REVIEW: Hanukkah Hearts by Jean Joachim
Relocated to New York City from the Midwest, Becky Cohen follows her dream by snagging a choice entry level job at Homes and Ralph Publishing. Hanukkah is not a recognized holiday there, so Becky must remain in New York.
Squished into a tiny two-bedroom apartment with three young women, Becky misses her family’s home and the rowdy companionship of her brothers. She plans to Skype with her family during their Hanukkah celebration, until her father declares that “Hanukkah’s been cancelled.”
Fighting a serious case of pneumonia, Becky’s mother is rushed to the hospital. Devastated to be removed from her loved ones during this trying time, Becky’s amazed to find a new gift appears on her desk every day. Who’s responsible? He signs his name only, “The Hanukkah Elf.” Does she figure out who her benefactor is? Read the story to find out.
Dear Ms. Joachim,
I’ve been looking for holiday novellas outside of Christmas and after reading the except, decided to try “Hanukkah Hearts.” The idea of a Hanukkah Elf sounded cute and I liked the fact that the heroine, Becky, was following her dreams and making them happen.
Becky knew she wouldn’t be home in Milwaukee with her family for most of Hanukkah but the news of her mother’s illness and hospital admission has hit Becky hard. Workplace hunk Sam was there with a handkerchief and shoulder for Becky to cry on but he’s off-limits since he’s dating her boss. Still his kindness gets Becky settled and able to enjoy lighting the first candle even if she isn’t skyping it with her family.
Arriving at work the next morning, Becky is astonished to find her co-workers buzzing around her desk trying to figure out who left Becky a wrapped package. After determining that no one needs to call a bomb squad, she opens it to find a gift tailored just for her. Rampant speculation grips the department as gifts continue to appear at her desk obviously chosen by someone who knows that her family has pugs, she likes “Pride and Prejudice,” and has always wanted to see “The Nutcracker.” The last night that the department closes for Christmas Becky will find out who her mysterious “Elf” is. Will it be someone she wants it to be?
“Hanukkah Hearts” is a nice, quick holiday read. The identity of the “Elf” really isn’t much of a mystery but I, along with Becky’s co-workers, had fun watching her days be lightened by his thoughtful gifts and obvious effort to cheer her up. I also enjoyed the glimpses of Becky at work discovering the next hot romance book and then seeing her hard work begin to pay off for her. I did wonder that she doesn’t at least call home more often to check up on her sick mother though. The hero is that wonderful romance construct – the perfect man. He’s attentive, kind, handsome, successful, understanding, and a great kisser and lover. Yep, he’s too good to be true but nice to read about every now and then.
By the end of the story, life is pretty much perfect. Becky’s mom is out of the hospital and back cooking for her husband and sons who apparently can’t boil water. Becky and her Elf are seemingly set to start a conflict free romance. And Becky got to spend the last two days of Hanukkah with family, exchanging the thoughtful and silly gifts they’ve always enjoyed getting for each other. B