I was busy cruising the holiday books list at Goodreads and came across this little self-published gem which had rave reviews. The idea of Santa having sexy sons who had to take over the business was an interesting premise, one I was curious to see if author Penny Watson could pull off. For a mere $3.99 on Amazon, the price point was worth trying it out.
Sexy, bearded Nicholas Klaus is a sober, hard-working master chef and baker who, when not running the bakery back at the North Pole, trots the globe sampling the best food around the world. In upstate New York, he hears about a local bakery with a great reputation and stops in for a judgmental bite. One taste equals the best sugar cookie he’s ever had and that was before his heart stopped, and it’s not from the butter content. He sees petite, red-haired Lucy Brewster, owner of the bakery, and he is a man obsessed, returning every day to try something new and wrestle his body and mind into submission.
You see, Nicholas isn’t allowed to bring a Sudlander, a southern-dweller, back to the North Pole without permission and even then it better be a darn good reason. And what normal woman is going to do anything but dial 911 if he told her that he was a chef, and…oh, that’s right…the oldest son of Santa Claus? And would you come back to the North Pole to live with me and the elves?
Lucy is fascinated with the hot, stranger who looks at her like she was a sugar cookie. When he helps her in a bakery crisis, she realizes the common interests they share and a hot night together in her office is further proof there’s something special between them. But a shocking accident takes Lucy to the North Pole to see how Nicholas and his family really live. The question exists if the magic between them will be enough or will Lucy have to face reality and go home to New York without the one man who makes her feel like she was in front of a hot oven?
I loved both the character of Lucy and Nicholas (how can you not adore the free-spirit who helps the uptight automaton loosen up?) and the way Watson turns the tables, making Santa and Mrs. Klaus the opposite of what you expect is a fun surprise. That elves are these working class toughs with animal spirits to spare (yet warm-hearted and so welcoming to Lucy) is another valuable story layer, and the only part I missed was my reindeer bubble bursting (sleighs are run on magic, not reindeer).
With responsible Nicholas having four sexy, younger brothers, all with disparate personalities, we have a lovely series in the making. Nevertheless, I was surprised that the next brother in line was green-haired, tattooed, snowboarder Oskar. In Sweet Magik, we see that Oskar is the head of the elven workers (not an easy HR gig with the drinking, fighting and magik), yet who pulls off his job and his eccentric Dr. Seuss hats with equal aplomb.
When Gregor, the financial wizard brother, invites his siblings to his Manhattan high rise apartment for a New Year’s Eve party complete with supermodels, Oskar happily goes along. Yet a surprise is in store when he spots a dowdy woman tucked in a corner talking to his brother Sven. Ignoring the blond supermodel jonesing for his bad boy looks, Oskar tries to engage Ms. Prickly and Covered Up in conversation. They actually read a lot of the same books and Kiana Grant, the name of his mystery gal, is clearly a gorgeous woman hiding from the world.
Kiana has a no reason to trust bad boys. Back in home in Hawaii, she fell victim to one and it hurt her badly. Joining her best friend Trish in New York allowed Kiana to get the librarian degree she always wanted and Trish’s trust fund has them living in a great apartment. Shocked at the raw attractiveness of Oskar, Kiana tries to shut down her reaction, but not before they have one hell of a New Year’s kiss. Oskar pesters her for a date and she gives in, only to have his cell ring in with a horrible work emergency. He’s frustrated to have to leave her, but events conspire to give her an unexpected ride to the North Pole where they are both in danger, physically and emotionally, of getting seriously hurt by a vicious elf bent on revenge.
Oskar is fun and a little lonely, and making him an insatiable reader (bibliophiles will drool over the description of his house) is icing on the hero cake. As a librarian it always chafes when authors insist on making us dowdy, repressed sexpots, but Kiana was an empathetic character with some serious emotional baggage. I love how Oskar never gave up on her and realized his heart’s doors were thrown wide open with this woman. Love magik is easy to believe in.
It’s interesting to note that while the first book was self-published and about 160 pages long, this book was picked up by The Wild Rose Press (which produces great romances) and is double that length. I’m glad of it as this storyline fleshes out the world a little more, adds in some excellent three-dimensional secondary characters, and has a romantic suspense subplot of the evil elf. The love scenes in both books are sweet and hot and interestingly enough (with all the erotic romance I read) I can’t remember the last time the hero and heroine orally pleasured one another at the same time – go Penny Watson for adding in this much needed element to the world of hot romance! How else are those couples supposed to stay warm up at North Pole anyway? Eh?
Penny Watson’s writing strength is her terrific world-building. She’s created a reality in which a Klaus made a bargain to protect elves and work with them for the benefit of children everywhere, moving them to the North Pole (made habitable by elven magik). It’s pure fantasy, but rather than get bogged down in rules and vocabulary, Watson feeds us exactly the right amount of information and specialized language (German, if you spreche Deutsch) to show us that these are a group of people and elves with a history, bonded through a common experience and way of viewing the world.
My sole problem with this series was the cover of Sweet Inspiration – those cookies look terrible! Nicholas wouldn’t be caught dead serving something that looked so unappetizing. Sadly the next two brothers (let one of them be Wolfie!! Please!!) won’t have their books released until the end of 2013, but I’m eagerly looking forward to getting the Klaus family, in all their sexiness, for Christmas next year. Thanks, Penny!