Magic in the Snow by Ryan Jo Summers

Magic in the Snow by Ryan Jo Summers
Publisher: Melange Books
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday, Romance
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Mistflower

He’s the town scrooge.
She blew in like a candy-coated snowstorm.
Can a young boy’s belief in magic bring them together?

The ink is barely dry from her divorce when Dawson Patrick and her three-year-old Autistic son, Adam, arrive in Cedar Falls, Maine. She’s here to help her aging father and doesn’t plan to stay long. Soon she and Adam will be on their way somewhere…to a new life.

When she finds her dad sitting in a cold house that’s falling around him, with little food, she realizes she might have a bigger problem on her hands. To make matters worse, she has no idea where to start on her long list of home improvement. She needs books on lots of DIY projects, and the man to help her is the local Christmas scrooge.

Samuel Johnson owns Chapter Twenty-Five Bookstore. He doesn’t enjoy the holiday season and he doesn’t ‘do’ gifts. He just happens to live in a town that wholeheartedly embraces it, so he’s learned to adapt and lay low to escape the memories of many an unhappy Christmas past. He can’t believe the blonde beauty who marches into his store like a candy-coated snowstorm, along with her pint-sized elfin toddler, and orders up a stack of DIY home repair books. Before Samuel knows it, he’s letting Dawson and Adam drag him to the town’s tree lighting ceremony, convincing him to foster kittens, and to give gifts.

Has Dawson just returned home to forget her past, only to slide into another relationship? Has the town scrooge finally seen the Christmas lights?

Magic in the Snow is a sweet, heartwarming and entertaining read. It has an original plot with a lot of potential. I really connected with it because the heroine, Dawson, has a son named Adam who is suspected to be high functioning autistic even though he wasn’t actually diagnosed by a doctor in the story.

Dawson and Peter, Adam’s biological dad, had just resolved a speedy divorce when this story starts. The reason Peter walked out was because they “suspected Adam to be autistic”. Peter even gives up his parental rights. That’s a pretty harsh decision from only suspecting a child isn’t “average”, especially since my impression of Adam was that he was not on the spectrum. I was really happy that Peter didn’t show back up in the story. I would have had a huge issue with that.

The story alludes to Dawson making an appointment to confirm what is suspected but doesn’t reveal the outcome of that doctor visit. I have a highly functioning autistic child and I have my teaching degree in Early Childhood Education. It’s a broad statement to say one is on the spectrum because autism isn’t the same for each child. Based on what I read, Adam may not be on the Autistic spectrum because he didn’t exhibit the classic red flags or triggers of being autistic. The only criteria Adam met was non-verbal and that can be attributed to having a mild speech delay, Apraxia or even a processing disorder. I have a sensitivity about the labeling of children, especially without a proper medical diagnosis.

Dawson meets the hero, Samuel, who apparently can relate to her son since he himself is considered to be on the spectrum. Samuel has other childhood trauma issues to resolve before he can give his heart away. Samuel did appeal to me as someone I could fall in love with. He and Dawson made for a sweet romance with some heartwarming kisses.

Another thread in the story is about the heroine’s father. Since Dawson is recently divorced, she is able to step up and help her aging dad, Lloyd. She moves in with him temporarily to access what she needs to do to help him and discovers her dad in dire straits. The heroine ends up as a single mother trying to “do it all”. There is mention of the heroine having a brother throughout the story, but I don’t ever get to meet him. Dawson says she’s going to call him but never does. Thank goodness Samuel is extremely supportive and helpful.

Another thing about the hero is that he’s observant. The author touched upon another emotional topic by having Samuel suspect that Dawson’s dad might be showing signs of dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Unfortunately, even though Lloyd is taken to the doctors, I was left wondering about the outcome. The author never shared. Based only on what I read, Lloyd does appear to be symptomatic of a person suffering from Alzheimer’s.

There is more to this story without giving spoilers. There were some good times, sad times, frustrating times and sighs of relief at times. There were just a few too many unanswered questions for me. For example, I met Samuel’s mother only one time because she made a surprise visit. That visit didn’t go very well and Samuel was planning on having another conversation with her. I would have loved to have heard what was said but the story ended before they got to talk. I’m very detail oriented and I like all my plot threads tied up in a pretty bow. While I enjoyed how the story ended, I would have appreciated an epilogue.

Overall, this really was an entertaining read. I enjoyed the small-town Christmas atmosphere. There was no doubt that the Christmas magic was in the air, leaving the reader filled with hope and wonder. Dawson, Samuel and Adam made the perfect family. I’ve never read a Ryan Jo Summers book before but I would like to try to read another one in the future. Happy Reading!

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