Author: Nicki Edwards
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: November 1, 2019
Copy: Purchased personal copy

I have long been a fan of Nicki Edwards, and I thought I could claim having read all her work but a Goodreads update tells me that I missed one so I will be sure to rectify that sometime soon.

Sitting down with a Nicki Edwards story I just know I’m in for an emotional ride with characters who have been hurt and find it hard to open themselves to new relationships.

Second Chance Christmas brings together two people who have been deeply hurt, by each other, and a husband trying to convince his wife to reconcile instead of going through with a divorce.

Jake Carter is a gorgeous, talented and career-driven Australian chef with a popular restaurant and celebrity status for his successful cooking show. He has a restaurant in Noosa and is working on opening a new on in Melbourne.

Olivia Carter is a single mother in Canada raising her four year-old daughter Scarlett and taking care of her aging Grandmother. She has been back in Canada for eighteen months and is just getting her life together and carving out a new routine.

Looking out for Scarlett’s best interests and trying to give her what she would want the most for Christmas Olivia has invited her ex-husband Jack to spend Christmas with them. What seemed like such a good idea at the time has her on the verge of panic as his impending arrival draws closer.

It is telling that Olivia has kept the visit from Jack a secret, from everyone. There was a part of her that didn’t expect him to make it, even though it had been planned for months she was waiting for the phone call that said something came up at work and he couldn’t make it, and she didn’t want to her daughter to deal with that disappointment; it would be better if she just had the beautiful surprise on the off chance he actually made it.

From the minute Jack arrives there’s anew dynamic, he claims to have changed but Olivia is still too hurt to dare to trust. He says all the right things, but he always has been a smooth talker and he’s always been so well scripted for the cameras that she’s not sure how sincere his words are now. It’s easy to make big promises and even to show that things have changed when you’re halfway across the world from your job but what happens when the holiday is over? Olivia is afraid, she’s afraid of what could happen, for herself and for Scarlett. She knows what it’s like to have an absent father that constantly breaks his promises and that’s not what she wants for Scarlett.

I loved everything about Second Chance Christmas. The setting for a start; Nicki brought Niagara-on-the-Lake to life with her vivid descriptions and who doesn’t love the idea of a white Christmas. But it was more than just the town, it was also the community and the people.

Jack arrives in Canada knowing that he loves and misses his wife and daughter, he wants to convince Olivia to give them a second chance. His aim is to show her that he has changed and return to his career and their home in Australia. He knows she loves Canada and that it’s the home she packed her bags and left to be with him but his game plan is still to have her return home with him.

Second Chance Christmas is very much a character driven story, told from dual third person perspectives in alternating chapters. Olivia and Jack both get the limelight and we get into their heads enough to see what’s going on between the lines; there’s always more to their interactions than just what they say out loud.

It isn’t just Jack and Olivia that you will fall in love with in Second Chance Christmas, the cast of secondary characters are also a treat.

Scarlett is a precocious four-year old that you can’t help but fall in love with. She has the cute, the clever and the sass that often goes with the territory with that age group and Edwards has captured it beautifully.

Olivia’s Gran is a wise and endearing woman who is struggling with the obstacles aging has thrown in her path. It’s hard for a community minded, active woman who loves to be involved, and to cook, to lose her eyesight and find that her independence is sorely tested. She has retained her positive outlook and adjusted to the new challenges as best she can. She may not be able to see what’s going on around her but she’s very switched on and knows what’s going on around her. I found her a real treat to read.

The focus though is always on Jack and Olivia and what’s going on in their heads and their hearts.

The time that they have together in Niagara-on-the-Lake gives them opportunities to talk and with all Jack’s professions of change, he is given the opportunity to prove that he has. He takes the time to open himself up and encourage Olivia to talk to him so they can work through what went wrong. Edwards demonstrates what we all know in theory, Communication is key. Olivia kept so many things to herself and now that they are talking they both realise that things weren’t quite what they seemed.

Olivia was hurting so deeply, and holding on to that hurt so hard, that it made it difficult for her to see past it. She had held on to the hurt and allowed it to colour her memories so that she didn’t see the whole picture. Second Chance Christmas is as much about her unpacking the hurt and beginning to see the whole picture of her marriage as it is about Jack’s play for a second chance at her heart.

It’s only a ten day holiday that Jack has booked and from day one he wonders if it’s going to be enough time. He finds a lot more than he bargained for in Niagara-on-the-Lake because unlike when he was there before on holidays with Olivia now he is here visiting Olivia in her hometown and he sees a completely different picture. How much of that is because he is seeing it as her hometown and how much of it is that he is taking a more objective view than the self-centred view he may have had previously? That’s anyone’s guess really but I think it’s a bit of both.

A short holiday is definitely enough to turn everyone’s life upside down but you’ll have to read it to discover how it turns out.

I would definitely recommend Second Chance Christmas to lovers of emotional character driven stories. There are some beautiful scenes painted of places I never would have dreamed of but Edwards drew them so well that I could see them in my mind, and would love to see them in person.

If you are familiar with Nicki Edwards this is not one to miss and if you haven’t read any of her work then it’s as good a place as any to start, you won’t be disappointed.

I have previously reviewed all of Nicki Edwards books over at Beauty and Lace, if you’re interested you can find them HERE.

You can follow Nicki on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

Second Chance Christmas is book #2 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2020.