There aren’t many contemporary romance novels that feature a sexy elf falling in lust with a man in a fuzzy green Grinch costume, but welcome to the world of author Tawny Weber, where lust surpasses bulky Christmas costumes!
In her December novel, Naughty Christmas Nights, we find wide-eyed optimist Haley North, the talented but struggling owner of Merry Widow Lingerie, who is attending a Christmas holiday costume party because it’s the brainchild of the rather pervy owner of the upscale Rudolph’s department store. The man himself, the elderly but libidinous Rudy, has a jones for drama and has gathered all the designers he’s considering for his spring line in one place. Haley is on tenterhooks as she desperately needs this contract to keep her business afloat with creditors knocking at the door. Yet despite the tension of the situation, a whole other kind is filling her when she catches sight of the Grinch across the room.
Gage Milano cannot believe he lost a bet to his brother and he’s stuck in a Grinch costume at a party where he needs to cinch a key deal for his family’s newly acquired lingerie line. The deal means everything to Gage – he’s started his own successful marketing firm but his father has him and his brother hooked into the family business whether they like it or not. With Gage’s brother Devon promising him snagging the Rudolph’s account means Gage can have a year off from Milano business to work on his own projects, it’s as if someone threw a lifeline to a drowning man and he just has to reach out and grab it. Yet the only thing he wants to grab onto is the blond bombshell in the candy cane striped bustier and stockings.
A case of mistaken identity and a whole lot of mutual lust has Haley and Gage circling one another (maybe with a little hot kissing thrown in for good measure) but when they meet the next day and realize they are each other’s competition, neither are happy. Gage thinks the account is a slam dunk – both lines are so different with the Milano line channelling S&M black leather and Merry Widow selling romance and sexy empowerment – surely Rudy will want one in particular and with the guy channelling the blue pill with women a third his age, the blatant sex in the Milano line is bound to win. But Haley is the comeback kid at every turn and Gage wonders if he actually has the ability (and heart) to trounce her when it’s clear she’s got the better designs.
What follows is a series of events that force Gage and Haley to work in each other’s company while everyone takes their sweet time deciding between their products. That Haley and Gage begin to develop feelings for each other during the holiday season is a fact that cannot be denied, but with Gage never having been in a relationship of any kind and Haley too used to one person after another putting her second, the question remains if either party has what it takes to make this work, even without the account of a lifetime stuck between them.
In many ways this book – from Harlequin’s steamy Blaze line – could have also passed for an amped up Harlequin Presents novel, with it’s plucky, more innocent heroine self-actualizing as she realizes what she wants (and needs) from her life and a wealthy, dickish, cutthroat hero who finds himself changed in the course of exposure to a woman unlike any he’s met before. Like a Presents novel, you find yourself suspending the certain knowledge that both these people need therapy more than they need each other, instead plunging yourself into the heady fantasy of holiday magic working to bring two lonely people together. While Gage takes a long time to get his act together, you’re fighting for Haley as she attempts to assert herself and her amazing designs into the limelight to win this account.
Naughty Christmas Nights is also a sensual feast so beware, clotheshounds! You will find yourself drooling over not just the lingerie but the clothes Haley wears. Does Tawny Weber have a Pinterest inspiration board for this book, because if so, I’m following.