Maggie Blackbird

Romancing Canada's Indigenous People

Today, I’m hosting author Alison Packard’s latest release Second Chance Christmas, a contemporary romance.  Be sure to read my review.  And don’t forget to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway.

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Title: Second Chance Christmas
Series: N/A
Author: Alison Packard
Genre: Contemporary Holiday Romance

Blurb:  Struggling actress Maddie Hart is home for the holidays in her small town and comes face-to-face with the last man she wants to see—the one she abandoned four years ago when she ran off to chase her dreams.

Police Sergeant Ben Ashford had an engagement ring in his pocket the night Maddie blindsided him. He doesn’t expect the gut punch of seeing her again or that she’d reignite feelings he’d thought long buried.

Ben’s not about to get tangled up with a woman who’ll just run again, but Maddie has never stopped thinking about him. Can she trade the bright lights of Hollywood for the twinkling Christmas lights of her hometown and a second chance at love?

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“The coast is clear,” he said, lowering his voice. “We can sneak in through the back entrance to the garden.”

Her eyes widened. “Isn’t that trespassing?”

“Not if we’re guests of the hotel or attending the dance.”

“We’re neither of those things.”

“No one will know we’re not attending the dance.” He nodded in the direction of the alley. “C’mon. You really should see it. We won’t stay long.”

After a few seconds, she nodded. “Okay. But if we get busted, you’re the one taking the fall. Not me.”

“Way to have my back,” he said, firing a sarcastic grin.

“Hey.” She lightly poked his upper arm. “I’m not built for prison. I’d be someone’s bitch two seconds after the cellblock door slammed behind me.”

He let out a snort of amusement and grabbed her hand. “You do have a flair for drama. Let’s go.”

After they rounded the corner, he walked beside her until they reached the alley behind the hotel. Once they were out of sight from the street, he guided her along the dimly lit alleyway past a large trash dumpster and what looked like an area for deliveries until they reached the white stucco wall that enclosed the terrace.

“You sure know how to show a girl a good time,” she whispered.

He chuckled under his breath as they approached the wrought iron door that would grant them entry. “Trust me. It’ll be worth it,” he said and reached for the handle on the door. “Damn it.” He let out a groan of frustration when the handle didn’t budge. “It’s locked.”

“A sure sign this is a bad idea.”

“No, it’s not.” Ben stepped back and surveyed the white stucco wall next to the gate. “We just need to be creative. Wait here.” He turned and jogged back to the dumpster.

“What are you doing?” she called after him in a loud whisper.

“Just wait there.” At the dumpster, he grabbed a wooden vegetable crate sitting next to it and hurried back to where Maddie stood, wearing a puzzled expression on her face. After a furtive glance over his shoulder, he set the crate at the base of the wall. “I’ll climb over and unlock the door.”

“Are you serious?” she said, keeping her voice low. “Why don’t we try to get inside the normal way?”

“Where’s the fun in that?” He stepped on the box, which gave him enough height to pull himself up, swing his leg over the wall, and easily straddle the top. He grinned at her as he balanced himself.

“Sergeant Ashford?”

He froze as one of the hotel’s security guards approached them. As the young man moved closer, Ben recognized him, and suddenly, his idea of harmless fun had turned into a colossal error in judgment. “Hey, Andre.” He looked down at Andre with a sheepish grin. Then he glanced at Maddie, who had covered her mouth with her hand. Probably to hide a gloating smile. “Long time, no see.”

Andre cocked his head and grinned. “It looks like the shoe’s on the other foot. When you were a patrol officer, you came upon me and my buddies trying to jump the fence over at the skate park.”

“Well, it was after hours. And the skate park was closed for the evening.”

“The garden door is locked for a reason,” Andre replied, using similar verbiage Ben used that night to Andre and his friends.

Under Andre’s amused gaze, a knot tightened in Ben’s stomach. He grimaced. Andre was enjoying this. And who could blame him?

“You’re right,” he acknowledged with an apologetic smile. “I shouldn’t be climbing the wall.”

“You don’t have to break in. I’d be happy to open the door for you.” Andre grinned. “You let me off with a warning at the skate park. So I guess I can return the favor and not call this in.”

“Thanks, Andre,” he said, exhaling in relief. He swung his leg back over the top of the wall and eased himself down onto the crate. “I appreciate that.”

“No problem.” Andre unhooked a key carabiner from his belt loop and unlocked the door with one of the keys. “But if I catch you doing this again, I’m not gonna go so easy on you.”

