas, family, grief, romance, grandmothers, death, dogs, children, photography.
Published: 4 September 2016 by Howard Books.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 288 pages.