Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Book Review: Snowed In, by Rachel Hawthorne (Second review for The 6th Annual Christmas Spirit Reading Challenge)


This is my second review for 
The 2015 Christmas Spirit Reading
Challenge, hosted by
Michelle @ The Christmas Spirit! 



Snowed In
Rachel Hawthorne
Mass Market Paperback, 
261 pages
HarperTeen
November 27, 2007
Christmas Romance, Contemporary Romance, Holiday Romance, Young Adult Fiction
Source: Amazon


Book Synopsis:
Well, apparently I live here now—my mom just bought the place. And named it after me, Ashleigh, which was nice. But did she know how cold it is here??

Um, it's a tiny island with not much to do, unless you really like sleigh rides. But I gotta say there are quite a few hot guys on this cold island . . .








This novel is definitely a cozy Christmas read! Since it's a YA romance, it's full of the typical teen angst regarding relationships. Some adults might not even bother with it, as it's a light, fluffy read. I greatly enjoyed it! The book has certainly made me nostalgic for those high school days in which not being asked out was a major tragedy, and the desire to fit in  and be accepted was of the greatest importance.

The main character in this story, who has the rather unusual and comical name of Ashleigh Sneaux (pronounced 'Snow') is a very likable, spunky person. She and her mom, who has been divorced for two years, move from sultry, hot Texas to a very cold island on the Great Lakes. Her mother wants a total change of scene, especially since her ex-husband has recently announced his impending remarriage. Ash, as she is popularly known, is not at all thrilled at the prospect of having a stepmother, and her mother has decided that, in addition to a change of scene, a career change would also help.

The two of them are planning to open a bed-and-breakfast, and Ash's mom has therefore bought a suitable place -- a beautiful, Victorian-style house on the island. All it needs is some remodeling. She has also named the future B&B "Chateau Ashleigh", which I think is pretty sweet. (Please skip the eye-rolling. Lol.) This is a hint that Ash and her mom have a great mother-daughter relationship, and I really liked that. 

Ash is, in one important way, not like most teen girls; she's not interested in having a boyfriend. So far, her relationships with guys have been very short -- two, or at most, three, dates is her limit, then she needs to move on. She has taken her mom's advice to heart: "Have fun, enjoy life, get married later, much, much, later." Still, she's interested in meeting new guys, and hopes there will be some hot ones on the island.

The characters in this novel are very believable and realistically portrayed. They act and speak like real teens, and I loved that! I have read a couple of reviews whose writers thought the characters were rather immature and childish, but my opinion is that we can all be immature at times, no matter what chronological age we happen to be. In contrast to these reviewers, I thoroughly liked and had fun reading about these characters.

Ash is a very entertaining, funny narrator. At times she did remind me a bit of Bella from The Twilight Saga, although the two girls are not quite alike, either in looks or personality. However, Ash is facing the same type of experience Bella faced -- she moves from a hot, arid land to one that has totally different weather, although, in this case, it's snow and freezing temperatures our protagonist faces. Also, she moves from a large city, from a high school with thousands of students, to one that has so few, all the grades are in one building. (Well, Forks High had many more students than that.)

I love the way Ash takes everything in stride, how she handles herself when meeting new people, and how genuinely nice she is to her new friends. I also love her high ethical standards; when faced with an overwhelming attraction to a new guy whom she later finds out is her best friend's boyfriend, she adamantly refuses to be 'the other girl'.

I also liked Josh, the guy Ash feels such an attraction for. However, I did think he was at first too pushy in trying to get Ash involved in a relationship, considering the fact that he already had a girlfriend. So these actions cost him points with me. Otherwise, he was a very sweet, gentle guy, just the type I wish I could have dated when I was in high school, and never got to.... Besides, he did redeem himself in my eyes, later on in the book.

I also liked Chase, although not as much as Josh; I did think Josh was hotter. But Chase was sexy in his own way, and he was constantly cracking jokes, which Ash liked, even though she figured right away that he was just a flirt.

I don't want to give the wrong impression here, with the mention of 'hotness' and 'sexiness'. This book is totally a clean read, so there are no sex scenes in it, which I think is entirely appropriate for a Christmas-themed (or winter-themed) book. Also, there's little to no profanity, another aspect of the book that  I loved.

Nathalie, Ash's best friend on the island (she has another best friend in Texas, named Tara), struck me as the most complex character in this novel, although Ash is not without some complexity of her own, and Josh, too, has his deeper side. Nathalie seems to have a hidden problem with self-esteem, though, and I ended up feeling sorry for her. I was glad to see that everything turned out just fine for her in the end.

Hawthorne (I wonder if she's any relation to the famous writer, since one of her characters is named "Nathalie") builds a beautiful, very well-told story, and her setting is just gorgeous. From her descriptions, I can picture the island as a magical winter land, in which one can not only enjoy the beauty of this season, but find a cozy love as well. I really enjoyed the tour of the Victorian cottages, the romantic sleigh rides, and oh, the fudge! Yes, this island is very famous for its scrumptious fudge. My mouth watered as I read the descriptions of these sugary confections, and I became so nostalgic for a place I've never even been to....

I have always lived in the heat of South Florida, and have been yearning for northern climates my entire life. I've never even seen snow in real life -- only in photos and movies. So I was totally delighted by all the winter references, especially the cozy fireplaces, dressing like Eskimos, and hot cocoa! And have I mentioned the romantic sleigh rides?

Everything about this novel simply and totally enchanted me! It was the perfect holiday read -- nothing too dramatic, too 'heavy' or complex. It was just what I stated above -- a light, fluffy read. There are times I want just that, and especially during the Christmas season!

So all of you lucky snowbirds -- whether teens or not -- can grab this book and your hot cocoa with marshmallows, and snuggle up on a comfy couch near the fireplace and Christmas tree, and get set to enjoy! I, unfortunately, must deal with 80-degree temps down here in Miami, but that didn't prevent me from totally having fun reading about being snowed in!

MY RATING:






Rachel Hawthorne, who also writes as Lorraine Heath and Jade Parker, is the daughter of a British beauty (her mother won second place in a beauty contest sponsored by Max Factor during which she received a kiss from Caesar Romero-who played the Joker on the old "Batman" TV series) and a Texan who was stationed at Bovingdon while serving in the air force. Lorraine was born in Watford, Herts, England, but soon after moved to Texas. Her "dual" nationality has given her a love for all things British and Texan. She enjoys weaving both heritages through her stories.





3 comments:

  1. This sounds really cute and I have always wanted to read it. You convinced me to finally give it a go!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi, Barb!

    Oh, this is definitely cute!! You will absolutely enjoy it! I'm glad my review convinced you to read it!

    Thanks for the nice comment!! : )

    ReplyDelete
  3. Eek! I was so excited when I saw someone reviewing Snowed In! I was a huge fan of Hawthorne's works back when I was a young adult and Snowed In had been one of my favourites. I am in total agreement with your review and this book definitely deserved the 5 star ratings! Such nostalgia!

    ReplyDelete

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