Review & Interview by Elise Cooper
Christmas Redemption by Maisey Yates is written
in the same spirit as the old Jimmy Stewart movie, “It’s
A Wonderful Life.” There are pieces of both that
are not blushingly happy and celebratory. Yet, in the
end, there is a happy ending.
Dalton has loved Ellie Bell from the first minute he
saw her, but because she was going to be married to
his best friend, Clint, he repressed his feelings as
much as he possibly could. Four plus years ago, Clint
died in a helicopter accident while fighting a fire.
Knowing his friend would want him to step in, Caleb
held Ellie when she was sad. While she grieved, he was
there for the birth of her child Amelia and has been
a surrogate father for Amelia ever since. To Ellie,
he is her best friend, her rock, and her salvation.
holidays approach, Ellie once again is dreading it as
she has every year since her husband died. But for the
sake of her daughter, she enlists the help of Caleb
and his family, who treats her like one of their own.
But this year, something is different for Ellie, and
she decides to want no longer to be a widow. She makes
a list of all the things she wants to do. She wants
to dance and be kissed by someone who wants her, something
fun and uncomplicated. Caleb isn't having any of that
after she shows the list to him. If anyone is going
to be kissing Ellie and sharing in her fun, it is going
to be him. After they decide to pursue the intimacy
between them, it becomes off the charts. Caleb and Ellie
had amazing chemistry; yet, they also had to go through
an emotional roller coaster ride. They must get beyond
the festivities and traditions of the holiday season,
realizing their relationship is going from friend to
is a heart-warming story of moving forward and taking
chances. It is a tale filled with twists and turns that
will drain readers emotions and will grip their heart.
Cooper: First responders get a shout out in
Yates: Firefighters are so important, especially
to those who live in woodsy areas. Where I live, we
are surrounded by trees and mountains and get a lot
of wild fires. I knew someone in high school who became
a fire fighter. In my twenties, I read how he died in
a helicopter crash fighting a fire and was newly married.
I thought a lot about his wife, even though I did not
know her. How do people come back from that?
Did you ever know someone who lost a loved
one when they were young?
My grandma lost her first husband on D-day and became
widowed at seventeen. He never met their son. She re-married.
I wondered how do people fall in love again and thought
how brave they must be?
The theme is grief and guilt?
It is the essence of the story. Anytime someone
is left behind; there is the struggle with guilt. People
try to make sense of something and look for something
concrete to attach a tragedy to make sense of it.
Caleb, the hero, and Ellie, the heroine, also
He was in love with Ellie even before she lost
her husband, Clint. Clint was also Caleb’s best
friend. Because Caleb was in love with Ellie the first
time he saw her, he had guilt over those feelings even
though he never acted on them. But he also had grief
for losing his best friend. Ellie had guilt over realizing
she loved Caleb in a different way than she loved Clint,
that it was more intense with Caleb. She also, for many
years, would not let go of her emotional grief she had
over losing Clint.
How would you describe Caleb?
Complicated, serious, loyal, and intense. He sometimes
filters his deep emotions by being angry with himself.
He is a good guy who is always there for Ellie and her
daughter. I also think he is part martyr.
How would you describe Ellie?
I wanted to make her functional with her grief
because of her four-year-old daughter. She lost her
sense of self and decided to be strong for her daughter.
She lived her life as a wife and widow.
It is a friend to lover’s story?
My husband and I were friends. I enjoyed writing
the scene where the hero and heroine realize something
changed from friendship to lover. This is what happened
to me. I knew my husband when I was a teenager, and
he was in his twenties. We were just friends then. But
something happened as we both grew older.
my characters, the friend relationship was really strong.
Losing someone close to them became a fertile ground
for guilt and grief. What neither realized was that
Caleb was filling the husband role and was a supportive
partner. Caleb realized the intensity between them,
and once Ellie realized it, she became scared as they
shifted from friendship to romance.
How would you describe the relationship?
Caleb was a safe space for Ellie. I flipped the romance
on its head by having her running away. She is scared
of being so much in love and then losing it again. I
think Caleb and Ellie has a soul mate aspect. They have
shared secrets, which contributes to the passion between
How did the ghost of Clint play into the story?
I wrote this book quote, “Don’t deny
yourself happiness because you think you owe him some
kind of emotional sadness. Some kind of eternal statue
to his memory.” I wanted to explore through Ellie
how she was afraid that letting go of her guilt and
grief meant letting go of Clint. If she was not sad,
did it mean Ellie was forgetting him? This is the journey
she had to take. Clint had changed both Caleb and Ellie
in really good ways, but there is no need to hold on
to the sadness to remember him. Ellie realized that
if she is not crying over Clint every day, he will still
be a part of her life. She recognized she is obviously
no longer his wife and now wanted more than to be just
his widow. It is a journey of putting grief, guilt,
and loss in its proper perspective.
The role of Christmas?
I get a lot of flak because my Christmas books
have some sadness even though there is a happy ending.
Ellie must continue doing Christmas and is forced to
celebrate even when she does not want to because of
her daughter, Amelia. I think this is the perfect backdrop
for emotional and bittersweet romances. It is not a
light book but has the ultimate triumph of choosing
to love and move forward.
You referenced a lot of country music singers, so who
is your favorite?
I am a huge Dierks Bentley fan and have seen him
in concert a few times. He is my artist of the decade.
I became a country music fan because my grandma was
a huge one who always listened to that music. But when
I became a teenager, I did not think it cool to like
country music, so I did not listen to it. While writing
a romance book, I heard a Tim McGraw song and realized
how I loved that song. He brought me back to country
music, and I am now headlong into it.
There is a particular dog in the book I never heard
You are referring to the Bernedoodles. There is
a funny story behind this. I told my publisher I do
not want animals on my book covers, but they were insistent
they wanted a puppy on this cover. I went to a meeting
at their Toronto office and met the head of marketing
who showed a picture of her new puppy. This Bernedoodle,
Finnegan, was the cutest puppy I had ever seen. I agreed
to a puppy on my cover as long as it was Finnegan because
it felt personal and fun. I personally have a Labradoodle.
A word of warning to my readers; these dogs are high
maintenance and must be groomed all the time because
their hair clumps.
Your next book(s)?
Out in February is an anthology with bestselling
authors Caitlin Crews, Nicole Helm, and Jackie Ashenden.
The plot has June Gable leaving each of her four granddaughters
a handwritten bequest to spend a season at her beloved
farmhouse in Jasper Creek, Oregon, before they sell
it. These cousins were once as close as sisters, but
now they must deal with betrayals. I write about the
fall season. This project was a lot of fun because I
was able to write with my three good friends. Then in
May, my first women’s fiction comes out, and then
after that will be another Gold Valley novel.
and Myshelf.com would like thank Maisey for this interview.