Ben cleared his throat and nodded. “I understand. It won’t happen again,” he said as Maddie stifled a laugh.

“Have a nice evening.” Andre opened the door and motioned for Ben and Maddie to proceed.

“You too, Andre.”

“Merry Christmas,” Maddie called out to Andre as they entered the garden. Then, as Ben closed the door behind them, she burst out laughing. “The look on your face when Andre showed up was priceless. You’re lucky it was him and not one of your officers.”

“Oh, don’t worry,” he said. “I’ll be hearing about this at the station. Andre is Carolyn’s nephew.”

She chuckled. “Small towns. You gotta love ’em.”

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I read the excerpt as I was readying the blog package for scheduling at my website.  One read and I was in.  And the author didn’t disappoint.  Second Chance Christmas is a small-town romance that involves great secondary characters and a sweet romance full of oodles of friendship and chemistry between Maddie and Ben.

Maddie Hart has come home for the holidays.  Thanksgiving to be more precise.  As a struggling actress in Hollywood, she needs a break from the constant rejection.  Plus, she misses her family, and maybe she misses Ben.  She worries her failing career as an actress will result in another failure in her life.  She sucked at high school, she sucked at sports, and she pretty much sucked at everything.  Feeling constantly second-rate next to her two successful and ambitious older sisters, she believes acting is all she has.

Then there’s Ben Ashford, a sergeant for the local police, having worked his way up to his new position after Maddie left him high and dry to pursue a career in Hollywood.  His love life has been on the backburner after she fled, and he’s not about to turn into a womanizer like his younger brother, especially after their mother did the unthinkable and hurt the family.  Plus, he has his little sister to look out for.

The author created a great community in the small town of Summer-Wood, Oregon.  It has a festive cheer to it, but also touches on the problems that happen, too.  This isn’t some magical utopia, but a real place full of all kinds of characters that jump off the page with their own side stories, quirks, attributes, and faults.

It has the makings of a great series since so much is going on in the background, from the friendship between Maddie’s sister and Ben’s brother to the aging actress Stevie who runs the town’s community theatre.

I especially enjoyed how Ben and Maddie weren’t enemies after she’d rejected him and fled for Hollywood.  Sure, they get off to an awkward start, but they are mature enough to treat each other with respect, even though Ben is wary of her presence.  What’s really great is the slow build-up of friendship between the two as they become reacquainted, never having truly forgotten about each other.

Some might feel Maddie was cold and heartless to leave Ben behind, but I fully understood she was at an age when career is big in a young woman’s life, along with getting out in the world to experience what it has to offer.  Many don’t leave to “try” and do have regrets later in life, wondering if they should have followed what they thought was their dream.  The author captures this wonderfully.

As for Ben, he has his hands full.  He’s been promoted, he’s fending off a woman who can’t seem to get the hint he has no romantic interest in her, and he has his younger brother and sister to cope with.

Even though there were many layers to the story, I didn’t feel overwhelmed.  As a matter of fact, the layers added many dimensions to the character and the town.  Well done author.  The secondary characters are present to push forward the romance between Maddie and Ben or add to the setting of what happens in a small town.

The author keeps the tension straight up until the big ending.  I do hope she continues with these characters and town. As I said, it has great series potential.  Do yourself a favour and get a copy.  It’s a wonderful Christmas read that won’t disappoint.

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Alison’s love of the romance genre goes all the way back to her high school years when she gobbled up every Harlequin novel she could get her hands on. Back then, she never dreamed of writing her own stories. But years later, her inner writer emerged and she’s now a multi-published author of contemporary romance.

When she’s not plotting her next book, she hangs out with her adorable rescue dog, Bailey, consumes more chocolate than she should, and spends time with her friends and family.

Visit her website at www.alisonpackard.com to subscribe to her newsletter, get information about previous books, and updates about upcoming releases.

Follow Alison:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Bookbub | Amazon | Goodreads

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6 thoughts on “Alison Packard – Second Chance Christmas

  1. Beatrice LaRocca says:

    Thank you for sharing your review of Second Chance Christmas, this sounds like a wonderful story and I am looking forward to reading it myself

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Hi Maggie…First, thank you for hosting Second Chance Christmas on your blog, and second, I’m thrilled you read and loved the book! I appreciate your lovely review more than I can say. Thank again! Wishing you a wonderful holiday season.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. debby236 says:

    Great review. I would like to read more.

    Liked by 2 people

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