Book Review: A Christmas by The Sea

23 Sep

When Wendy Harper inherits her family’s beachside cottage in Seaside, Maine, she sees it as a way to finally pay off the debts that have mounted since her husband died. But before it can be sold, the neglected property must be renovated. She and her 12-year-old son Jackson move in — temporarily, she reminds him–in order to do the work themselves, even though Christmas is coming. The charming town, along with local craftsman Caleb Colton, pulls on both Wendy and Jackson, who even registers himself for school in a bid to get his mom to move them there permanently. Wendy knows that the most responsible thing to do is to sell the cottage and return to Ohio, but the lure of the sea is hard to resist.


Melody Carlson has written more than 200 books (with sales around 6.5 million) for teens, women and children. That’s a lot of books, but mostly she considers herself a “storyteller.” Her novels range from serious issues like schizophrenia (Finding Alice) to lighter topics like house-flipping (A Mile in My Flip-Flops) but most of the inspiration behind her fiction comes right out of real life. Her young adult novels (Diary of a Teenage Girl, TrueColors,etc.) appeal to teenage girls around the world. Her annual Christmas novellas become more popular each year. She’s won a number of awards (including Romantic Time’s Career Achievement Award, the Rita and the Gold Medallion) and some of her books have been optioned for film/TV. Carlson has two grown sons and makes her home in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and yellow Lab dog. To find out more about Melody Carlson, visit her website at


My Impressions:

A Christmas by The Sea is a charming novella with a quaint coastal Maine setting. Featuring a young single mother and her preteen son, the book celebrates the power of place and family and the presence of God. Wendy Harper and son, Jackson, make their way to Seaside after a few years of struggle and heartache. Wendy had grown up visiting the cottage she has inherited and treasures the memories from happier days. Jackson wants a new start for his small family and does his best to influence Wendy into staying put in the welcoming town. Enter Caleb, a business owner even more charming than the town. Everything is set for a heartwarming tale of love.

I loved the setting of A Christmas by The Sea. Maine has long been on my bucket list of must-see destinations, and the fictional town that Carlson has created just reinforces that desire. I hope the real thing will live up to the great fictional world of Seaside! Characters are real and relatable in their struggles, doubts, fears, hopes, and dreams. I especially liked Jackson and his determination to find happiness for his mom. The book is short, so the action comes fast. The romance probably develops a bit more rapidly than in real life, but I didn’t mind. This is a Christmas romance after all! The theme of God’s provision is naturally woven throughout the narrative –but it’s never preachy.

If you are looking for a quick and cozy Christmas read, A Christmas by The Sea fits the bill. It is a recommended read.


Audience: adults.

To purchase, click HERE.

(Thanks to Revel for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

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