I read the previous book in this series quite recently: A Mistletoe Miracle.
When I finished the first book with the same characters, I felt like I had only read half a story. There were so many unresolved things, and Stephen’s character seemed too convoluted for me to stick to one opinion of him!
When I saw that there was another separate story where we could see inside his head, I had to pick it up. I usually talk of how fast I read a particular book to indicate how much it worked for me. This was a two-sitting read only because I had to sleep/eat/cook. It was just the kind of story I wanted to read to feel like reading again. Something happy-ish, but with some depth.
I am not sure I recommend reading this as a standalone, not because things would not make sense but because the changes in people and their dimensions will not be as appreciated. Noelle is back in her city and trying to work through the last book in her cozy mystery series. She finds herself in a mental block situation. This is when she runs into Stephen, who has his own mess to deal with. The growth arcs for both the characters were ones I liked. Noelle both loves her family while feeling their weight in a non-obnoxious way. On the other hand, Stephen has to come to terms with how he and the world around him view himself and what that actually means.
There are a few graphic scenes, but not elaborate enough to take more pages than they should. I did not read the next book in the series, but I am sure I would enjoy it if I did!
I received an ARC thanks to NetGalley and the publishers but the review is entirely based on my own reading experience.