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literary inklings

literary inklings

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Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer by Joanne DeMaio


      To Wes, the moment becomes almost magical as she looks up at her tree again. The only sound - if it's a sound at all - is the hush of the December night.Joanne DeMaio, Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer

Returning her readers to the idyllic New England world of her novels, Joanne DeMaio whips up a charming love story that captures all the magic of the holidays and reminds us of the small joys of the season. The fictional village of Addison, with all its friendly neighbors and quaint charm, is the ideal setting for a heart-warming Christmas romance, and the perfect recipe includes two endearing protagonists – mailman Wesley and greeting card designer Jane – thrown together with a precocious puppy, a festive scavenger hunt, and a dose of the magic that only the holidays can deliver.

In Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer, Wes is picking up the pieces after his fiance leaves him jilted just before their wedding, while Jane is nursing a broken wrist and an equally broken creative spirit. Determined to create a stunning new collection of holiday cards - or risk losing her job - Jane is on the hunt for holiday cheer, finding inspiration in her mother's beautiful winter paintings. When her path crosses with Wesley's, she finds herself on a mission to lift his holiday spirits as well as her own. Communicating through notes in her mailbox, Jane and Wes slowly begin to take solace in each other's company, and when Jane's mother gives her a list of tasks to help imbue her with some Christmas cheer, Jane decides to take Wes along for the ride. Between Jane's hunt for holiday spirit and the mischievous antics of his accidental new co-pilot, an orphaned puppy named Comet, Wesley's plans for a solo, brooding Christmas are well on their way to being kicked out from under the mistletoe.

      He shifts in his chair to face her. "And if you need anything from me, well..." There it is, that smile of hers. Though it's not on her lips, as though she's keeping a personal secret between them; it's all in her eyes. He also notices the brushed-gold ball earrings, and a hint of blush on her cheeks, until he realizes he's noticing too much. So he reaches in front of her and picks up the red marker. "Well, you know what to do." After a brief hesitation, he carefully finishes his cast drawing, adding a prominent flipped-up red flag to his mailbox sketch. "Just flag me. Okay?" Joanne DeMaio, Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer

Aptly capturing Jane’s journey to create the perfect Christmas greeting card series, the novel's narrative is warm, cheerful, and ringing with sentiment at every turn. Familiar faces return to the pages as Addison comes to life, including Snowflakes and Coffee Cakes’s Vera, Greg (Wesley’s brother), and even, working tirelessly in the background, Vera’s weatherman father Leo Sterling. New characters and old become entwined equally within the cozy familiarity that seems to encompass all of DeMaio’s past books, and which is in no short supply here.

      Walking across the red covered bridge in her shearling-lined suede boots, it feels like she could very well be in the nineteenth century when a horse and buggy might clip-cop through the planked overpass.       Once she turns onto Olde Addison's Main Street, her mind is in full card-designing mode, picturing flickering white candles in the paned windows along the way, and maybe a small skating rink on the town green, the ice skaters leaning forward and swooshing across the ice, with a dusting of snow sprinkled everywhere. Joanne DeMaio, Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer

Over the course of her past five novels, DeMaio has explored the deep emotional caverns of many relationships as they are put to the ultimate test, but here she gives her readers a sweet novel that’s light on drama, devoting itself entirely to the simply joys that the holiday season and small-town life can bring, and the special way love looks all the more magical under the gleam of twinkling Christmas lights.

As enchanting as a season’s first snowfall and with all the warmth of an open fire, Snow Deer and Cocoa Cheer is a worthy gift from a writer who loves to give her readers stories to fall in love with.

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