Widow Noel Martin never breaks promises, and she promised her kids they'd have Christmas at her childhood home in Connecticut. But driving across country takes money. Noel is broke when a snowstorm blows them into a tiny Minnesota cafe owned by a man who can change her mind. She accepts his offer of a job. Despite her attraction to him, she makes it clear she is only temporary help.
Dan Longstreet isn't adopting any more strays, but he needs a waitress. Dan works so hard to make his cafe a success, he doesn't have time for love. Though Noel's slender blonde beauty stuns him and her two adorable children tug at his heart, he denies how they threaten to change his life.
When tragedy strikes, their new-found love is the first victim. Noel can't stay and Dan can't leave. Will their journey be the gift that reunites them?
“Is that job still open?”Review:
“I need a waitress.” His rich voice woke tingles of awareness that she’d forgotten, or maybe never knew.
“Is that a yes or a no?” she asked impatiently. These unfamiliar feelings were scary and unwelcome. She was too tired to be diplomatic and this job was too important.
“What are you going to do with them?” He jutted his chin toward her children.
“I, I d-d-don’t know,” Noel stammered before she slumped onto the nearest stool. Leaning forward onto her elbows, she looked at her clasped hands. “I didn’t plan that far.”
Noel watched his long, strong fingers dexterously polish another glass. His wide palms held the heavy restaurant-ware like fine china. He had nice hands, a gentle touch. Instinct murmured he’d be as careful with a woman.
“I guess I should move on. I…”
“Could keep the kids next to the kitchen, there’s a place there. Then if they needed you, you’d be right close.” His deep voice was like an angel’s song.
JOURNEY OF THE MAGI is a contemporary romance set in a small American town in Minnesota. This upbeat love story is exactly the sort of reading material I look for when I'm craving that warm holiday buzz. I adored the way Dan and Noel were so sweet together, especially the way they speak to one another.
The hero, Dan Longstreet, owns a Cheers-style bar/restaurant, which is pretty clearly at the heart of the small community. People go there to socialize, to connect, resulting in a supporting cast of interesting secondary characters who pass through the story as it progresses. The number of secondary characters was more than I like for a story of this length, but I found that the changing faces really fit with the setting.
Dan isn't a classically handsome hero, but his eyes are wonderfully described as being soulful and very easy to envision. His kind and generous nature is remarkable and shown in many ways. It is clear right from the start that the hero is a soft touch as he wanders around grumbling, "I'm done taking in strays." But he then proceeds to take in the heroine and her two young children out of a snow storm and later a stray dog living in the alley behind his establishment. His giving nature is again demonstrated when he buys the heroine new tires with the money he intended to use for an insurance payment.
Noel Martin is a protective mother to her two children: 6-year-old Holly and baby Nicolas. She is a widow of a truck driver who was killed in an accident, leaving his family destitute since he didn't pay his life insurance. She has decided to take her children across the country to the house her grandparents left her along with the promise that they'll be home for Christmas. The heroine's marriage was loveless and so she's more than a little starved for affection. Noel's doubts serve as the source for internal conflict as she tries to balance her attraction to Dan with her promise to her kids. External conflict comes in the form of a tragic event close to the conclusion.
All matters of storytelling are deftly handled. If I have a complaint, it's that the heroine's children were too good to be believed. Since this is a Christmas tale, I shall assume they are tiny angels and move along.
Barbara Edwards brings the right blend of humanity and harmony to the table to produce a Christmas tale that is inspiring without being sappy. The theme of "home for the holidays" is spot on in its touching message that home isn't a place but rather being with the people you love. JOURNEY OF THE MAGI hits all of the right notes for what is a truly wonderful seasonal story of love and sacrifice.
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I'm Barbara Edwards and a native New Englander. I'm a graduate of the University of Hartford with a Master's degree in Public Administration. I write poetry for myself and novels when I need to tell a longer tale. I'm fascinated by the past so naturally turned to writing historical romance. The dark paranormal stories evolve from nightmares. The romance comes from my belief in people's basic goodness and longing for love.
I lived in Florida for several years and am past president of the Central Florida Romance Writers and a member of Romance Writers of America.
When I returned to Connecticut, I founded the Charter Oak Romance Writers, a Chapter of Romance Writers of America, along with several close friends.
My husband is a retired Police Sergeant. We share an interest Civil War re-enacting and travel the Eastern states to participate in events. I love visiting museums, galleries and battle sites, gathering information for my stories.
I taught Romance Writing at Manchester Community college for three years.
I'm fond of gardening and growing antique roses with limited success.
Most of my exercise is when my Belgian Shepherd, Dixie, demands a walk.