Julianna's Reviews > Some Enchanted Season

Some Enchanted Season by Marilyn Pappano
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Nov 03, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: contemporary-romance, desert-island-keepers, holiday-stories, read-2008
Recommended for: Fans of Heartwarming Holiday Stories
Read in December, 2008

Reviewed for THC Reviews
"4.5 stars" Do you believe in Christmas miracles? Do you believe in guardian angels? My guess is that most readers of this book will either want to believe or have their beliefs reconfirmed after reading this enchanting tale. Marilyn Pappano has woven yet another magical Christmas story in the little town of Bethlehem, New York, a place that is watched over by a very special guardian angel. Some Enchanted Season is all about redemption and reconciliation, as well as the precious gift of love that was once lost but found again. I don't think I have ever read a romance novel in which the hero and heroine are already married at the beginning of the story, but are essentially estranged and must find their way back to the deep love they once shared. I wasn't sure if I would like it, because I don't usually care for a lot of relationship conflict in my romance and prefer to watch the couple go through all the ups and downs of new love. Well, I ended up thoroughly enjoying this captivating story that was filled with depth and emotion. While there was conflict, it didn't seem at all overdone due to past circumstances, and when misunderstandings arose they never lasted long. All things considered, I thought that Ross and Maggie communicated pretty well. It was also wonderful watching them rediscover their love that had never truly died but had been long buried under a heavy weight of ambition, anger, resentment and guilt. Having them reignite the passion that had marked the early years of their marriage, and learn that true love can overcome and forgive a world of hurt and past mistakes was equally wondrous.

Ross and Maggie were a very likable and relatable couple with a story that was very believable and realistic. The Ross readers see at the beginning of the book is the type of character that it would be very easy to dislike. He is a deeply ambitious man who became obsessed with money and power to the point that it blinded him to the truth of what's really important in life. Ross had also made a huge mistake and the revelation of that event is what led to the horrific accident that changed Maggie's existence forever. Normally this type of element in a romance novel would be a major turnoff for me, but as the story progressed, I found myself understanding quite well what had led Ross to this dark place, making him a very sympathetic character. Also, his intense remorse and self-loathing for his pasts sins, his fear of loosing Maggie forever which made him vulnerable, and the gentle, respectful way he treats Maggie all came together to make me truly like Ross, warts and all. The magic of Bethlehem has a way of healing the people who come there, and Ross was no exception. His change of heart from an almost Scrooge-like character as well as the emotional growth he exhibited were nothing short of miraculous and exceptionally heartwarming. Maggie was an incredibly strong woman who had endured the past half-dozen years of her contentious marriage as well as eleven months of painful surgeries, recovery, and rehab with her spirit, dignity and dreams for the future still mostly intact. I also thought that she had a very big heart to forgive Ross for all the past hurts he had caused and be willing to make a forever commitment to their marriage. Occasionally she was a bit short-tempered with him, which was pretty understandable given their history, but she was apologetic when appropriate. Maggie's growth and changes weren't quite as dramatic as Ross's, but she ultimately completed her healing process, both physically and emotionally in Bethlehem.

The town of Bethlehem really comes to life in such as way as to almost be a character unto itself, but I think that is owed more to it's gentle guardian angel, Noelle, and the host of warm, friendly townspeople who made me feel like I had just walked into a Currier & Ives painting. There are many carry-over characters from the first book of the series, Season for Miracles, including the hero and heroine of that story, Nathan and Emilie, and their family, as well as the Winchester sisters, two adorable old ladies who are like the world's best grandmothers to everyone, the Thomases, the Walkers, Harry and Maeve from the diner, and Holly McBride, the owner of the only inn in town. There was a little side plot about the Thomases desperate desire to have a baby, but so far being unable to, and a possible budding romance between Harry and Maeve. I will be interested to see if these stories are continued in future books in the series. Readers are also introduced to several new characters who will play major roles in other books. Dr. J. D. Grayson, a handsome psychiatrist, loves kids, left the big city for small-town life, and becomes the hero of the next book, Father To Be. Ross's cynical, cut-throat attorney, Tom Flynn, gets paired with the feisty Holly in book #5, First Kiss, and his personal assistant, Lynda Barone, becomes the heroine of book #6, Getting Lucky. Also, Leanne Wilson, the owner of the local baby boutique, becomes the heroine of book #9, Small Wonders. There are a lot of characters to keep track of, but each one lends something special to the story, and really helps to bring it to life.

I found Some Enchanted Season to be a sweet slice-of-life romance that was a near-perfect joy to read. The only thing that might have been better is if both characters had done a little less redundant inner protesting. For example, Ross would begin to wonder if all he really needed was a little moderation in his business dealings to have a life, but then would immediately discard the idea thinking that his business was his life. He repeated this line of thinking quite a few times, even though it was obvious that he was already beginning to make changes. Maggie also had similar repeated introspections about whether their marriage was truly over, but I guess maybe they just needed time to convince themselves of the truth. Otherwise the plot was tight, and even though the ending seemed a tad rushed, it was still satisfying. Since Ross and Maggie spent a lot of time holding each other at arms length because of fears and trying to convince themselves that a divorce was the only resolution to their problems, their relationship progressed at a languid but steady pace, but until they figure things out, there is some nice sexual tension in the form of intense memories of the passionate early years of their marriage. In between, the pages of the story are filled with the mystical enchantment of the holiday season and all the events surrounding it that are so much a part of small-town life. Anyone looking for a holiday read to really put you in the Christmas spirit should look no further. Some Enchanted Season left me with the feeling of curling up in a warm blanket on a cold winter's day, and renewed my belief that miracles truly can happen, not only at Christmas, but any time of the year. It can be paired with it's predecessor in the Bethlehem series, Season for Miracles, for a double-dose of heartwarming holiday cheer. Both have earned a spot on my keeper shelf, and with two winners in a row Marilyn Pappano has earned a spot on my favorite authors list. I can't wait to dive into the remaining books in the Bethlehem series, Father To Be, Gabriel's Angel (a novella from the Yours 2 Keep anthology), First Kiss, Getting Lucky, Heaven on Earth, Cabin Fever, and Small Wonders, and explore some of the other books on Ms. Pappano's backlist.
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Reading Progress

12/12/2008 page 26
6.95% "Off to a good start. Can't wait to see how this couple reconciles, but it should make for a heartwarming story."
12/13/2008 page 48
12.83% "Some of my favorite secondary characters from Book 1 are back. Bethlehem is such a charming magical town."
12/15/2008 page 97
25.94% "Noelle, the guardian angel is back, and I'm intrigued by a mystery surrounding a bracelet."
12/15/2008 page 137
36.63% "Nathan and Emilie, the H/H of the first book just put in an appearance. Seems like a lot of future stories are being set up too."
12/16/2008 page 189
50.53% "Ross's secret is a doozy. It'll be interesting to see how the author manages to redeem him."
12/17/2008 page 251
67.11% "It's very endearing to watch the hero falling in love with his wife again and being jealous, but he's fighting it for all he's worth.;)"
12/18/2008 page 296
79.14% "Not overly steamy, but there have been several tastefully sensuous scenes in a very short time. Ummmmm!"
12/18/2008 page 330
88.24% "This story is just so sweet and emotional. I'm somewhat surprised by how much I'm enjoying it."
12/19/2008 page 374
100.0% "Wonderful Christmas story. Loved it! Review coming soon."
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