"Please don't push me away," he says, kissing me gently. I kiss him back, holding onto him tightly, hoping, praying for this moment to never ever end. Our kisses become more passionate, and I can barely even feel the cold around me from the warmth in my heart.
Set amid the sandy beaches and picturesque landscape of Jekyll Island, Georgia, CHRISTMAS ON THE BEACH follows the story of Aria, a sensitive young woman who settled on the island two years previously to follow her dream of being a painter.
On a brisk December morning, as she searches for inspiration along the water, her heart is consumed by feelings of loneliness. Though she has been blessed to live her dream as an artist, Aria knows that something is missing. It is at that moment that she first sees Erik – strikingly handsome, yet unassuming, with chocolate brown eyes that capture her imagination. While they only exchange pleasantries before parting ways, Erik remains in Aria's thoughts and, when she encounters him again in a local coffee shop, she invites him to join her for conversation.
Though they have only recently met, Erik confides in her that he tragically lost his parents in his original home of South Korea. His visit to the island had been designed to include them and he is honoring the intended visit with a heavy heart. Sensing his need for connection, Aria offers to show him the natural beauty of the island.
From that moment, their romance becomes a whirlwind as they lose themselves in sweet adventures, from sharing hot cocoa and watching movies to decorating for Christmas and slow dancing to the music in the hearts. After their courtship culminates in an intimate night together, Aria is devastated to hear that Erik is considering returning to South Korea...
A clean love story with compelling romantic moments, CHRISTMAS ON THE BEACH is likely to be enjoyed by many readers of wholesome holiday romance.
The novella's unusual location and engaging, cross-cultural relationship, lend a unique feel to the story and contribute to a memorable reading experience – quite an achievement in a subgenre that is heavily constrained by its focus on Christmas-specific themes.
That being said, I would remiss if I didn't point out that Tori L. Wilson's writing style does leave some room for improvement. The flow of her writing is often weighed down by extraneous details and her dialogue could be tightened. Transitions between ideas could also be more fully developed to reduce the disjointed feel that sometimes distracts from her otherwise promising storyline.
I would, however, note that at the time CHRISTMAS ON THE BEACH was published, Tori L. Wilson was an undergraduate student. CHRISTMAS ON THE BEACH is only her second story to be made available for purchase.
While these considerations will not necessarily change the reader's experience with this novella, the author's ability to successfully complete and publish stories is an accomplishment at any age and is especially laudable for a student. With plenty of time to grow into her narrative voice and practice the finer points of fiction writing, I can easily envision this author making a meaningful impact on her genre.
In the meantime, I would encourage readers to consider CHRISTMAS ON THE BEACH for a sentimental holiday story told in the exuberant voice of a young and promising author.