Book review · Uncategorized

The note inside the Santa Suit

Christmas in July has passed I realize, but ‘tis the season for publishing Christmas stories. I just finished reading an upcoming novella from Mary Kay Andrews called “The Santa Suit.” I requested the title from Netgalley after reading the synopsis. Ivy Perkins bought a farmhouse based solely on a real estate listing. She knew it would need some “TLC,” but hadn’t imagined buying “The Four Roses,” as the home was called, with the previous tenants’ possessions still there. I enjoy visiting historic homes and hearing stories of the previous tenants, so this idea intrigued me. Kind of like the game “Homescapes” where you renovate this old family mansion but in real life.

The story opened with Ivy on her way from Atlanta to Tarburton, North Carolina, with her dog, Punkin, and a box filled with Araucana chicks. Newly divorced, she wanted to begin again in a new state. When she finally saw “The Four Roses,” she realized the house was a serious “fixer upper.” She was irked to find all the Rose family furnishings. No one else in the family was keen on taking the furniture or doing anything with…well, anything. Ivy went through their clothes, furniture, records and other paperwork. She found a beautifully made Santa suit and a note inside one pocket that appeared to have been written by a child. The child wanted her daddy to come home from the war. Ivy wanted to know what happened to the child and if she got her wish. Solving that mystery led her on an adventure and introduced her to her new town and its people.  

Tarburton seemed like the ideal Southern town made up of helpful, caring people…and one hunky real estate agent. I enjoyed solving the mystery behind the note tucked inside the Santa suit alongside Ivy, but I probably enjoyed exploring the farmhouse with her the most. She may have meant to come to this new place where she could be alone to collect her thoughts and rebuild her life. The note gave Ivy a new purpose as she grieved and healed from the pain of the divorce.

Ivy also was rebuilding her career in public relations after losing clients post divorce. She found fertile creative ground once again when she started a marketing campaign to help the owner of a candy shop who made these awesome “dark chocolate pepperymint patties.” Andrews made me crave York peppermint patties. I can see them as sponsors if this becomes a Hallmark movie.  

The things I didn’t like reminded me of Stephen King and his editing advice. I noticed a few words the author repeated that he would probably call “fillers.” “Groused” for example and “looking sheepish” were used more than once. I don’t like to see anything beyond “he said, she said” in dialogue. I want to imagine the scene myself based on the dialogue. The descriptions of how we text each other weren’t necessary. Removing all those small details would clear the path of words that impede the flow of the story.

That said, the author perfectly captured the dynamics between owner and dog. I’m a dog person. I talk to my dog frequently and he usually has to be somewhere in my vicinity throughout the day. I could relate to how Ivy and Punkin interacted with each other. (I did think the woman needed a fenced-in yard though.)

I did experience a bit of a let down at the end. I couldn’t imagine Ivy not sharing information with the people in her immediate circle. I just couldn’t see why a particular character in the story wouldn’t have figured the answer before her. BUT I did cry at the reunion and happy ending. Romance, mystery, the sights, smells, and tastes of Christmas made me long for the past while looking forward to the joys of the holiday season.

I learned “Mary Kay Andrews” is a pen name for Kathy Hogan Trocheck, an American writer who lives in Atlanta. Many of her titles became New York Times bestsellers. For more information on her, go to her website: To explore other titles from Ms. Andrews, you can go here to see her book series in order. Thank you, and St. Martin’s Press for allowing me the opportunity to read and review this book.


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