Title: All’s Well in Jingle Valley
Author: Martha Reynolds
Genre: Women’s Fiction
This story works as a sequel to both A Jingle Valley Wedding and April in Galway, concluding the story threads that were started in both novels. While the novels in the rest of the series can stand alone, this one will likely appeal more to readers who have read both books.
The story explores Julie’s desire for a relationship and family against the backdrop of Freddy’s raising an adopted son with his husband, Bob. Woven throughout the story is the conclusion of April and Bill’s romance as they prepare for their upcoming wedding at Jingle Valley, while sorting through the challenges that present themselves in the shape of grown children, critical parents, and a past from which neither can escape.
The plot manages to cover a wide range of storylines, updating readers on the characters they met throughout the series without tying things up too neatly. There are still many questions left unanswered, to where the book feels like another moment in the characters’ lives and a future book could pick up the story yet again, continuing the progression of believable stories in this series.
The characters are nicely continued from the earlier books, and Freddy particularly shines, though the author manages to keep him from stealing the spotlight. He provides humor and flair in the midst of the other characters’ worries, but this story provides him with his own problems, giving him room to grow alongside the others.
All four main characters get a turn to share their concerns and show how the years have passed, with the exception of Thomas, Julie’s brother, who was a main character in A Jingle Valley Wedding but is hardly mentioned in this one. If this is truly the end of the series, it might’ve been nice to offer a little more information on how his life is doing, but the book is covering a variety of stories already and the author might understandably have felt there wasn’t space to include anything more.
The author has expanded the descriptions as the series has gone on, and All’s Well in Jingle Valley continues this progression, offering readers a chance to experience a slice of what the various weddings involve, though the details continue to reflect the characters’ moods, being plentiful when they’re more aware of their surroundings and streamlined when their focuses are elsewhere.
There are moments when the plot feels a touch convenient, like when Julie begins exploring adoption and seems to find it so straightforward, at least where school-aged adoption is concerned, but in other places, the story is beautifully foreshadowed. There are moments of great emotion and moving drama, with everything kept in balance.
The characters feel real and their struggles come off as genuine, realistic, and contemporary. This is a great series for someone looking to find book friends, those kinds of characters one can connect with over and over throughout their lives. All’s Well in Jingle Valley in particular manages to show a depth and vibrancy throughout the pages, to where readers will end the book wishing the story kept going.
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