A Soldier Under Her Tree
A Soldier Under Her Tree is a sweet-natured romance about difficult families, a friends to lovers romance, and a healthy reunion between a woman and her love of the Christmas season.
Hannah Carpenter is concerned with getting things on track for her bridal boutique as the Christmas season approaches. Hannah’s mind is solely on her finances and getting her close friend’s wedding dress completed – Christmas just hasn’t been the same since she caught her married sister and her ex-fiancée in bed together three years before. Worse yet, her mother Eleanor took her sister’s side in the interfamily kerfuffle. Hannah moved to Sweet Briar, North Carolina, to get away from the drama, so when Eleanor shows up out of nowhere to try to broker a truce between the sisters – followed by Dinah and Gerald, the sister and the ex (who is now engaged to Dinah) Hannah is less than pleased. Dinah and Eleanor want Hannah to design a wedding dress for Dinah, which is, understandably, not a palatable notion, and in spite of family pressure, Hannah refuses to do the labor for them – emotional or physical.
Walking into the middle of Hannah’s stressful day is Russell Danielson, the brother of a close friend, who pulls her into a toe-curling kiss and helps dispatch her relatives, all the while pretending to be her boyfriend. When they’re gone, Hannah and Russell talk it out – and he agrees to continue to pretend to be her boyfriend throughout the holiday season.
Russell – who served in Afghanistan – is still healing from the wounds that trouble him, and he’s come to Sweet Briar to hide out for a while. His impulsive protection of Hannah also has a side-benefit for himself – his mega-successful family won’t be able to make hay over him not having a girlfriend. He hopes to apply his degree in child psychology to a career, but right now he’s focused on the worry that he’ll never physically be back to where he was.
Into the holidays go Russell and Hannah – and into love they begin to fall. Russell even convinces Hannah to start celebrating Christmas again. But with her family still around and his uncertainty about the future looming over them, will friends become lovers?
A Soldier Under Her Tree is a nice, smooth experience. It’s about building a healthy romance and finding healthy relationships when portions of your own family are too toxic to bear.
I loved Russell and Hannah both. Hannah has a spine and verve and talent, and Russell has heart and determination. They’re both understandably reluctant about commitment, and it makes sense that their romance is a slow burn that takes them from friends to lovers.
Multiple characters from the Sweetbriar Sweethearts series pop up, and in that, the book can be a little difficult to follow as a newbie to the series. It isn’t completely incomprehensible, however, which makes it accessible enough to new readers. And the way the book is perfumed with the joy of Christmas, and the reclamation of that joy, is wonderful to behold.
My biggest problem with the story is that the conflict is a little slow-moving. It takes a while for the plot to move but that’s fine, when one is enveloping oneself in the smooth, rich, comforting embrace of such a lovely story. Also Eleanor and Dinah aren’t very complex villains, but they’re still decent obstacles.
A Soldier Under Her Tree is a lovely, kind romance that’s a pleasing way to continue your holiday festivities.