The Christmas Blanket
by Kandi Steiner
From bestselling author Kandi Steiner comes a cozy second-chance romance about love, loss, and adventure...
When I decided to surprise my family in Wellhaven, Vermont for Christmas, I never could have known that I'd get a surprise of my own -- in the form of an unexpected blizzard.
I haven't been home in four years, not since I left this town with my eyes set on adventure.
And my heart set on forgetting the only man I’ve ever loved.
River Jensen -- my ex-husband.
I don't plan on seeing him during my visit. I definitely don't plan on him saving me when my little rental car slides off the icy road. And the last thing I could have ever prepared for is being stuck in a tiny cabin with him, waiting out the storm.
Four years have passed since I've seen him -- the boy I loved, now a man I don't know at all.
But being stuck inside with him leaves us nothing but time together.
Everything about him has changed, and yet, he still has the same forest green eyes that have haunted me since I left. Back then, we were at an impasse. Back then, there was nothing left to talk about, nothing left to fix. Back then, the only choice I had was to leave and start anew.
But the more I re-discover the man I left behind, the more I question why I ever left at all.
And if I’m too late to find my way back home.
RATED: 18+ CATEGORY: MOOD:
Steamy Romance Emotional
The Christmas Blanket by Kandi Steiner is a standalone romance novella, centering on Eliza and River, high school sweethearts, who married right out of high school, only to divorce a few years later when Eliza started to feel trapped in their small town life, and wanted to travel the world. Fast forward to present time, Eliza has decided to fly back to the states to surprise her family for Christmas ... not knowing she would be arriving in a blizzard. When she hits black ice, and goes into a ditch, she is thankful when a man comes to her aid ... until she realizes that that man is her ex-husband. Forced to stay in his one room cabin to wait out the blizzard, Eliza learns more and more about what was happening behind the scenes when she making plans to leave, and she begins to wonder, why she left at all.
For a short little novella, my face hurts from crying. No joke. C.R.Y.I.N.G. Apparently I'm a sucker for a second chance type romance. I think I know why this book touched me in a way that I wasn't expecting. Because at one point, I was in that same predicament as Eliza.
For those who don't know me ... and let's face it, 99.9% of you don't, I met my now husband when I was 17. At 18 years old, I was waddling to our dinner and movie date for our one year anniversary. I was pregnant. I always knew I wanted kids, but I wasn't thinking of having them till I was at least 30. But I was happy. I loved my boyfriend. I loved my babies. Fast forward a few years later. I'm in my early twenties. I have twin toddlers. My boyfriend is now a fiancé. We lived in a small apartment, but we did okay. But for a couple of years, I was depressed. I saw pictures of friends my age travelling, experiencing things I wasn't experiencing. Getting degree's I once dreamed of getting. I was lost. My relationship suffered. Now, I didn't do what Eliza did. I stayed, and it worked out for me, because I eventually learned that while I envied my friends for their adventures, some of them wanted what I had: a family. A partner. Once I got past my depression, it clicked how lucky I was. So in many ways, this short little book I finished in a couple of hours brought all that back.
Needless to say, I'm a mess.
Listen. For a novella, I became fully immersed in these characters, and this world. The writing is very well done, it brought all the feels ... including holiday feels ... and frankly, it is the best thing I have read available on kindle unlimited to date. So, I think I will be exploring some of Kandi Steiner's other romances in the 2021 year. <3
River taking her suitcase out of her car when she was refusing to leave it
River still having the dog they owned together
Discovering he kept their Christmas ornaments, including the Star Wars figurines Eliza gave him one year (I loved this, because our Christmas tree is covered in Star Wars figurines)
The memory of the Christmas Blanket
Truth or Dare
River telling Eliza why he didn't fight for her to stay, and admitting he still loves her
Where to Buy
"I am lost without you. What a hauntingly beautiful thing to say to a person - that whether you are off on another wild adventure or in the familiar quiet comfort of your very own home, you are all the same, enormously lost, whenever you are without them." - Beau Taplin
River: "I know this isn't what either of us pictured when we thought of our first Christmas together. God knows I wish I could give you everything you've ever dreamed of, Eliza. I wish I could give you the house and the yard and the big tree and the kitchen of your dreams. But, tale this blanket as a promise. This is my promise that I will work hard all my life, to give you everything I can. I will do everything in my power to get you that house, to shower you in gifts, to make all your dreams come true."
