by Melissa Cutler
This Christmas, Santa wears a Stetson.
Paul Savage loves Christmas at Briscoe Ranch Resort, when he gets to take a break from being a back country guide to play Santa in the resort’s lobby and talk to kids about toys. The last thing he expects is his high school crush to come waltzing in as his new assistant photographer, wheeling a suitcase that’s more naughty than nice.
Kelly Walker is a disaster. All she’d wanted was to spice up her life by saying ‘yes’ to every opportunity, which is when the universe started pelting her with ‘no’s.’ So when she comes across a job listing for a holiday photographer working with the sweet, scrawny boy whose advances she’d laughed off in high school, she jumps on the chance to turn her bad Karma around by giving Paul a second chance.
Trouble is, Paul’s anything but scrawny anymore, and his cowboy swagger throws her grand plans for a loop—especially when he tempts her with a red hot proposition of his own. Kelly’s in way over her head, but as she gets swept up in the magic of Briscoe Ranch’s holiday charms—and Paul’s—could Kelly’s year of ‘no’s’ be leading up to the ‘yes’ of a lifetime?
I found this novella to be sweet with a middlin’ heat level … although, I gotta say that when you show up with a Nice suitcase and a Naughty suitcase that I’d expect that we’d at least get a little play with the things in toy chest? 🙂 I know that it falls in the whole Santa and Christmas thing but I was kinda hoping for at least a little more steam out of all the goodies she brought.
But overall that was my only complaint – the characters are enjoyable, the story complete, and the ending works without feeling rushed. The length of the book is helped by the fact that these two were friends (of a sort) years ago and even though they have changed over time the closeness they had helps give them a good foundation to work with.
I know that a lot of reviewers are complaining about the lie that Kelly tells, which is more of an omission because she’s embarrassed and doesn’t want him to know how she’s screwed up. Which is totally understandable. Here she is with a guy that had a crush on her when she was one of the most popular girls in school but he was a nerdy outsider and now he’s the one who is all hot with his life together while she’s feeling kicked around. Why would you want to admit to that? Especially with the embarrassment factor thrown in. I’d find it hard to own up to as well.
Now, granted, he’s amazingly understanding and forgiving once everything does come out. He’s not perfect but he’s still the sweet, nice guy he was all those years ago. (Just now in an amazingly sexy package.) You can totally understand why she wants a chance with him, and I appreciate that she wanted that chance before she found out what a hottie he’d become. Makes her at least a little less shallow than she used to be 🙂
She’s not perfect, but Kelly is real. And while there may be a little of him finally getting his dream girl in Paul’s reaction to her showing up, I’d like to think he’s the better man he seems to be and he truly does understand the real her and that’s the girl he’s falling for.