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

How to manage holiday stress and depression | MultiCare Health System

The holidays can be stressful — know the signs of when you or a loved one needs a little extra support.

Family finishes Tour du Mont Blanc

The Tour is a 110-mile hike through multiple European counties.

Local artists return for second Freestyle event

It’s an opportunity to watch artists create their work, and then even have a chance to buy it at the end.

A day in the life of a Union soldier | Part I

The descendants of Colonel Theodore Hill Jr. discovered his war diary in 1965.

Students encouraged to seek WIAA scholarships

Two students can receive a $5,000 scholarship, while another eight finalists can receive $1,000.

Holiday Bazaar at Danish Hall

Stop by Nov. 9 for crafts and treats.

Harvest activities on the Plateau

There’s haunted houses, pumpkin patches, craft fairs, and even a “farm to fork” fundraiser to Samsarafest.

Annual coat drive helps battle the winter chill

Gamblin Motors is hosting the drive through Nov. 30.

Myriad services offered at resource fair

The Enumclaw library and the Escuela de la Vida is hosting a resource fair for everyone this Friday, Oct. 18.

You need to do more than ‘practice safe sex’ to be sexually healthy | Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department

The World Health Organization has a broad definition of sexual health, which includes not only physical safety, but mental and social well-being.

Avoid e-cigarettes, says CDC | MultiCare Health System

More than 1,080 cases of vaping-related illnesses have been reported across the country.

All invited to attend kick-off conversation about affordable housing

The Calvary Presbyterian church will be hosting a “community conversation” on affordable housing on Oct. 26.