BOOK REVIEW + EXCERPT: Winter at the Beach by Sheila Roberts (Cozy Romance)

Moonlight Harbor #2
Sheila Roberts

Genre:  Women’s Fiction
Publisher: Harlequin/Mira
Publication Date:  October 23, 2018
Number of Pages: 384

Take a wintry trip to the harbor in this holiday novel. The town of Moonlight Harbor needs to convince tourists that the beach is still the place to be—even when the sunshine goes south for the winter. Jenna Jones, new proprietor of The Driftwood Inn, has the perfect idea: a holiday festival called Seaside with Santa. Jenna is happy to throw herself into planning the event. With all the decorating, preparation and extra reservations at the inn because of the festival—and with two wonderful but very different men hoping to claim more of her time and her heart—Jenna is busy. Busy, but happy. Even with her troublesome ex in the picture, life feels as close to perfect as she’s ever known. Until the weather turns her festival into a farce. Suddenly Mother Nature is not only raining on Jenna’s parade, the old bat’s trying to blow the floats and their princesses out to sea. Soon everyone is without power and the road out of town is blocked. And Jenna has a full motel. After the generator conks out, she’s not so sure she and her guests will make it through to the New Year in one piece. But with a little pulling together and a lot of holiday spirit, everyone might find that life—and Christmas—is always good at the beach.

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

Once again, this is another fabulous book by Sheila Roberts and a solid sequel to the series!

I was pleasantly surprised to see that the story still focused primarily on Jenna rather than make her an outlier while a previous secondary character took the spotlight, as was the case with the author’s Icicle Falls series. But this decision feels fitting as Jenna’s drive and enthusiasm continue to inspire, showcasing just how important this community has become to her as well as the hotel’s welfare. In hindsight, it seems silly that the town wouldn’t have already had a holiday festival available to drive tourism during the winter, but whether she thinks so or not, Jenna has truly cemented herself as a leader that will definitely put Moonlight Harbor on the map! They need her just as much as she needs them, and I can’t wait to read more!

There are plenty of tear-jerking moments, but I love how the author is able to find the humor in it all without losing the sense of compassion we all need to feel in order to face such tragic circumstances. The story never loses its ability to convey a sense of hope that powerfully comes from the understanding of those who have also experienced similar situations if not worse. And in the author’s deft hands, these fictional characters become masterfully relatable and delightfully engaging. 

Happy endings come together in a heartwarming tapestry that makes this a perfect selection to curl up with this season! Plus, the included recipes will set your mouth-watering and have firing up the oven to bake up all those cookies just in time for Santa! 

Jenna Jones, who manages a vintage motel, the Driftwood Inn, is sure her idea for a holiday festival will bring business to her Washington coast beach town of Moonlight Harbor. Let’s see how her proposal goes over with the Moonlight Harbor Chamber of Commerce…

