The Santa Trial by Tess Thompson

by Tess Thompson
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Neither Ryan nor Rena is thrilled about jury duty. He’s a widower with a small daughter who needs him. She’s a struggling single woman who can’t afford to miss a day’s pay. But when they spot each other across the courtroom, suddenly jury duty doesn’t seem like such a burden after all. Together with their fellow jurors, they must decide the fate of a defendant who believes he’s Santa. It’s a seemingly unromantic task for two infatuated strangers, but love could find a way with a little help from the magic of Christmas.

With the passing of Halloween, the falling of leaves, and the array of holiday drinks now available at Starbucks, I found myself yearning to dive into the holiday spirit a little early this year. The Santa Trial is a stand-alone, short novel written by Tess Thompson.  I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Tess for many years now, but for some reason or another have not read the majority of her works. I blame this on the fact that my to-be-read pile could very well serve as a staircase into outer space (and beyond).

Snuggled up in my favorite chair, with a warm cup of coffee in one hand, I flipped open my kindle and stepped into winter…

The book opens with a letter to Santa. And it only took a few sentences. Before the magic began to happen. I blinked a few times, the words blurring slightly on the screen. Snow. It was falling all around me. Twinkling lights in the distance called to me. The smell of fires burning and sugar cookies cooling on the counter filled my soul. Carols and children laughing filled my ears. Love filled my heart. These pages and words transformed into scenes.

Many skeptics say that romantic stories are unrelatable fluff; that they aren’t literature. And, without reading a word, they stick their noses up into the air and pass unfair judgment.

I wish I could make each of those skeptics read this book.

Ryan and Rena and Morgan. Are not unrelatable. And their story is not fluff. There are struggles. There are dreams. And the hope of magic. Of love. And something bigger than us. All of those things are real. And Tess has taken reality, hope, love, and magic and woven the most beautiful of tapestries. The lives and experiences of the characters may not mimic my exact life, or yours. But what they feel. What they hope for. We’ve all felt that way. And we’ve all dreamed.

I laughed. I smiled. My heart leaped in my chest. The world around me disappeared. And in just a mere few hours, I fell in love with every single character. Every single word. My only complaint was that by the time the end was near, I once again found myself blinking and the words blurring on the screen. It wasn’t snow or magic. It was the deepest and most profound of emotional connections you can have with a novel. With its characters. Your new friends. I’m not one that easily allows myself to cry, especially in the presence of others. But Tess’s eloquent prose served a key to unlock things inside of me that I had no control over. They took my breath away.

The Santa Trial has now become a story that I will read each year before Christmas. Hallmark, if you’re reading this. You should make this into a movie. Big publishers, if you’re reading this. You should sign this woman on immediately.

If you love holiday stories. If you love stories about hope and love. If you are a human being. Curl up and let Tess’s magical words transport you.


This book was reviewed outside of the request of the publisher and/or author.

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