CELEBRATION AT CHRISTMAS COVE takes place on Sea Spray Island, a small New England community where Christmas takes over the town – and the name - of Quahog Cove during the month of December. Celeste is a writer for an elite travel magazine with the unwieldy name of Peregrinate. Halfway through the book I googled peregrinate and learned that, per Oxford Languages, it means “travel or wander around from place to place”, which is a fitting description of Celeste as well. She’s headed to the Caribbean for the Christmas holiday, to soak up some sun and to cover the annual carnival. Except she’s late to the gate and misses her flight, and finds herself instead on a small aircraft to Sea Spray Island, where she’ll catch another flight to New York.
Nathan, a resident of Sea Spray Island, is also on that small aircraft, on his way home after a discouraging meeting with a foundation that he was hoping would award the town’s community center a grant. Without that grant, the center would not be able to pay rent and expenses, and would have to close its doors. Nathan is the director of the community center, widowed, and raising a young daughter. Abbey is eight years old, and a little precocious but not overly so. Nathan’s sister runs an inn, so when Celeste’s connecting flight is canceled, she finds herself booked into a room.
I felt sorry for Celeste, and I understood why she was so anxious to get to her original destination. She has no family since her mother passed away, and needs the distraction over the holiday. Plus she has a nightmare of a boss who rants and raves at her as if it’s her fault the weather is preventing her from traveling. But at the same time, I wanted to tell her to chill out. She’s desperate to get off Sea Spray Island, and is initially reluctant to engage with her hosts and the residents of the town. But the weather is uncooperative and every time she gets her hopes up that a plane or the ferry will be able to carry her away, they are promptly dashed again.
Abbey takes to Celeste right away. Nathan also takes to Celeste but, knowing she’ll be gone soon, a little slower. As their attraction and friendship grew, I sometimes didn’t particularly like Celeste, who did nothing to hide the fact that she was only biding her time until she could escape. But as the island and it’s residents grew on her, I liked her more and more. Although she was still sometimes oblivious to the people around her. She becomes obsessed with wanting at least one kiss from Nathan before she leaves, which I felt was a little selfish, since she wasn’t thinking beyond that or even entertaining the notion of continuing to see and/or stay in touch with Nathan once she was on her way. Sure, long distance relationships can be hard, but the flight didn’t seem to be a very long one from Boston, where she lived.
But Celeste redeemed herself more than once. Her interactions with Abbey were sweet, and I loved the friendship that developed between Celeste and another visitor staying at the inn, an older man named Arthur. He was mistaken for her grandfather at one point, but it was fitting for their relationship, and when he had a medical crisis Celeste stepped up and was absolutely wonderful with him.
Much of the narrative is from Nathan’s point of view, and I loved him practically from their first conversations on the plane. He shies away from dating and relationships, especially after Abbey became stressed and anxious the last time he dated a woman. Abbey is the most important thing in his life, and I frankly felt, initially anyway, that he deserved better than Celeste. Nathan is desperate to find funding for the community center, which provides a multitude of services to the community, and I was more interested in that aspect of the story than in Celeste trying to find a way off the island. I really just did not see how Nathan and Celeste could possibly have a happy ending together, but when the resolution came it was very satisfying.
The biggest theme of CELEBRATION AT CHRISTMAS COVE is community, and with its abundance of heart warming friendships, laughter, and a cast of eccentric supporting characters, Quahog Cove is a community that I would love to be a part of.
In this humorous and heartwarming romance, sparks fly between a woman who can't wait to leave a wintry New England island, and a widower who would do anything to stay.
Travel magazine writer Celeste Bell is in a terrible mood. Not only was her flight to the Caribbean diverted to a Massachusetts island, now it looks like she'll have to spend Christmas there. Single and still mourning the loss of her mother a year earlier, Celeste is desperate to avoid any emotional entanglements and all holiday festivities. She just doesn't feel like celebrating.
But that's exactly what community center director Nathan White and his young daughter Abigail want to do. Nathan is entirely focused on making sure that his daughter has a happy Christmas, especially with the knowledge that if he can't raise money for the community center soon, it will close and they'll have to leave the island. When he meets Celeste, Nathan begins to feel a connection and wonders if he's brave enough to risk his heart once more.
Thawing their frozen hearts, and saving the community center will require a Christmas miracle. But tis' the season...