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cover36471-mediumWhat started as a whim turned into an accidental – and very public – engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the facade in Chapel Springs this holiday season – for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?

Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy, the best friend of Layla O’Reilly’s ex-fiance would be the last person she’d marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency, a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she’ll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she’s landed her client. For Layla, it’s the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it’s his last chance to win her heart. A year’s worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.

A December Bride is a sugary sweet story, perfect to remind readers about the miracles of the holiday season.  It’s actually book 1.5 in Hunter’s Chapel Springs series – I haven’t read the first book (although the second full length story is in my TBR pile) and I didn’t really find that it made that much of a difference … although there were some hints about what happened in the first one.  It was more of an “ooh, what happened” moment than anything that would interfere in reading this one.

And I loved Seth and Layla together.  They were friends, they were on the borderline of maybe going somewhere romantic, then she started dating his best friend.  That relationship ended badly and Layla blamed Seth for some of what happened, which destroyed their friendship.  Now thrown together by a fake engagement (it does make sense in context), they have the chance to find out whether their pretend relationship could turn into something real.

Seth has to deal with the fact that he had feelings for his friends girl and that he has some responsibility (very slight) for the hurt she felt when that relationship ended.  He’s caring and hardworking and wants very much to have a second chance with Layla.

Layla still has a lot of bitterness and anger toward her ex and with Seth.  Now thrown together with him for the good of her business, she remembers all the reasons why they were friends … and with the possibility for more.  But she has to decide if she is willing to let go of those past hurts and look to the future.

Novella in length, Hunter still manages to pack a fantastic story into just a few pages.  She manages to give readers a detailed history of their relationship, setting up their happy ending nicely, but still telling a complete and in-depth romance in the present.  A December Bride is compelling and sweet, full of so much sappy, happy love.

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