 “Okay, that takes care of old business,” Brody said. “Now, I think Jenna has some new business.”
Oh, boy. She could hardly wait to see what Susan would have to say about this.
She cleared her throat. “Actually, I have a suggestion for a way to bring down more visitors during our slow time.”
“We’re all for that,” said Patricia Whiteside.
Susan clamped her thin lips together and gave Jenna a look that dared her, the newbie, to come up with something.
Jenna’s nervous twitch put in an appearance. Don’t blink. She blinked one last time and cleared her throat again. “Well, I was just thinking about other towns I’ve visited in the past and one that came to mind was Icicle Falls.”
Susan rolled her eyes. “The cheesy German town.”
“A lot of people find it charming,” Jenna said. “It’s awfully pretty, and they’ve done a great job of making themselves as authentic as possible. They always have something going to get people up there. In fact, I did some research online. They have festivals all year long, including a chocolate festival. Their tree-lighting ceremonies on the weekends in December bring in thou- sands of people.”
“So, are you proposing we have a tree-lighting ceremony?” Susan mocked.
“No, but I am proposing we have a holiday festival.”
“We just had a festival in August in case you forgot,” Susan said snidely.
What was with this woman anyway? The town had done a good deed by putting on a festival to help Jenna raise money to restore the Driftwood after she experienced a financial setback. It had been such a success that the chamber had decided to make the Blue Moon Festival a tradition, with proceeds going to help other businesses in town in need of assistance. Jenna had benefited and other local businesses would as well, and Susan resented it? She was a crab in the pot. If she couldn’t succeed, she didn’t want anyone else to, either. And everyone knew her shop wasn’t doing that well, especially now that Courtney was selling her own designs over at the Oyster Inn.
Well, pooh on her. Jenna handed papers to both Tyrella and Brody to start passing around the table.
 “People love festivals. Remember how many came down for the Blue Moon one?”
“That was in the summer,” Susan reminded her.
“I know. But people also love holiday festivals. We’re looking for ways to get visitors down here in the winter. Why not put together a giant holiday party in Moonlight Harbor?”
Patricia Whiteside was reading Jenna’s handout. “Seaside with Santa, that’s cute. And I like all the suggestions you’ve made for activities. I really like the idea of making use of the pier.”
“The weekend before Christmas?” Susan objected, frowning at her handout. “Who’s going to want to come to something then? People will be getting ready to go see family, and they’ll be finishing up their shopping.”
“Why shouldn’t they finish it here?” Jenna argued. “We have all kinds of cute shops. We have great places for them to stay while they shop and plenty of restau- rants where they can eat. They may even want to stay here for the holidays. All we need is an event to lure them down. A festival could do it. And who doesn’t like a parade? Look how many people turn out for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.”
“Look at the floats they have in that parade,” Susan countered. “What sort of floats would we be able to put together down here?”
“Okay, maybe not the most impressive parade ever,” Jenna admitted, “but I bet we could come up with some- thing.”
“I could get some of my employees to dress up as mermaids,” said Kiki, “and stick ’em on a flatbed truck strung with fake seaweed.” She grinned, clearly taken with her idea.
“We need more for our Moonlight Harbor Queen and her princesses to do,” put in Nora. “They love riding in those old convertibles. You’ll let us use your vintage Caddy, right, Ellis?”
“Well…” Ellis hesitated. “If it rains…”
“Which it probably will,” said Susan. “Come on, people, be practical. You know what it’s like down here in the winter, all wind and rain.”
Patricia pooh-poohed that objection. “We’ve survived plenty of storms.”
“Well, I think it’s a bad idea,” Susan said, scowling across the table at Jenna.
Maybe it was. Jenna’s left eye began to twitch.
“I think it sounds great,” said Elizabeth MacDowell. She and her twin sister, K.J., were new members of the chamber. They’d opened their arts and crafts store, Crafty Just Cuz, in September, and it was already one of Jenna’s favorite places to hang out.
“We do need more business in the winter,” said Cindy Redmond. “There’s no getting around it. And doing something for the holidays could be fun. I say we give it a try,” she added, and Jenna’s eye stopped twitching.
“We’d have to get moving right away,” Nora said, pulling another sheet of paper from her yellow tablet. “Who can help?”
“I can,” said Ellis.
“Me, too,” Brody said, smiling at Jenna. “Jenna, it’s your idea. You’ll have to chair the committee.”
“Me?” she squeaked. Not that she couldn’t take charge. She was a firstborn, and Responsibility was her middle name. (Although her sister, Celeste, would probably argue that her middle name was Bossy.) She didn’t have a problem with rolling up her sleeves and getting to work, but she also didn’t want to offend old- timers like Susan Frank. “I’m sure someone else…” she began.
“Your idea, you have to do it,” Susan goaded.
Jenna raised her chin. “I can do it.” She’d survived rehabbing the Driftwood Inn. How much harder could it be to organize a festival?
In three months. Blink. Blink, blink, blink.
“Do I have a motion that we sponsor a Seaside with Santa Festival for the weekend before Christmas?” Brody asked.
“So moved,” said Ellis. “I’m with you, kid,” he told Jenna.
“I’ll second,” Nora said and reached across the back of Tyrella’s chair to give Jenna’s shoulder an encouraging pat.
“All in favor?” Brody asked.
“Aye,” chorused almost everyone.
“Nay,” Susan Frank said. “I’m telling you all, this is a bad idea. Make sure you put that in the minutes,” she told Cindy.
“Motion carries,” said Brody. He smiled down at Jenna. “Looks like we’re going to be putting on a holiday bash.”
“Holiday disaster,” Susan grumbled from her side of the table.
What did Susan know? Blink, blink, blink.

USA Today best-selling author Sheila Roberts has seen over fifty books, both fiction and non-fiction in print. Her novels have appeared in many different languages and been made into movies for both the Lifetime and Hallmark Channels. She writes about things near and dear to women’s hearts – love, friendship, family and chocolate.

Many thanks to Pump Up Your Book Virtual Blog Tours and Sheila Roberts! It is always a pleasure reading, reviewing, and hosting! And be sure to check out the other stops on the tour for more opinions and author extras!

Monday, October 22

Book Feature & Tour Kickoff at PUYB Virtual Book Club

Interview at Pump Up Your Book

Tuesday, October 23

Book Feature at I’m Shelf-ish

Wednesday, October 24

Interview at The Writer’s Life

Monday, October 29

Interview at Literarily Speaking

Wednesday, October 31

Book Teaser Feature at PUYB Book Teasers

Monday, November 5

Interview at Blogger News Net

Tuesday, November 6

Book Feature at What the Cat Read

Wednesday, November 7

Book Review at Sefina Hawke’s Books

Thursday, November 8

Interview at Straight From the Author’s Mouth

Friday, November 9

Book Feature at What Is That Book About

Monday, November 12

Book Review at Sheila’s Guests and Reviews

Tuesday, November 13

Character Interview at Pimp That Character

Wednesday, November 14

Book Feature at Syllables of Swathi

Thursday, November 15

Interview at The Literary Nook

Friday, November 16

Guest Blogging at Lori’s Reading Corner

Monday, November 19

Book Feature at The Bookworm Lodge

Tuesday, November 20

Book Feature at Dawn’s Reading Nook

Wednesday, November 21

Book Feature at The Avid Reader

Monday, November 26

Book Review at Moonlight Rendezvous

Wednesday, November 28

Book Feature at T’s Stuff

Book Feature at I’m All About Books

Friday, November 30

Book Review at Book by Book

Monday, December 3

Book Review at Books for Books

Tuesday, December 4

Character Interview at Blogging Authors

Wednesday, December 5

Book Feature at Handcrafted Reviews

Thursday, December 6

Book Feature at Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews

Friday, December 7

Book Feature at Nicole’s Book Musings

Monday, December 10

Book Feature at Reviews by Crystal

Wednesday, December 12

Book Review at Bri’s Book Nook

Thursday, December 13

Book Review at That’s What She’s Reading

Monday, December 17

Book Review at Simply Selina

Tuesday, December 18

Book Review at A Room Without Books is Empty

Wednesday, December 19

Book Review at The Book Connection

Thursday, December 20

Book Review at Literarily Speaking

Friday, December 21

Book Review at Laura’s Interests

Book Review at Stacking My Bookshelf

Interview at Book Marketing Buzz


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