Home for Christmas - Sanctuary Island series, Book 4
By Dorine Linnen
Oct 18, 2015 - 7:53:00 PM

Elizabeth "Libby" Leeds and Owen Shepard are new characters in the SANCTUARY ISLAND series. Libby's grandfather is Dabney Leeds and Owen's sister is Sherriff Andie, so they have ties to the community. An entertaining holiday commences with these newcomers, including cameo appearances of characters from previous books, along with a few surprises.

Libby Leeds is a very unusual heroine because she has been living a lie and you'll wonder how she'll be redeemed. I enjoyed her story and her character development. Owen Shepard is a war hero and although he was severely injured, he has great hope to return to his team in Afghanistan. But first, Owen must do rehabilitation on Sanctuary Island at the therapy stables and spend Christmas with the daughter he has never met.

Determined to give the daughter he's just getting to know the best Christmas ever, Sergeant Shepard agrees to spend the holiday with acclaimed magazine columnist Libby Leeds and her family. Libby has no idea that the life and lie she has been living is about to be exposed when she admires a video of Sergeant Shepard's story. When her boss springs the idea on her that she'll be hosting the famous war veteran at her non-existent home in Sanctuary Island, Libby can do nothing but tell the truth.

Libby's boss is a shrewd businessman and although he's angry about her deception, he convinces Libby to continue living her lie until the holidays are over when he'll force her into retirement. Libby's only concern is the money she needs for her uncle's care with early onset Alzheimer's, so she's determined to keep her job. Can Libby convince Owen, her boss and her fans that she's really America's best loved hostess? Can she make her fictional life her dream come true? Not without a few mishaps that will endear Libby and her extended family to you along the way.

I love the SANCTUARY ISLAND series so I was very excited to read this fourth novel. I think because I've read all the books in this series, I was having a bit of trouble believing that none of the islanders questioned Libby's authenticity. Her fans thought she lived on Sanctuary Island, so I thought someone on the island would have read her columns and wondered where she lived. To anyone reading this book without reading the others first, I don't think that will be questioned.

My favorite features of this series is the quirkiness of the people and the islanders' values. Although there was humor in this novel, I felt that some of the sparkle was missing. I can't pinpoint exactly why I felt that way. Maybe because the characters I was most attached to didn't have appearances in this novel, or that I didn't have an emotional connection to either of the leads initially. I missed the scenes with the wild horses and I don't remember much page time involving the therapy stables. Maybe I just needed or wanted more, and that can't be a bad thing. I guess that's it - I wanted more details about the couple's interactions with others prior to the family dinner so that I felt more of a connection to them.

Even considering my nitpickings, I'm still mesmerized by Lily Everett's talent. I gobbled up this book like candy and the family dinner was entertaining. Ms. Everett's magic is creating unusual characters who are lovable, deserving and endearing. HOME FOR CHRISTMAS is a great story for small town romance lovers, filled with holiday preparations, unexpected guests and a super sweet ending to melt your heart.

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