Alexis Blake has one chance to land her own show on the Home Project Network and nothing-not an uncooperative client, a job site without indoor plumbing, or a challenging videographer-is going to stand in her way. Elsie, at seventy-plus, is far from the ideal client, but she knows exactly what she wants her fieldstone house to look like, and no designer can tell her otherwise. Gabe Langley, the man with the camera, is caught in the middle and it is his wisdom and warmth that just may be the bridge that will bring these two women together. Can they restore more than just a house and bring about special, almost lost forever Christmas memories?
Interior designer Alexis Blake, based in Algoma, Wisconsin, is challenged to do a complete home remodel in just eight weeks, a project that could potentially put her name on the map in the home design industry. One other challenge -- the process is to be televised!
Alexis goes to meet with George Langely, a seasoned videographer she's hired to film the project. The surprise and dismay she's hit with when she discovers George has suffered a back injury that will have him out of service for a minimum of several weeks! George sends a Plan B in his stead: his grown son Gabe, also an experienced cameraman.
That's only the start of the hangups & hiccups of this reno. Alexis goes on to battle weather delays, crew disputes, and a myriad of stress sandwiches centered around a money pit of a farmhouse (the one Alexis is expected to turn around) and its cranky, elderly owner, Elsie Raymond. But let's not let Alexis off lightly. Nope, let's also add in her having to camp at the Langely residence when her hotel in town is hit by a skunk attack and no other rooms appear to be available anywhere else in town for the next eight weeks she needs to complete this challenge.
This little novel has a limited amount of space to present and then solve all these issues, but somehow our MC Alexis pulls through. Not well, mind you, not IMO... but she at least gets the job done on some level.
So how can I love the first Christmas story so much but leave this book with a 2 rating? Believe me, I'm as surprised and disappointed as you are! Not that this story didn't have its merits... there were just a lot of things that didn't work for me this time around. Let me break it down:
* Truth be told, Alexis is one seriously irritating MC most of the time. Nearly everything seems to annoy her on some level. Girl has zero chill. As charming as Gabe is, he deserves a better female counterpart.
* It also strikes me that Alexis is not all that great a designer if she's ONLY interested in foisting her own design plans on her client without listening --- really listening --- to any of their ideas, concerns, likes / dislikes, etc. She deems these kinds of clients as "uncooperative" and only seems concerned with advancing her career, not honestly taking into consideration that someone has to actually LIVE in the place after she leaves. Might want to incorporate at least a few things THEY might like. Just sayin'.
* I had a hard eyeroll when I read that Gabe and Alexis were inspired by real-life flippers Chip and JoAnna Gaines from HGTV's Fixer Upper. I know they have their fanbase, and if you're in that group -- here you go, this book's for you. I personally find them a bit cringe.
I loved Elsie, the prickly, elderly homeowner. She likes what she likes and is unapologetic about it. Her way of being endearing in a rough-around-the-edges way was adorable (if you've known those kinds of people in your life and know how to love them). I loved her reveal of where she goes when she takes off for days on end!
The jokes and dialogue ran somewhat corny. The Christmas holiday IS mentioned throughout this storyline, but the overall cozy vibes of the season were not as noticeable as in The Endless Christmas. That was my main issue with Restoring Christmas -- while I loved Elsie and the Langely men, much of the story was just so SLOW and DRY. For such a short book, I was struggling to just finish it already.
I also think it was a bad move on Ruchti's part to force readers to go online to find out the full ending to this book. Way to isolate and cheat some of your readership.
FTC Disclaimer: Worthy Publishing kindly provided me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.