Book Review

Sunny Shelly’s Review: If Only in My Dreams by Carrie Aarons

If Only in My Dreams by Carrie Aarons is now live!

‘Tis the season to … be freshly divorced at twenty-six and moving back into your parents’ house?

Because that’s my reality this Christmas. As if it isn’t bad enough that my entire hometown is buzzing with the news of my failed marriage, who is the first person I bump into at the grocery store? The guy who treated me like his personal booty call in high school just happens to be looking at spices while I’m trying to pick up cinnamon for my mother.

And get this; Porter Kelly, the broody, mysterious recluse who exposed his own secrets to the world by writing a book about his family years ago, is the one who acts like I wronged him. His rude remarks on aisle nine are the final straw as my exhausted unhappiness breaks, and I’m officially calling off the most wonderful time of the year.

Too bad it’s literally impossible for the woman whose parents own a railroad that specializes in Christmas train rides to ignore the holiday season. Because I’m back under their roof, it’s mandatory to work in the middle of the red and green merriment, Santa himself, and wait for it …

Porter serenading us with the greatest festive hits of all time. That’s right, apparently my teenage heartthrob turned nemesis not only works for my parents, but can strum a guitar like he’s trying to get every soccer mom on board pregnant. As we’re forced to spend more time together than ever, his past baggage and my marital rejection make their way to the surface, bonding us in ways neither of us knew possible.

I thought I was heartbroken about my ex-husband wanting to end our marriage, but that pain is nothing compared to what Porter could inflict. He seems like a changed man, one on the precipice of a new chapter, which is exactly where I find myself. Would it be crazy to think we could turn the page together?

Returning home was the only option I had. But as I come dangerously close to counting on the first man who broke my heart, I wonder if all of my future dreams are too good to be true.

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Sunny Shelly’s Review: 5 Stars

If Only in My Dreams is second-chance, small-town, coworkers perfection wrapped up in all the good tidings of a Christmas story. Porter and Madison’s romance had me hooked from the first page right up until that feel-good HEA epilogue.

That’s not to say that this story is all rainbows and unicorns, because it is not! Madison is back home in her small hometown a few months after her divorce, helping out her parents at their themed Christmas train business while juggling her own job. And one of her coworkers is Porter, none other than her former high school fling, the guy with a huge chip on his shoulder who smashed her heart into smithereens.

Porter’s childhood wasn’t the best, so I get why he is such an angry, grumpy guy. He is downright cruel to Madison at times because he refuses to let himself be vulnerable around her at first. Madison, meanwhile, has zero self-confidence left after her husband just ditched her. She’s struggling with healing emotionally from her divorce when she’s forced into close proximity with Porter, and all her insecurities from high school come bubbling up to the surface again.

As they spend time together, Porter and Madison begin to reconnect, and he finally admits that he didn’t hate her at all — just hated that he loved her and didn’t know how to handle that. But is Madison ready to fall in love again?

I really enjoyed the story arc between the main characters in this book. After Madison’s life imploded, she got a second chance with her first love and it was better than anything she ever expected it to be. I also really liked the side characters — her mom and dad were wonderful, her best friend is super supportive, and there’s a lovely reconciliation subplot between Porter and his mom.

If Only In My Dreams is the kind of book that I’d love to see brought to life as a TV movie!

I received an advanced copy and voluntarily left a review.

Meet Carrie Aarons

Author of romance novels such as Fool Me Twice and Love at First Fight, Carrie Aarons writes books that are just as swoon-worthy as they are sarcastic. A former journalist, she prefers the love stories of her imagination, and the athleisure dress code, much better.

When she isn’t writing, Carrie is busy binging reality TV, having a love/hate relationship with cardio, and trying not to burn dinner. She’s a Jersey girl living in Texas with her husband, daughter, son, and Great Dane/Lab rescue.

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