This novella came on just the right day for me. I knew I needed to read a holiday themed book for my December post and we had snow today – enough for a delay for my school but not enough for a snow day (which made me and all the kids sad). Since my husband and I fell in love during a snowstorm almost 21 years ago, there is nothing more romantic to me than being caught by weather (the kind where you need to snuggle for warmth) with someone you find attractive. Very attractive.
Enter category romance doyenne Kate Hardy (of Harlequin/Mills & Boon fame) and Entangled Publishing’s new Indulgence line who together have managed a lineup of delicious holiday novellas penned by serious category romance contenders! Names like Aimee Carson, Heidi Rice (!), and Kate Hardy are all well-known by readers within this genre of romance fiction, so color me impressed. Those Entangled editors are clearly smooth talkers with plenty of chutzpah to court such excellent authors for this holiday novella celebration, but that’s Entangled for you. 🙂
‘Tis the Season to Kiss Santa has a straightforward premise. Mitch has been called Scrooge for most of his life and he’s got good reason. He has no positive memories of the holiday which, for him, was filled with abusive, drunk parents and disillusionment. Now a successful PR executive in Philadelphia, he’s happy to spend the holidays doing what he always does – work. But when his soon-to-retire boss C. J. approaches him about playing Santa, Mitch balks even though he knows C. J. will be picking a successor soon. There is no way he’s agreeing to be something (or someone) he’s not.
C. J. lets him know that donning the red suit and Christmas cheer is for a local hospice, specifically for siblings of kids in the hospital who don’t end up with a lot of attention during the holiday, making Mitch reconsider his anti-Christmas stance. His boss and his wife lost a son years ago and, together with a bakery owner with a similar experience, have been putting on this party every year. Mitch feels his first stirrings of guilt and ends up agreeing to do the gig, despite his reservations.
Ellie is a British baker who was happy to step into the “chief elf” role when her godmother needed a hip replacement. But while the last-minute Santa is good looking, he’s also not exactly filled with the Christmas spirit. Yet, something seems to happen to him over the course of interacting with the kids, and it’s enough of a transformation that when he suggests he give her a ride home in the sudden snowstorm that sprang up, she accepts, inviting him in for coffee and cookies.
They both quickly realize that Mitch is there for the duration of the storm (and maybe Christmas day if the city can’t get the plow in soon). Ellie can’t believe that she’s so attracted to someone who she only just met a few hours ago and Mitch is stunned that this sexy redhead with the killer accent is getting under all his carefully shored up defenses. Together they discover if Mitch can get over his past and Ellie can recover the confidence shredded by her ex and have a very merry Christmas, indeed.
At almost 100 pages this $.99 novella is a total steal with two great main characters and a romantic setting. Mitch is grumpy – but not to the level of being an unlikeable asshole – and the setting of the hospice was unique yet never saccharine. Kate Hardy manages to sketch vivid people and settings with an economy of words that left me breathless as the plot moved effortlessly along, taking me with it. At its heart, this story is about the Christmas spirit helping people take chances, and that’s a message any romance reader can love.
You can be rest assured that I will be reviewing some of the other fabulous stories in this holiday series over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully they will live up to the standards set by Kate Hardy!