Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball*
By: Donita K. Paul
About the book:
In a sleepy, snow-covered city, Cora Crowder is busy preparing for the holiday season. As she searches for a perfect gift, a fortuitous trip to Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s (a most unusual bookshop) leads to an unexpected encounter with co-worker Simon Derrick. And the surprising discovering of a ticket for a truly one-of-a-kind Christmas Ball.
Every year, the matchmaking booksellers of the Sage Street bookshop host an enchanting, old-fashioned Christmas Ball for the romantic matches they’ve decided to bring together.
This year, will Simon and Cora discover a perfect chemistry in their opposite personalities and shared faith? Or will the matchmakers’ best laid plans end up ruining everything this holiday?
If you’re looking for a charming, whimsical holiday read to get you in the Christmas spirit, look no further than Donita K. Paul’s delightful contemporary novella, Two Tickets to the Christmas Ball. When long-time co-workers Cora and Simon meet unexpectedly at the delightfully named Warner, Werner, and Wizbotterdad’s bookshop, they never expected to receive invitations to a ball that could change the course of their lives forever. But in order for the master matchmaking plan of the Wizards of Sage Street to work, Cora and Simon must each lay aside their preconceived ideas about faith, family, and each other, and risk everything on the possibility of love found in a most unconventional way.
Though Two Tickets is set in the present day, the charm and almost courtly appeal of the Christmas Ball made me feel like I was reading a story set at the turn of the 20th century. And with the rather reserved manner of the main characters and the magical aspect of the storyline this tale would fit comfortably in that time period. Since Paul is primarily known for her fantasy novels, she brings a unique and refreshing spin to this modern-day story of love and new beginnings to be found at Christmas, the most magical time of year in my opinion. The faith element may feel rather overt to some readers, but I found it flowed well within the context of the story and the characters’ personalities. And though brief, Paul’s treatment of Cora’s family troubles really shines in this novel – her struggle to reconcile her faith and her difficult, often outright hostile family felt absolutely genuine and authentic.
This little book begs to be made into a Christmas movie (Hallmark Channel please take note!). Its blend of faith, charm, and a dash of holiday magic would be the perfect addition to my Christmas movie collection. My only qualm with Two Tickets is that given the novella format, readers aren’t given enough time to see Simon and Cora’s relationship develop, and to further explore the delightful, magical Sage Street shopping district Paul has created. While I do feel that overall the faith and magical elements of the novella were integrated well within the confines of Paul’s contemporary setting, the manners and quirks of the setting and characters make me wish just a bit that this Christmas Ball was set in the early 1900’s. That setting would ideally fit the mood of this story. That qualm aside, Two Tickets is a fun diversion for fantasy and romance lovers looking to add a dash of whimsy to their Christmas reading.
*Side note: Isn't this the most gorgeous cover EVER? :)