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September 6, 2023

Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews ~ a Review

by Donna Huber

Kerry is at loose ends after being made redundant after the ad agency she worked for merged with another larger company. Back home in North Carolina, she hasn't figured out what to do next but she knows staying in the small town is not what she wants. When her father has a heart attack and can't make the annual trip to New York City to sell the family's Christmas trees. Her brother can't do the trip on his own so Kerry is roped into. While she can't imagine a worse time than spending a month with a taciturn brother she barely knows in an old "spam can" camper that doesn't have a working toilet or stove, perhaps NYC at Christmas will work its magic on her.

Amazon affiliate links are used on this site. A free book was provided for an honest review.

book cover of Christmas novel Bright Lights, Big Christmas by Mary Kay Andrews
September 2023;  St. Martin's Press; 978-1250285812
audio, ebook, print (288 pages); Christmas

I'm sure many Mary Kay Andrews fans like me were disappointed that there wasn't a new summer book this year. Thankfully there is a new Christmas book. Bright Light, Big Christmas is a great way to kick off the holiday season, and whether you are a MKA fan or just a fan of Christmas books you will want to start Christmas with MKA!

I don't usually like starting Christmas books until after Thanksgiving, but I just couldn't wait to start this book. And as I knew would happen as soon as I started it, I couldn't put it down - I read it in a day!

The characters are wonderful. I liked that they were a little older than you typically get in Christmas rom-coms. Kerry is in her 30s and her brother Murphy is in his 40s. I loved all the characters in the neighborhood where they set up their tree stand in NYC. 

I was a little afraid that there would be a country bumpkin in the sophisticated Big Apple type plot line. But there isn't. Kerry's family has been selling trees in this neighborhood for at least 3 generations and the neighborhood is very welcoming to them - they let them use the bathroom, shower, eat, and do laundry in their homes and businesses. And this is a well-to-do area where you would expect snobs. I mean who carries around $200+ in cash on them when they are on their way to the gym to do pilates?

The dynamic between Kerry and her brother is good. Their parents divorced when Kerry was 7 and she went to live in town with their mother while her brother stayed on the farm with their dad. So they don't really know each other. Murphy is short-tempered but I don't think he really means to be. He has the weight of keeping the farm going as the next generation of Tollivers and that weight is even heavier now that their dad has had a heart attack. I don't think Kerry gives him enough credit either. I think the trip is good for their relationship.

The main focus though of the story is Kerry finding herself and determining what she wants out of life. And the trip to NYC definitely brings into focus where her true passion lies. 

As this is a Christmas book, there is, of course, some romance. Bright Lights, Big Christmas is a clean romance. The Christmas tree-selling business doesn't really lend itself to traditional dating so much of the getting-to-know-you phase takes place on the tree lot.

I liked the setting of the Christmas tree stand. It's a different setting but it works really well for this sweet Christmas book. 

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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