Title: Christmas at Butterfly Cove
Author: Sarah Bennett
Publisher: HQ Digital
Series: Butterfly Cove #3 (of 3)
NOTES: This is a mostly spoiler-free review. The one spoiler is at the very end of the review and clearly indicated. I received my copy through the publisher via NetGalley. Opinions are my own.
- alcohol abuse
- mentions of past rape
- mentions of past domestic abuse
- anxiety, depression, panic attacks
- death of a minor character
Christmas at Butterfly Cove is a romance novel about a woman and a man reconciling after a year apart. It handles that reconciliation (and the events during their separation) in such a way that is believable and heartwarming. I had issues with the pacing, abundance of typos, and the fact that this book starts in the middle of the main characters’ relationship.
Main Storyline: 4/5
Main Relationship: 3/5
Sexual Content: 1/5 (PG-13)
When I requested Christmas at Butterfly Cove, I somehow did not realize that it’s the third book in a trilogy. I saw a cute cover and a love story set around Christmas — and I went for it. And I’m so glad I did!
Reading this after not reading the first two books put me off a little, especially in the beginning, because there were relationships and details that I missed out on — but I don’t hold that against this novel. I don’t expect a third book in a trilogy (or series) to stand on its own. In fact, I like that Butterfly Cove didn’t explain everything from the first two novels. It shows confidence in the reader. I look forward to reading the first two and letting all of the details fall together.
I like the story, the characters, the relationships. There were a few moments where I teared up. I think this is one of the more realistic romance novels I’ve read. There’s a lot of drama, but it’s the kind of stuff that dysfunctional families actually go through, and Bennett delivers it well. I like the hodgepodge family because it reminds me a lot of my own.
However, where I liked the story and the characters, the book falls short technically/in execution. There were a lot of spelling errors (which I’m assuming is because I received an ARC? I hope?). The timing was weird. The first third of the novel went slowly and did some unclear time jump things — I didn’t realize we’d moved forward a month until halfway through the next chapter, and that happened a few times.
Christmastime started about midway through the book, which was a little disappointing as I expected the whole book to be Christmas-y, but that was when the timing improved and the story seemed to actually start. The plot developed a little more seamlessly from there.
(This could change once I go back and read the first two books. For now, though,) Nee and Luke’s relationship was kind of lacking for me because I got into it in the middle. I didn’t experience their whirlwind romance or their breakup, just the aftermath and reconciliation. I did enjoy what of their relationship I read, though. Luke gave Nee what she needed, helped her heal. They both grew on their own, too, which made them stronger together.
All of that said, my overall feeling after reading this was pleasant. I love a good Christmas story, and ones with big families and healing hearts are even better. I recommend this book to people who’ve read the first two installments, who can read past typos, and who are comfortable with mentions of the content warnings listed above.
I think Bennett handled Nee’s past date r*pe pretty well. Nee’s retelling of the event — when she eventually told Luke and her sisters — wasn’t graphic, came across as believable, and the others’ reactions throughout the rest of the novel showed care and sensitivity. The only part that made me a bit “eh” was how easily Nee and Luke had sex for the first time. Nee’s history wasn’t brought up at all in the context of “we just had sex and everything’s okay”, and that’s weird to me.
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