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Review by Suze
Jessie doesn't like Christmas. She used to love it, but is now dreading it, because last year her husband, who was her soulmate, passed away in the days before the holiday that was so important to them. She's going to Lapland to be away from it all, but also because it's something they wanted to do together and she wants to go for both of them. She's taking their dream journey without him. Fortunately she isn't alone as her brother and his friends are there as well.
When she arrives at their destination she doesn't know what to do with herself. Then she meets Mikku, a Sami man who's making her feel at ease straight away. Whenever she's having a tough time he's there to talk her through it and more. Because of his subtle guidance she goes to a party where she meets Zac. They instantly feel a connection. Mikku is just a friend, but with Zac Jessie feels things she thought she would never feel again. The question is if it isn't too soon, will she give Zac a chance or will she run away from him?
The First Christmas Without You is a Christmas novella. I loved reading about the village in Lapland and immediately wished I could spend Christmas there. The setting is fantastic. Lapland is a place where fairytales can happen and I liked the dreamlike setting of the story. After just one year Jessie isn't ready to love someone again and it scares her very much that she meets someone she could like. The story shows how deep her love is for the man who was taken away from her too soon. This isn't a happy, cheerful Christmas story. It's emotional and even though it's sad it's also hopeful.
I found the year of mourning before meeting someone again a bit soon, but could also understand that sometimes destiny has different plans. Through the grief there's also the realization that there's room for something new and I liked how Michelle Betham dealt with that in her story. It's very well written and I liked the magical aspect of the village and its inhabitants. Mikku is mysterious, generous with his friendship and sweet, I loved his role. I think The First Christmas Without You is a wonderful Christmas story. It might not be the most jolly one, but it definitely has the right Christmas spirit.