Typically I don’t start reading Christmas themed books until mid-November at the earliest. I believe in letting my seasons be seasons and not rushing any holiday enjoyment. Just because Halloween isn’t my favorite holiday doesn’t mean I don’t believe it shouldn’t get its due. Note to retailers: I want the Halloween M&Ms well gone before you start putting out the Christmas ones. Unfortunately when presented with a new Melissa Cutler book I couldn’t wait. The promise of a great story with fun characters was just too much to resist, even in early October.
It’ll be a Christmas to remember when hotel heiress Carina Briscoe falls for cowboy James Decker, the bad boy stable manager of her family’s Texas resort, after they’re roped into pretending marriage. The marriage might be a sham but the sparks between them are anything but. Still, with a little help from the heroine’s interfering family, they might end up with the greatest Christmas gift of all: true love.
Cutler does not disappoint with this book. Featuring a marriage of convenience, with a bit of The Gift of the Magi thrown in, this book works on all levels. It is hard to write a good marriage of convenience story set in modern day and Cutler pulls it off. Carina and Decker are hot, sexy, and definitely meant to be together. The marriage push is simply fate stepping in to move things along
What starts out as an agreement to support a family tradition – the mistletoe effect ensures every bride to get married in December at the Briscoe ranch stays married – quickly turns into a real relationship. Decker wants Carina to become the woman he sees hiding behind her need to please her family. He does everything he can to further her own goals.
The overarching conflict isn’t dramatic, but there is enough tension to move the narrative forward efficiently. As a reader I was not disappointed by the direction the story took. There was just the right amount of heart to tie everything together.
The supporting cast helps move the story along. I wanted to see more of Granny June, mostly just to see what she was going to say next. I wanted to see more of Carina’s friends and hope that we will revisit them in future novels. Emily is just waiting for a book and definitely deserves a happily ever after of her own. This would also give us a chance to see how Carina and Decker are doing.
Even if you wait until the holiday season is in full swing, make time for this little gem. It will be well-worth it. If you are lucky, you might just time it for a snowy afternoon.