Anne Stuart, I would think, dislikes stereotypes, in
characters, in settings. She gives us charming tale of witches set at Christmas time, not Halloween and she conjures a delightful romance that is not her trademark dark and dangerous tale, showing her more whimsical side.
Sybil Richardson aka Saralee Richardson, is a runt in a family of giants. Beautiful, blonde Amazon woman of overachievers - except for Sybil. One older sister is a lawyer, another a professor and her youngest is a diplomat. Nearly what you would call short, with caramel coloured hair, Saralee never felt she fit in with her "super" family. So she changed her name to Sybil, moved to Vermont, collected a small pack of dogs, and became the secretary to SOWW - Society of Water Witches. Life is good, not exciting, but content. She does not have to deal with her perfect family, does not have to deal with her ex-husband - who was perfect and only amplified her feels of inferiority.
So when Nicholas Fitzsimmons a - divinely perfect - professor who goes around debunking new age witchcraft fads, comes to the small snowy Vermont town, Sybil is not happy. Worse, when it quickly comes to light that Nicholas and Sybil are old souls from a past life things, which make things very sticky for Sybil. Nicholas is darkly beautiful, very tall, smart, and accomplished. Just like Sybil's family. Once more, she feels those few extra pounds and sense she is a "brown elf" rises. But try as she might, she cannot run from Nicholas, or chase him away with her rudeness.
Add in a subplot of someone swindling little old ladies of the town out of their life savings, you have a wonderful time. Stuart's tale is full of gentle humour, sizzling sparks between Nick and Sybil. Not typical Stuart, but typically crafted with her solid talent. A wintry tale to warm the heart.