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Strong Enough -- Jana Richards

 

Christmas at Solace Lake

It’s Christmas time at Solace Lake Lodge, but a series of thefts threatens everyone’s holiday spirit.

An emergency brings Drew Barnes to Solace Lake Lodge, an inn deep in the Minnesota woods owned by his aunt and uncle. He’s sure desperation is the only reason they’d allow him to fill in as their bookkeeper. No one in his family has believed in him since his mistake got him fired from his previous job. Soon after he arrives, Drew is disheartened to discover a series of thefts and financial irregularities. The last thing he wants is to be put in the middle of another crime.

Sous chef Celeste Bishop has made a good life for herself and her nine-year-old daughter in the three years she’s worked, and lived, at Solace Lake Lodge. After being unfairly fired, this was the only job she could get, and she’s grateful her gamble on the lodge paid off. The only sticking point is the isolation since she never learned to drive. How can she show her daughter independence when she’s always relying on others?

Drew sees Celeste’s frustration and offers to teach her to drive. A powerful attraction ignites between them, and soon deeper, stronger emotions blossom. Drew is all in, but Celeste resists her feelings. She’s nine years older than Drew. An interracial relationship didn’t work for her parents. And loving Drew feels like a betrayal of her deceased husband.

As Christmas approaches, the thefts escalate. Can Drew stop the thief and redeem himself in his family’s eyes—and his own? And can he convince Celeste they deserve the gift of a happily ever after this Christmas?

Read Reviews | Read Excerpt

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Heat Level: Sizzling

reviews

I connected with both Drew and Celeste. These characters are vibrant and realistic. My heart went out to these people for all they’ve been through. They deserve happiness, love, and of course second chances… With just enough angst, this romance is my pick for best holiday romance.
N.N. Light

Author Jana Richards demonstrates an in-depth appreciation for social issues by infusing them into the plot lines of her Solace Lake stories. In Christmas at Solace Lake, she has tackled the limitations faced by those with physical disabilities, the intricacies of interracial relationships and cyber crimes—how they are perpetrated as well as how their effects on businesses both large and small. Richards weaves each of these issues effortlessly into the romance between two people who have suffered due to things beyond their control. Emotions keep this story moving; the characters are multi-layered and very well drawn.
Based on a scale of 1-5, Christmas at Solace Lake, merits a 7.
Kat Henry Doran, Wild Women Reviews

I had a great time reading this Christmas-themed novel, which featured an older woman, a younger man, and the possibility of a second chance at love. The story also had a whodunit element, which added to its overall appeal.
Riza Loves to Read - Amazon 

This story stands well on its own with a budding romance between Drew and Celeste, who are strong leading characters… The author wrote a compelling story filled with heavy emotions of family drama, loss, and insecurities. Also written well was the discrimination of race and disability. Added to the romance is a little mystery of someone stealing and hacking into the lodge’s computer. The mystery was a fun bonus and propelled the read to a satisfying ending.
Still Moments Magazine

Christmas at Solace Lake by Jana Richards has several themes/tropes wrapped up in a sweet holiday love story. We get to examine a redemptive arc, friends to lovers, age gap and romantic suspense…  In addition to the gentle love story, Ms. Richards gives readers an interesting “who is doing it” as Drew and others lay a trap for a thief. This book contains characters from previous stories, but it is not necessary to have read the other stories to understand the dynamics and relationships depicted… I really enjoyed this gentle love story about two really nice people.
CLorraine - Amazon

This charming Christmas novel has well fleshed out characters that jump off the page. Their fears, anxieties and love are relatable to the readers. Theirs is a push and pull amongst Celeste and Drew as they attempt to move forward together whilst swimming in a lake of baggage.
Andrea - Amazon

This is a sweet small-town romance perfect to read this time of year. It's about family devotion, forgiveness, and second chances. It's heartwarming and light-hearted. You will be glad to have the opportunity to get to know the Solace Lake family.
Sharing Life’s Moments - Amazon

The characters are really well done. The story is full of conflicts, showcases prejudices—not just racial, but for the handicapped as well. I loved how Drew handled the little boy who was picking on Celeste’s daughter Hope. A sweet ending that satisfies.
Vicky - Goodreads

I enjoyed this book it had so many different storylines going on.
Family relationships work relationships love relationships with an undercurrent of mysterious thefts bank fraud impersonating and Christmas with a ball what else could you possibly want in a book.
Simply loved it ❤️
Corinne - Goodreads

Got me hooked with the title. I’m a sucker for a holiday romance. A definite read, tucked up on the sofa with your favourite blanket.
Get you hot drink at the ready, and be prepared to make an afternoon of constant page turning until your last page. Couldn’t put it down, from the colourful characters to the vision in my head of the Mistletoe Ball. Great little read.
Michelle - Goodreads

 

excerpt

He put his hand on her arm. “Celeste, whatever happened, it’s going to be all right. I promise you.”

She looked at him then, her eyes filling with tears. “I finished the exam before anyone else. I could see all the answers in my head like I was reading them from a screen. The person who gave the exam told me I got all the answers right, one hundred percent.” Tears streamed down her face as she pulled a crumpled piece of paper from her pocket. “I got my permit.”

The wonder in her eyes, the relief and joy, made him smile. Though he’d promised himself not to touch her today, he simply couldn’t resist. He pulled off his glove and, leaning across the console, laid his hand on her soft cheek. Drew stared into her beautiful dark eyes. The intoxicating combination of her warm, welcoming scent and the silky feel of her skin made his heart soar and his body catch fire. The need to kiss her nearly overpowered him, but he held back, knowing it wasn’t what she wanted.

She signaled her withdrawal with a soft sigh as she turned her head and leaned back against her seat, out of his reach. Drew let his hand drop and sat back in his seat as well. He stifled his own sigh as he pulled his glove back on.

Would she always be out of his reach?