Morning walks with her dog, Walter, is one of Olivia Santini’s favourite things, but it’s extra special today because it’s the morning after the first snowfall of the season. As if that isn’t enough, they also run into a beautiful woman who’s charming and asks for Olivia’s number, so they can get together for a coffee or a drink sometime.
With such an amazing start to her day, nothing’s going to get Olivia down—not even heading into work to meet the new boss who is taking the job that should be hers. After all, Olivia’s the main reason the Evergreen Resort and Spa managed to stay afloat under its last manager. Imagine Olivia’s surprise when her new boss strolls in more than half an hour late and it’s none other than Hayley, the beautiful woman she gave her number to.
After spending way too much money at a club one night, Hayley Boyd Markham has been put on a timeout by her dad, which means taking over running one of the family’s smaller resorts in upstate New York. Hayley’s grown up in hotels, but that doesn’t mean she knows anything about managing one, let alone turning around a failing resort, and her father’s orders include hiding the fact that she’s a Markham. Despite being an artist, and not a hotelier, Hayley’s determined to make it work anyway. Unfortunately, Hayley’s one bright spot in coming to the Evergreen has dimmed, since Olivia shuts Hayley out as soon as Olivia realizes Hayley’s the reason she didn’t get the manager position.
A funny thing happens along the way, because they have fabulous chemistry together. Plus, Olivia’s still a kind person, even when she’s frustrated, so she does silly things like invite Hayley to join her family for Thanksgiving dinner. But can anything come of their attraction, since Hayley is Olivia’s boss and a Markham?
One Walk in Winter is a Georgia Beers novel, so, of course the characters are likeable. I kind of want to throw a “’nuff said” down and move to the next section, but I won’t because that would be lazy.
Why are they likeable? They’re just so damn relatable. Olivia is a girl next door who’s smart, driven, and conscientious. Hayley is a total fish out of water as she’s trying to figure out how to run the Evergreen, but she doesn’t have a huge ego and is more than happy to take help and guidance as it comes to her.
Olivia runs a bit hot and cold with Hayley, which is both frustrating and understandable, and she sometimes ices her out when she can see that Hayley is out of her depth, because she can’t help getting mad all over again about being passed over for the manager job. But, like I mentioned above, their chemistry really is off the charts, so Olivia sometimes can’t stop herself from flirting or making a connection with Hayley.
Interestingly, Hayley’s dad is not only a part of the book, but some of the scenes come from his perspective (the others alternate between Hayley and Olivia’s perspectives). I didn’t particularly care for him for most of the book and thought he was a horse’s ass, but he has his own fully fledged journey too and I was happy to see his turnaround.
The Writing Style
This is a super easy book to get into and stick with. Beers has released a handful of workplace romances before and, while One Walk in Winter has elements that were reminiscent of some of them (especially Blend and Calendar Girl), she still delivered something fresh that didn’t feel like a retread of ground she’s already covered.
As always, Lori Prince did a superb job with the narration on this one. I’m especially impressed with how she voices male characters now, because that was something I had an issue with a year or two ago when I first started listening to books she’s performed.
There’s a scene about halfway through when Olivia and Hayley go for a walk at a fairy trail and it’s the cutest thing ever.
I also love how the story captures that winter and holiday feeling you get in the northern parts of North America. I know that may not resonate with all of our global readers, but as someone who grew up a reasonable drive from the setting of this book, it worked really well for me.
I don’t know if this is actually a con, but I don’t really know where else to put it.
There were two things that drove the big confrontation between them, which I was able to predict and found myself saying “oh no, come on…” You can probably guess one of them already, what with the edict that Hayley can’t let anyone at the resort know she’s a Markham. While I didn’t love that I was able to predict them, I was very happy with how everything resolves, which helped balance any frustration I might have had.
One Walk in Winter is a perfect book to curl up by a fire with, under a blanket and with a hot drink. It’s total winter escapism and well worth the time.
Excerpt from One Walk in Winter by Georgia Beers
“Are you here for long?” Olivia felt a small surge of disappointment at the thought of never seeing Hayley again, which she didn’t understand. At all. In her line of work, people came and went all the time. It never bothered her; it was the nature of her job. But she felt a very odd…“connection” was the only word she could come up with to describe how she was feeling. She felt a very odd connection to Hayley. Something she’d never felt before. It had her off-balance.
“I’m not sure yet.” Hayley squinted at the sky as if searching for the answer.
They reached the end of the path, which spat them out into the parking lot, where only two cars were parked. Oddly, they both seemed to stutter a bit in their forward momentum, taking what felt to Olivia like somewhat hesitant steps, as if not wanting the walk to end. Which, she knew, she didn’t. As she turned to try to put words to her thoughts, Hayley must’ve hit a small patch of ice.
It seemed to happen super fast and also in slow motion. Hayley’s arms flailed, Olivia reached out to catch her, and in the next moment, she was holding Hayley. Very tightly. Really close. Their faces were barely an inch apart as she stared into those eyes. Hayley’s skin was even more flawless this close up, her bottom lip full and pink. She smelled like cinnamon somehow.
Time seemed to stand still.
Hearts raced. Olivia could hear her own in her head and was pretty sure she could feel Hayley’s even through their winter gear.
A beat went by. Another.
Finally, they each slowly shifted, standing upright and putting a smidge more space between them. Probably for the best, Olivia thought, even though the rest of her body was crying out at the loss.
Hayley cleared her throat. “Thanks.”
“Sure. Falling’s no good.” Olivia cringed inside. Falling’s no good? Seriously, Liv?
“Well. I should probably get back.” Hayley jerked a thumb over her shoulder in the direction of her car.
“Yeah. Me too.” Olivia reached down to pet Walter, who had, surprisingly, sat quietly through the whole stumbling/catching event.
With a nod, Hayley turned toward the BMW, but then looked back at Olivia. “Maybe we could grab a drink or some coffee some time?”
Olivia pulled the back door of her SUV open so Walter could hop in. She didn’t turn around right away so Hayley wouldn’t see the goofy grin that had spread across her face. “I’d like that.” She pulled out her cell, then turned to face Hayley, who was now a good fifteen feet away, and that was too far, in Olivia’s opinion. “What’s your number?” Hayley rattled it off from her safe distance, and Olivia punched it into her phone. A few seconds later, Hayley’s phone pinged in her pocket. “There. Now you have mine, too.”
“Excellent.” Hayley smiled at her, and Olivia felt like it lit up her entire face. God, the woman was gorgeous. “I’ll text you.”
“I look forward to it.”
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Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 978-1635555417
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Audiobook Publisher: Bold Strokes Books Inc
Narrator: Lori Prince
Georgia Beers Online
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