Richard Paul Evans. This year's book is Noel Street.
Set in 1975, Noel Street introduces us to Elle, a widowed mother of young Dylan. She's barely scraping by on her waitress's paycheck. When her car breaks down again, she doesn't know how she'll pay to get it fixed. But William, a new-to-town mechanic and Vietnam vet, fixes it for free, to repay a kindness she has shown him.
And yes, you can see it coming can't you? And that's what I was waiting for - the slow building attraction, two wounded souls finding each other, complications that come between them and...hopefully a happily ever after ending. There's much comfort in listening to this type of book around Christmas. (And the book is set at Christmas as well)
Both leads have not come to term with their pasts, not forgiving themselves and having a hard time living in the present. Love, loss, family, friends, forgiveness and redemption all play a part in Evans' story.
I liked both characters a lot and Dylan was a treat. I liked the 'historical' setting. I don't think the story would have worked written in present day. Evans knows his audience and his writing reflects that. I did find the 'villain' of the story, The Ketchup Lady, to be a bit over the top. I appreciated the supporting players, notably Fran and the diner crew.
I chose to listen to Noel Street. The reader was Helene Maksoud - a nice bit of continuity as she has read the first two 'Noel' books. She has a wonderfully calm, paced manner of speaking. Her voice is gentle, with a nice undertone and is very easy to listen to. Maksoud enunciates well and her speech is clear. She provide different voices for all characters, making it very easy to tell who was speaking. (It's hard to portray a child's voice, but Dylan was done well.) Listen to an excerpt of Noel Street.
Perfect listening for the holiday season. (Officially less than a month away!)