This book is sure to put you in the Christmas mood

You thought you knew what was inside the box.

Though it was wrapped, you could tell what it was. You shook it, upended it and picked at the tape, absolutely positive that you knew what was inside that colorful paper but as in the new novel “The Noel Stranger” by Richard Paul Evans, mistakes do happen at Christmastime.

Maggie Walther was sure that everyone in Utah was staring at her.

It was for nothing she did, except to marry Clive all those years ago. Except to stand beside him, supporting him as he dived into politics, throwing fundraisers for him and playing hostess. Except to be the last to know that her husband had another wife and children in another state.

Stricken and ashamed, Maggie had been staying home, away from crowds. She couldn’t sleep, couldn’t run her business, could barely even get dressed and her assistant, Carina, was worried. Couldn’t Maggie at least manage to put up a Christmas tree?

And so, on a freezing pre-Thanksgiving weekend, Maggie went to find a tree. And that’s where the holidays turned for her.

He was handsome and funny and helped her find an easy tree to care for. His name was Andrew and he offered to deliver the goods when Maggie’s car turned out to be too small for tree-hauling. She offered him a cup of coffee. He offered to help decorate the tree. She made him dinner. They talked and laughed and compared divorce-survivor notes. And in two weeks time, they fell in love.

It seemed impossible, really, that her heart could leap so quickly after being hurt so much but Maggie was head-over-heels. Andrew was responsible, kind, understanding, he was everything she needed. Carina warned her to slow down, especially after Andrew invited Maggie to Cabo for a week, but Maggie couldn’t remember the last time she smiled as much as she did with Andrew around.

Yet, how much did she really know about him?

Not much at all, as it turned out…

First, this: Fans of author Richard Paul Evans. Yes. Go ahead now, get this book. G’wan. Get outta here.

Now. If you’re new to Evans’ fiction, what you’ll get inside “The Noel Stranger” is a decent enough romancy-Christmassy tale in which someone has been hurt somehow but meets someone else who heals them during the holidays. As you will find inside other Evans holiday books, you’ll find extremely well-crafted characters and deep details that make it all seem more real, plus a snowscape and an argument that throws the novel briefly off-course before happily ever after. That makes this story formulaic, yes, but it’s as traditional and beloved as bulbs on branches and star on treetop and it’s going to put you in a good Christmas mood.

This is a book you can give to your teen and to Grandma without reservation. It’s a pretty fast read and it pairs fairly well with cocoa and a warm blanket on a cold night. For you, or to give, “The Noel Stranger” has it in the box.

More in Life

Highline student finds her voice

Umoja Black Scholars Program enhances the cultural and educational experiences of African-American students.

Multi-Service Center raises $156,000 at annual Crab Feed

Federal Way’s Multi-Service Center raised funds to support its programs at its annual Crab Feed on June 1.

Rosebud Children’s Theatre Conservatory celebrates 10th season

Jack the Giant runs July 19-21; Little Women coming Aug. 2-11.

World War II and roller rinks: 95-year-old Federal Way resident shares his story

Del Carlino is known as the unofficial “Mayor of Lake Dolloff.”

Make Music Federal Way set for June 21

The Federal Way Lions Club is excited to help host this event for the first time ever in Federal Way.

Super Diamond: Tribute to Neil Diamond coming to Federal Way June 21

Super Diamond delivers a glittering performance of Neil’s power ballads and up-tempo hits with unrestrained enthusiasm.

Music4Life brings instruments to school districts

The program takes gently used instruments and repairs them for classroom use in different school districts in King County.

Grammy winner Shenandoah to perform in Federal Way Sept. 26

Country band reunites to launch new chapter in their storied career.

‘Bye Bye Birdie’ coming to Centerstage Theatre

Production takes place in 1960s rural Ohio, featuring a fan club and the hottest rock star in the country.

Michelle Obama brings largest crowd of book tour to Tacoma

Former First Lady spends afternoon with local book club prior to event at Tacoma Dome on March 24.

Matt Kidd. Submitted photo
True strength has no limits

Covington resident Matt Kidd shares his story about kidney disease to help others during National Kidney Month.

Charlie Brown takes center stage in Federal Way

Centerstage’s Charlie Brown opens this weekend, and will showcase the beloved comic strips in the form of play-snippets.