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Baer's "Love Finds You in Frost, Minnesota"
December 16, 2013 - Jodelle Greiner
I was passing by Good News Bookstore and stopped dead when I saw "Frost, Minnesota" on a bookcover. I didn't need to know any more than that to be intrigued. I had to read the book.
What would happen if Jack Frost showed up just before Christmas and announced he owned the town of Frost? That's the premise of "Love Finds You in Frost, Minnesota" by Judy Baer.
Jonathan "Jack" Frost is not a fan of Christmas when he arrives in Frost, Minnesota - oh, he believes in Christ's birth, but hates the commercialism that's claimed the holiday. Jack came to Frost to do some research on his long-dead relative who founded the namesake town. Unfortunately for Jack, due to the basketball tournaments, the only place to stay in a 40-mile radius is a bed-and-breakfast run by Merry Noel Blake, who has single-handedly turned Frost into Christmas Central with Santas, reindeer, a Christmas parade and live Nativity.
Merry loves everything about Christmas so she's opened Merry's Christmas Boutique out of her home in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Merry views the Boutique as an opening to tell folks about her faith in the real meaning of Christmas, as the birthday of Jesus the Savior.
Being an open-hearted Christian, Merry welcomes Jack to her B-and-B in spite of his Grinchiness about Christmas. What really worries her is the reason why Jack has come to Frost: he's spending a lot of time at the courthouse in Blue Earth, trying to track down the information that will prove he owns most of the town and a good share of the farmland surrounding it. What will the people of Frost do when they find out they could be losing their homes and livelihoods?
Baer has come up with a fun idea for a Christmas romance, especially with the names. I have to mention I actually know Jack Frost and he lives in Texas. Sounds crazy, but it's absolutely true.
The book sounds like a fluffy, quick read - a delectable holiday confection to give you a break from the stress of the season. In a lot of ways, it is, but it also has a solid core based on Christmas being the birth of Jesus, the Messiah. In spite of Merry loving all the kitschy trappings of Christmas, she's a committed Christian who reaches out to others to include them in her vision of peace and family. Jack, too, is a Christian, but one for whom the frivolity of the holiday reminds him of the worst time in his life. Baer blends the fun of Christmas with the seriousness of forgiveness to give the reader a warm, homey feeling, like a cookie fresh out of the oven, just right for this time of year.
Even though all the characters are fictitious, Baer got small town life right - from the joys of lutefisk to the way everyone knows everyone's business and how gossip runs like wildfire, whether it's true or not. Baer even works the fact there are 40 million Olsons in the area into the storyline. She also gets in some real-world insight into the fact that joblessness and homelessness exist here in the Heartland, too.
I'm not sure Frostites will recognize their town, but it's fun to have familiar places pop out at you while reading. People who know these places well can compare the real and fictional and have fun with it.
Now, excuse me, I have to visit Frost.
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