Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes by Joanne DeMaio
Vera Sterling is reeling from the loss of her job as a journalist in the city when she returns to her small Connecticut hometown of Addison for her sister's wedding. Jolted by her unsteady new circumstances, Vera finds herself making a decision to take a chance and do something truly unexpected: namely, purchasing an old Colonial home complete with a neglected barn. Once the famed and beloved Christmas Barn of her youth, the old timber building is run down and the house is in need of a host of repairs; but Vera finds encouragement when she stumbles across a treasure hidden in the barn, left behind by the Christmas Barn’s proprietor with the wish of hope that can only come from one special holiday. As she begins to chip away at her new life, Vera gets reacquainted with the town nestled into Addison Cove, particularly handsome hardware store owner Derek Cooper whose history of tragic loss brings the town together every year to remember a young girl lost at Christmas. But when Derek’s yearly tribute festival is threatened by an unstoppable snowstorm, it’s up to Vera to commemorate a tragic event while trying to heal the heart of a father still steeped in unfathomable grief.
Joanne DeMaio’s third novel, Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes, marks the author’s return to the fictional town of Addison, Connecticut, this time with all the magic and warmth of a New England Christmas. DeMaio’s celebrated talent for crafting memorable small-town stories blossoms under the light of the holiday season and gives readers an endearing look at how enchanting the festivity of Christmas can be, whether by lights strung up in an old barn or by the natural beauty of snowflakes. A collection of charming new characters are presented here, but not without a few cameos from DeMaio’s previous books, Whole Latte Life and Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans. The trio of standalone novels is tied together through DeMaio’s delightful writing style and the unforgettable enchantment of her fictional Connecticut world.
There's a sense of simplicity to Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes that contrasts particularly with the more complexly woven story of DeMaio’s second novel, Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans; the departure is well-suited and calls to mind the simple joy of the season, countering the story of Derek’s sad history with all the lightness and merriment that Christmas can offer. DeMaio's transition from summer stories to holiday tales is beautifully handled, drawing as heartfelt a story with the canvas of the winter months and evoking the pure fun of the Christmas excitement that touches all our hearts. Derek's struggle to come to terms with his loss and Vera's search to find a place in his life add a layer of depth to the sweetness of the setting as the complexity of their relationship tugs successfully on the reader's heartstrings. Full of warmth and joy, Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes delivers a story that reminds us that wishes come true and that love is around us if we’ll only look for it – at Christmastime, and always.