Joe Gardner didn’t expect to run into his ex-wife’s attorney, especially at a family gathering. When she tries to apologize for the role she played in the destruction of his life, he brushes her aside and refuses to believe she’s become a believer.
When an accident forces them to work together at Gardner’s Gazebo during the Christmas Holidays, Joe will come face to face with the truth about Elizabeth and about himself.
Christmas Pearl by Robin Bayne is the third inspirational romance in her Gardner’s Gazebo series. While I didn’t read the first two books in the series, I was able to enjoy this book on its own. There are appearances by the characters of both previous books in this story.
At the beginning of this story, Joe Gardner has just received his final divorce decree and a final judgment from the court. Joe is saddened by the end of his marriage, he never wanted the divorce, and is upset over losing his house and having to pay his now ex-wife’s attorney bills. Being a devoted Christian, he’s questioning his faith and wondering why his life has taken the turn it did. We then fast forward a year in Joe’s life, he’s got a new job, has moved back to Portlandville, where his family is from and has become the manager of the Portlandville Country Club. Getting his life back on track, Joe never figured on meeting Elizabeth or Liza Montgomery, his ex-wife’s attorney, at his family’s restaurant, Gardner’s Gazebo. He also never planned on being attracted to her.
Dissatisfied with her life, Elizabeth “Liza” Montgomery has changed a lot in the last year. Since having become a Christian, she’s given up being a divorce attorney and now practices family law. She’s even become friends with Tim Gardner, an old boyfriend, and his wife. She enjoyed spending time at their family’s restaurant too. She never expected to run into Joe Gardner, one of Tim’s cousins, or to be attracted to him. Especially, since he doesn’t seem interested in letting go of the past.
The scenes between Joe and Liza are a blend of attraction, anger and angst. While Liza’s changed and become a Christian, Joe is stuck in the past and at first refuses to let go of his pain. He blames her for his divorce and for financial loss. While both of Joe’s cousins Daniel and Tim, and their spouses, know the reason for the tension between them, they continue to throw Joe and Liza together whenever they can. The family knows Liza will be good for Joe. While Joe is not happy about what his family is attempting to do, eventually even he has to acknowledge she’s not the same woman he knew. When Tim and his wife are in an accident and need their help at Gardner’s Gazebo, Joe and Liza end up working together.
As Joe let’s go of his bitter past, his attraction to Liza grows. As she gets to know Joe better, her attraction for him grows too. While I think Ms. Bayne did a good job of explaining both of their pasts and their emotions, I had a hard time connecting to Joe. His refusal to let go of the past and insistence on blaming Liza for his divorce was a little over the top. I was able to connect with Liza, a woman who wanted a second chance and was willing to give others a second chance too.
When someone from their past comes into town, both Joe and Liza will have to decide who and what they want in their future. Will Joe realize how he really feels before its too late? You’ll have to read Christmas Pearl to find out.
Joe Gardner never expected to see Elizabeth again, not after the part she'd played in ruining his life. Refusing to believe she now shares his faith, Joe tosses aside her efforts to apologize.
But when they are forced to work together in the midst of the Christmas season, Joe has to face the truth about Elizabeth, and himself.