Review

Review: The Christmas Pact by Vi Keeland and Penelope Ward (2019)

Heat Factor: Smooching only

Character Chemistry: Insta-lust without a ton of depth

Plot: Pretty ridiculous

Overall: Fun if you like the “Christmas special” thing


Don’t tell Amazon–I succumbed to an Amazon Audible promo. It was a legit good deal. I probably won’t spring for a full Audible subscription after it expires, but I have been binging audio romance for nearly a month now, and it’s nice while I’m doing activities that don’t allow me to stop and read actual words. 

This was how I discovered Audible original The Christmas Pact, which is narrated by awesome audiobook narrator duo Andi Arndt and Sebastian York. The premise of this story is completely absurd. Riley Kennedy and Kennedy Riley work for different branches of a publisher, and because their names are so similar, they constantly get each other’s mail. Riley simply forwards Kennedy’s along, but Kennedy apparently reads Riley’s and provides commentary when he forwards mail to her. They’ve never met, but this year the holiday party is going to be in one event space for both of the offices, and they’re bound to bump into each other!

It’s even worse at this point because Kennedy read a reply Riley received from an advice columnist that wasn’t particularly nice. Of course, Kennedy isn’t a bundle of snuggles and moonbeams, so Riley is a rage bear after Kennedy adds salt to the life-advice wound. When they meet, one thing leads to another, and Riley ends up taking Kennedy home to pose as her boyfriend. In exchange, she will attend a wedding with him over the New Year holiday. As they get to know each other better, Riley realizes Kennedy’s not the complete and utter jerk she thought he was and Kennedy…has issues. The wedding is his brother’s. And his brother is marrying his own ex-fiance. And he’s emotionally closed off, so of course it’s on him to push Riley away when it comes to the point. 

Let’s unpack this. 

  • Kennedy reading Riley’s email and providing unsolicited and unwanted comments is pretty gross. He’s actually a reasonably nice guy once the two end up on an airplane and as the book progresses, but getting over the creeper aspect where he starts off might be hard for some readers. 
  • Riley asked for advice because she feels less-than around the holidays because her mother sends out a Christmas letter all about the amazing things her siblings are doing and she’s just editing romance in a publisher office. The advice is to get a life. It’s not great.
  • Between the Riley-baggage-about-her-family and the Kennedy-wedding-baggage and the getting-to-know-you romance between them, there’s a lot going on for this length of a story. They might not be on the “page” together quite long enough to make their true love believable. For example, why would Kennedy suggest he masquerade as her boyfriend when they’ve spoken for about 5 minutes ever?
  • This book doesn’t have sex, but it’s got salty language and straight talk about sex, so it’s probably not suitable for readers of so-called “clean” romance. 

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