He leaned in to press a kiss to my lips, long and slow.
River: "And I will never stop fighting for us."
Eliza: "You are the only gift I have ever wanted or needed. You are the best gift I have ever been given."
I shook my head
Eliza: "I'm sorry that I lost sight of that."
River: "One day, you'll have I all."
Eliza: "I already do."
Eliza: "Come on. It'll be fun. And tell you what - I'll even give you a skip. If I ask you something you don't want to answer, or dare you to do something you don't want to do, you can use it."
A heavy breath came from his throat as he poured.
He peeked at me with a grin, and then shook his head.
River: "Fine. But I want two skips."
River: "Hey, I just know how dirty you can play this game, and I'm not trying to go streaking in a snowstorm."
Eliza: "Aw, dang it - you took my first idea!"
River: "Laugh while you can, because I'm going to get you back. Truth or dare?"
He glared at me.
River: "Now who's the chicken shit?"
I stuck my tongue out, sipping on my eggnog while I waited for him to ask his question.
River: "Alright. How many people have you slept with?"
River's gaze didn't change. His forest green eyes held mine until I could no longer stand the way he stared at me, the way he was looking through my answer like there was something more behind it.
I cleared my throat.
Eliza: "Truth or dare?"
he croaked out.
River: "And just in case you're wondering, it's one for me, too."
Eliza: "Truth or dare?"
Eliza: "Did you ever miss me, after I left?"
He shook his head, the muscles of his jaw ticking, nose flaring, hands still pulling me in, closer, closer.
River: "Only every day, Eliza. Every hour. Every minute. Every second you've been gone."
River: "When I saw it all, and listened to you talking about getting away, about how this town was suffocating you, how you felt stuck ... Eliza, I couldn't tell you. Not then."
Eliza: "But you should have. I ... I could have stayed. I would have stayed."
River: "And that's exactly the problem! Don't you see? My dad was already dying. And if you would have stayed, you would have died, too. This town was killing you. I was killing you - your spirit, your dreams, your love and vivaciousness for life. I was holding you back from where you wanted to be ... from who you wanted to be."
I shook my head, over and over, the tears falling harder now.
Eliza: "You should have told me. You should have given me a choice. You ... you didn't fight for me. You just let me go."
River: "And I regret that mistake. I have every minute since the one where I lost you. But I loved you, Eliza. I loved you. So I let you go."
His hands reached out, framing my face, his eyes searching mine as he shook his head like every word was the most horrible truth.
River: "And damn it if I don't love you still."
Beth: "Let me ask you this, sis. When you left, you said you were off to find adventure. You've been gone for four years now. You've seen dozens of different countries, hundreds of cities and towns and farms and lakes and rivers. You've spoken new languages, maybe even found a new version of yourself, too. But tell me this .. have you found what you're looking for yet? Because if you haven't, maybe it's because you've been looking in the wrong places. Maybe it's because it's been right here, in the town that built you, all along."
Eliza: "What do I do now?"
To which she responded with only a smile and a kiss to my forehead as she stood and grabbed my plate off the table.
Beth: "You eat this pie. And then, you go home."
My Dearest River.
Eliza: "I think I went looking for adventure, but what I didn't realize was that I left the best one behind."
At that, he stopped turning the pages, holding the book open in his hands and looking at me, instead. His eyes flicked back and forth between mine, and when a sheen of gloss covered them, emotion stole my next breath, tears building in my own eyes.
Eliza: "You are my adventure, River. Just as much as you are my home."
I didn't miss the quiver of his bottom lip where he kept it buckled, or the way his next breath shuddered a bit with the effort to bring new oxygen into his lungs.
And I just shrugged, knowing there was no other way to put it.
Eliza: "I am lost without you."
River: "One year. One year of going, doing, seeing. One year of exploring together. Then, we can decide what we want, where we want to settle - if we want to settle at all. When you left, I let you go. I chose to stay here with my father, and I don't ... I don't know that I regret that choice, because I loved those last months I had with my father. With my mother. But I lost you in the process. And now that I have you again, now that I know you were always mine just as I was always yours ... I don't want to make another mistake. So, let's go. Let's see it all before we make a decision about what happens next."
Eliza: "You really mean it?"
River: "Yeah. Yeah, I really do. I want you, Eliza. And I want you to have your adventure, too."
Eliza: "I think I've already had it."
River: "I think it's only just begun."