Genre

Holiday Romantic Comedy

Audience

Adult

Author’s Worldview

Catholic

Year Published

2014

Themes

romance, family, gifts, vocation, Christmas, work ethics, dignity, grief, loss, change

 

Reviewed by

M.S. Ocampo

Why would a single mom who’s getting her PhD in psychology work for a department store during the holiday season? The answer is more compelling than you think.

There’s a lot about this book that reminds me of the Hallmark Channel holiday rom-coms. You have a single mom working in a Santa Monica department store after she gets laid off her therapy job with children. There’s the charming love interest, the grownup “mean girl” rivals, and quirky coworkers. What makes this book Catholic, however, is that there’s also a kindly priest who plays a supporting role in this story. Likewise, the theme of gift giving leads to spiritual insights into true gifts.

Jonquil Bloom is quite happy working at Children’s Home where she can develop her research project about “The Psychodynamics of Gift-Giving.” However, due to budget cuts, Jonquil gets laid off from work. She assures her son Billy that she can find employment at a local department store, it being the Christmas season. Jonquil starts at the perfume department, but customers store wide find value in her gift suggestions. Soon, she gets promoted to Holiday Gift Counselor, a dream come true.

Of course, having this new job comes with a whole new set of problems. Jonquil is “highly encouraged” to promote products sold at the department store. A conflict arises with the head buyer who doubts her loyalty to the store. The head buyer and Jonquil’s former boss at Children’s Home are the grownup “mean girls” who constantly question Jonquil’s work ethic and skills.

On top of that, Jonquil is dealing with the lingering grief of her husband’s death. Her husband died in a tragic fire accident seven months before Billy was born and ever since then, Jonquil has been avoidant of new romantic relationships. She’s also avoidant of owning a new pet, as the family dog also died in the fire. 

However, shortly after taking on the new department store job, Jonquil begins a romance with a construction manager. She also has a supportive circle of friends. Father Tim Moran, a retired parish priest, is described as being practically family to her. She also has friends from her old job at the Children’s Home as well as a friend who works with her in the department store. Jonquil’s son, Billy, is finding his own special talent in taking care of animals. It starts with him pet-sitting for one of his neighbors and develops into his own little business.

Jonquil’s hardworking ethic is quite admirable and relatable. Billy is a very precocious, adorable child. And the romance between Jonquil and the construction manager is a very sweet slow burn. Her new love is an honorable, forthright man who starts out as just a friend of the family, but his reliability and handsome demeanor are very endearing qualities.

I recommend this book for anyone who enjoys a cozy, nostalgic holiday read.

North Pacific: A Story of Life, Love, Suffering, and Grace by Michael Steffan

Joseph & Miku’s love was already illegal. Then WWII began. Now home, disabled, and questioning God’s love, he still searches for her.

Live and Let Bite Review by Declan Finn

The battle with the demons of San Francisco left Marco broken and now Amanda isn’t answering his messages.

Good to the Last Drop by Declan Finn

Marco thought his problems were over when he took on the vampire council, until he gets bit by a werewolf. Will this ruin things with his vampire girlfriend?

The Wind That Shakes The Corn: Memoirs of a Scots Irish Woman by Kaye Park Hinckley

Sold into slavery on her wedding night, an 18th-century Irishwoman struggles to free herself from her thirst for vengeance.

The Grace Crasher by Mara Faro

The Grace Crasher is the ecumenical romantic dramedy that everyone who has ever had family members in split churches needs to read.

A World Such As Heaven Intended

Amara didn’t intend to fall in love with a Union soldier. Is love even possible in her war-torn world?

Shadow of the Bear by Regina Doman

An intriguing story that will enchant with a sweet romance and take you on a thrill ride through the Gothic version of modern-day New York City.

Books for Lent

Deepen your Lenten reflection with these stories of repentance and forgiveness

Cinderella by Charles Perrault

The true story of the Catholic saint who inspired the myth of Cinderella

Summer at West Castle By Theresa Linden

Is God really leading Caitlyn to bad boy Jarret?

Island of Miracles by Amy Schisler

When she finds out her husband had a whole other set of wife and kids Kate starts over in a small beach town.

Ornamental Graces by Carolyn Astfalk

A great romantic drama about how authentic love can restore life to two people who have been hurt in the past.

The Lion’s Heart by Dena Hunt

A deep, honest story of emotional struggle, temptation, and sacrifice.

Julia’s Gifts by Ellen Gable

A story of love and God’s providence in times of war.

In Pieces by Rhonda Ortiz

Is a marriage without love the only way to save Molly Chase’s reputation?

Books to Pray With, March: For the New Martyrs

Every month in 2024 Pope Francis has a monthly prayer intention. Every month we will release a book list that will draw your heart and soul deeper into prayer on these topics.

Gifts Visible and Invisible

If you are looking for a cozy read to get into the Christmas cheer, this collection has it all.

Best Books of 2022

Our favorite book finds of the year!

For Eden’s Sake by T.M. Gaouette

Life is precious whether it’s planned or not.

Our Lady of the Roses by Janice Lane Palko

Could Rome spark romance between a fashionista and an inventor-engineer?