How Snowball Stole Christmas by Kristen McKanagh

Grab yourself a cup of hot cocoa and snuggle up in front of the fireplace so you can be whisked away to this magical holiday wonderland.

What’s it About? 

It’s Christmas time at the Weber Haus mountainside inn, where the official greeter, watcher, and matchmaker of the hotel’s resident humans is an adorably mischievous bundle of feline fluff named Snowball. Snowball takes her job very seriously –even if it means being a little more naughty than nice –and she’s ready to celebrate her third holiday season by making the purrrrfect match.

Most cats have nine lives, but Snowball is one of the very few with two jobs. Officially, she’s the Weber Haus inn’s greeter. Unofficially, she’s the town matchmaker. Her track record is the cat’s pajamas—until she meets her owner’s grinchy brother, Peter Diemer. Peter hopes to move the family bookstore to a busy location downtown—but someone else has outbid him for the last storefront.

Christmas is the ideal season for Lara Wolfe to fulfill her dream of expanding her home business into a real shop. Too bad someone is posting negative comments on the town forum. What kind of Grinch objects to a toy store?

Snowball is sure these two are a perfect match. They already have so much in common—books are a kind of toy, right? Now all they need to add to the mix is love, and Snowball has just the shenanigans up her furry sleeve to deliver a sweet romance in time to make the season merry and bright . . .

First Impressions

It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, as soon as you pick up a book in this beloved Snowball series, you will immediately be transported to all of the holiday comforts that Weber Haus has to offer. Not only will you become enamored with the characters this author artistically brings to life on the page, but you’ll also fall in love with the warmth that these reads evoke and envelop around you. Of all the books in this series so far, it’s fair to say this was my favorite couple of the bunch. Quite a few familiar faces (both human and of the furry variety) from the previous novels will make an appearance throughout, but Lara and Peter bring their own special personalities into the fray.

This novel opens with our two leading characters at odds with one another, but they don’t even realize it yet. Unaware enemies-to-lovers? Yes please! Peter has taken to crafting some rather negative comments on the town forum against the new owner of one of the most coveted shop locations in the area. Lara visited the town of Braunfels a few years before during a particularly melancholy Christmas, and she just knew it would be the idyllic place to open her toy store. Little did she know she would outbid a local man who was hoping to move his family’s bookshop to the prime location of little shops on the outskirts of Weber Haus. When Peter first meets this bubbly woman who “stole” the spot from him, he has every intention of staying as far away from her as possible. But a growing sense of guilt over his hurtful writing towards this caring and hardworking woman, not to mention a precocious matchmaking feline, will soon turn his entire world upside down.

The Lovable Grinch

It takes a few chapters for this book to find its feet, or paws for that matter, but once it does you’ll want to stay in this picturesque town bursting with lovable characters for as long as possible. Similar to the previous installments of this series, this book is fairly low drama from start to almost finish, but Peter and Lara have found each other after experiencing some rather life-changing moments which ultimately impact their unexpected newfound relationship. Upon first meeting, Peter is simply the surly Grinch living next door. It’s not that he’s your typical bah-humbug character who hates all things Christmas, but rather his sour mood is a result of a horrific accident months before which left him in a coma with massive brain trauma. He might be physically recovered on the outside, but his brain is still healing in a way where Peter’s personality isn’t quite what it used to be. He’s more prone to short-tempered outbursts and frustrations which have left even his closest family members wanting to keep their distance.

And yet, delightfully, none of this seems to phase Lara in the slightest. I kept expecting there to be a moment where Peter’s gruffness would prove too much for the outgoing toymaker, but she takes all of his minor moments of sourpuss attitude in stride. The fact Lara doesn’t know any of the details of his accident for the bulk of the book, and that she always tries her hardest to bring a smile and laugh to this Grinch of a man, demonstrates just how special a character she is in trying to find the good in everyone. Peter realizes that his accident changed him, but he also realizes that this at-times frustrating yet intriguing woman is bringing out more of the man he used to be. She heals him, she makes him better, and he can’t help but fall for her. Unfortunately, he knows it’s just a matter of time before the secret of his hurtful writing is revealed.

The Toymaker

Lara might be new to town, but she’s determined to make her toy shop a success. She’s overcome numerous obstacles to make this dream a reality, including a backstabbing boyfriend who maxed out her credit cards, an opinionated brother who seems convinced she’ll fail, and the death of her beloved grandmother who always had faith in her. As if moving to a new town and opening her store weren’t stressful enough, an anonymous local is also wishing for her downfall by spewing doubts on the town forum. When Lara’s brother insists that she look after his son over the holidays to deal with a family emergency, she’s almost convinced that the universe has it out for her. However, she refuses to let any of these hurdles stand in her way. She’ll do whatever it takes to make her shop a success, even if it takes up all her energy, and even if it means asking her Grinchy neighbor for a favor or two. Throughout the read the author does a phenomenal job of showing the constant tug-of-war happening between Lara and Peter. When Peter realizes his beautiful neighbor is the shop owner who outbid him, he tries his best to stay away, but soon decides to make it up to her by helping out with one favor during a busy moment in her toy shop. Let’s just say it involved a Santa costume.

Thinking that he was acting out of selfless kindness, Lara insists on repaying the favor, and what follows is an endless back-and-forth of both characters trying to help the other. These benevolent acts bring them closer together in a way neither expected, and those feelings of neighborly kindness naturally evolve into something deeper. Peter’s sense of protectiveness towards Lara also grows, especially when he sees how the hard work she puts into her business and loving care for her nephew is leaving her exhausted at the end of every day. He tries to help even more, and starts to voice his concerns that she’s doing too much, which of course results in her questioning his actions. Why won’t he let her fight her own battles? Is Peter just like her brother in thinking she’s bound to fail? Will he hurt her like her ex did? It was evident pretty much from the get-go that no matter how much holiday magic or meddling from a fuzzy fur ball might bring these two together, the reveal that Peter was the one behind the online vitriol would ultimately be the thing to push them apart. We were all hoping it wouldn’t happen, but it was surprisingly the most logical progression that upon discovering Peter was initially behind those hurtful comments about her business, Lara would need to take a step back to consider if she’s willing to give her heart over fully to this man. Luckily for us, not to mention Peter and Lara, one very determined and darling little fluffy wuffy kitty will do anything necessary to bring them back together again for a holiday happily ever after.

*A copy of this book was provided for an honest review*

Series: Snowball, book 3. This is one of those series I will be happy to return to again and again. It’s also fun to see Snowball grow up from season to season, and I’m loving the implication that one day she might even find a little romance of her own.

Final Impressions: This read is a delightful bundle of heartwarming comfort. From the characters to the setting, you’re quickly enveloped in all of the warmth this small town has to offer. When the story was forming its initial foundation there were some descriptive scenes which felt a bit repetitive in nature, but it didn’t take long to become fully invested in finding out whether Peter and Lara would find their HEA. One aspect of Peter’s character which I wish had been explored more fully was the nature of his accident, and the hardships involved with adopting a new personality that he knows isn’t completely his own. Instead we see the moments of connection between Peter and Lara were grounded in discussion of how their jobs did or didn’t bring them happiness, which was definitely entertaining in its own right. I also appreciated how the author highlighted the growing pains involved with any new relationship. The constant balancing act between Peter wanting to protect Lara from exhaustion or pain, while also giving her the freedom and space to stand up for herself when fighting her own battles. It was interesting to see them find the path that worked for them.

Smut Level: A few passion-filled kisses here and there, but no hanky panky.

Get it on Amazon: Click Here. $9.99 Kindle Price. Kensington Publisher. 272 Pages. 

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