TRUE LOVE IN HIS STOCKING?
They say you can't go home again, but Keith O'Connell wasn't worried about staying. He was just back in town to sell his late mother's house and try to avoid old emotions. Of course, hiring estate sale specialist Kenzie Bradshaw meant the possibility of creating new memories before he left. Especially once the Matchmaking Mamas hatched a plan.
Kenzie Bradshaw was used to the turmoil involved in estate sales, though she'd never had a client like Keith. He wanted everything gone. She knew, however, there were some things -- some memories -- he shouldn't lose. Convincing him to spend one last Christmas in his family's home could melt his hardened heart. But would it bring back the man she used to know and love?
Good book. Keith goes back to his childhood home when he gets word that his mother has died. He hadn't seen or talked to his mom in ten years, and all he wants to do is sell the house and go back to the life he has made for himself. Before he can do that, he has to clear out the house of all the stuff that's there. Not knowing where to start, he takes the advice of his real estate agent and hired Kenzie to take care of it.
Kenzie is the youngest in her family and the only one not married. She loves her business and is in no hurry to get married, despite the best efforts of her mother and sisters. While in high school, she had had a big crush on Keith, big brother to one of her friends. Being hired to help him with his mother's house is both good and bad. It's bad because she discovers that her crush never went away, and seeing him again just brings it all back. It's good because she can see that the weight of some of his memories is crushing him and she feels that she can help him through it all.
I enjoyed the relationship that built between Keith and Kenzie. Keith had tried to bury all the pain that resulted from his sister's death and his subsequent estrangement from his mother. All he wants is to get rid of the house and leave again, but Kenzie isn't letting him pass all the responsibility on to her. I loved seeing how she was determined to help him through it all. She could see that there was pain under the bitterness that he expressed. Even though she had only been hired to deal with the estate sale, she can't help but offer her help on the personal side. I loved her offer to help with the funeral arrangements, and that she pushed him into participating in all the steps. I liked the way that she seemed to know when to insist and when to back off a little.
Keith didn't know how to deal with Kenzie's interference in his plans. He didn't want to think about anything except getting rid of the house and everything in it, and tried to resist Kenzie's meddling. It was fun to see him get sucked into doing what she wanted and then liking it. Though he wanted to believe that he could handle everything, he found himself very grateful for Kenzie's help and support through the funeral. As the walls that he had built up to protect himself from his memories of his sister and his mother started to crumble, he discovered that other emotions were also making themselves known. First it was simple attraction, but then he realized that he was beginning to need Kenzie in ways he hadn't needed anyone in years. The strength of his emotions scared him into running back to San Francisco, where he thought he could go back to the way things had been before.
Kenzie had quickly realized that her heart was in danger as she helped Keith through his memories. I liked the fact that she embraced her feelings rather than trying to deny them. She knew that there was a good chance that nothing would come of them, but she had to try. I loved seeing her let him go at the end, believing that it had to be his choice to stay. She did sort of get the last word as she stuck something in his suitcase that he wasn't expecting. I loved the ending and seeing the changes in Keith.
I also liked the secondary characters. Kenzie's family was terrific. I loved the early scene with Kenzie and her sister, as Kenzie saw right through the attempt at matchmaking and stood up for herself. But in spite of the matchmaking attempts, Kenzie's relationship with her family is really good. I loved seeing the support she got from them whenever she needed help. It was really sweet to see how they made Keith feel like a part of their family, something he hadn't realized he missed until they did it. The matchmaking mamas of course made their own appearances, from the setup of Keith and Kenzie at the beginning to their presence at the wedding in the end. I loved their satisfaction at their unbroken streak of successful matches.