The Santa Suit: A Novel
Heartbroken over the end of her marriage, Ivy Perkins decides she needs a lifestyle change, so with her share of the business she started with her husband and half of their assets, she buys an old farmhouse sight unseen. She always loved the country, and when she sees The Four Roses listed for sale, she and her beloved English setter rescue pooch, Punkin, leave their Atlanta home and head for the tiny town of Tarburton in the mountains of North Carolina.
Ivy pulls into the driveway noticing a run-down house and overgrown vegetation. A young man with thick butterscotch-colored hair sticking out from a baseball cap is standing by the house. He introduces himself as Ezra Wheeler, her real estate agent. Ivy envisioned a stooped-over elderly gentleman with such an old-fashioned name and is surprised he is young.
Ezra tells her about the property:
". . . the Four Roses is a reference to the owners—well, former owners now—Bob and Betty Rae Rose, and their two daughters, Sandi and Emily Rose. Get it? Four Roses.'"
Ivy is somewhat confused, for the previous owner had been listed as James Heywood, but Ezra explains he was the husband of the late Sandi Rose, who inherited the property from her deceased parents.
Little did Ivy realize the farm has been vacant for some time and needs a lot of renovation, but she's determined to make a go of it. This home is known for being the best-decorated property in the area, and both Bob and Betty Rae played up Christmas to the nines by acting as Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus.
Tired and somewhat disillusioned by the condition of her new investment, she is a bit standoffish toward Ezra as he tries to help her move her meager belongings inside. Her mind is a checklist going over all the renovations needed to the old single-story home with a wide front porch and four fireplaces. But she refuses to let this dampen her spirits. She's on a new adventure.
Ivy needs to go through the Roses' left-behind old furniture and boxes of odds and ends. She expects her furniture to arrive in a few days, so she asks Ezra about donating the pieces left behind, and he happily obliges by bringing them to the local thrift shop. Little does she know that her belongings went to the wrong place, so she'll have to wait longer for them to be delivered; she then learns an accident with the moving truck destroyed her possessions.
Ezra, ever the helpmate, offers to "borrow back" the items from the thrift store, so she could have a place to sleep, sit, and eat. Ivy cannot understand why Ezra is so accommodating toward her, but she begins to sense a bit of a spark with him. Determined not to be burned again, she plays down her feelings, though it is evident they both have chemistry for each other.
As Ivy searches through the discarded belongings, she comes across a beautiful, antique Santa suit, and in the pocket, she discovers a note penned by a child from long ago. On it is her wish from Santa—that her father returns from war. Ivy is intrigued, and because this is such a small, close-knit town, she wants to find out if this child's father ever returned.
A sweet, quick-paced read, The Santa Suit is sure to bring a smile no matter what season. The wholesomeness and camaraderie of some small towns are well presented, along with a bit of romance and mystery.