Heat Factor: Holy arm porn, batman! Plus: 🍆🍆🍆
Character Chemistry: Checks every box
Plot: Hallmark Christmas Special, complete with twee alpine monarchy
Overall: I am cackling with glee
I am the perfect audience for this book. I occasionally watch a Hallmark Christmas Special – but I swear to myself that I’m watching it ironically. And then I still get all emotional at the emotional parts. If that describes you: welcome to the club! Read this book! You’ll love it!
Here’s the set up. Marie, the princess, is in New York speechifying at the UN about the ongoing refugee crisis in Europe and also visiting high-end watch sellers. As one does. There’s a party on a boat she desperately needs to get to, but her hired car has broken down, so she hails a cab. Leo, the cab driver, is off duty, but Gabby, his 11-year old sister is in the back seat, and is like, “You have to pick up that lady in the ball gown, she looks like a princess!!!!!!!!!” So he does. And when Leo discovers that he does, in fact, have a princess in the car with him, he puts his head on his steering wheel and groans. Relatable.
What follows is utterly tropetastic but also so so charming and often hilarious. Because of course Leo and Marie strike up a friendship, mainly because Leo is utterly unimpressed by her princess-ness, but rather sees her for who she really is. (And brings her bagels.) Of course, having adventures in NYC is not twee enough for a Hallmark Movie Special, so halfway through the book Marie invites Leo and Gabby to come spend Christmas in her alpine micro-nation.
Of course, this is a Jenny Holiday romance, so it’s not all hijinks all the time. Both Leo and Marie are deeply lonely people who are doing their best to just hold it all together. Leo especially is struggling: after the untimely death of his parents (at Christmastime) a few years ago, he became the guardian for his much younger sister. Which meant dropping out of college and working multiple jobs while also constantly worrying that he’s getting parenting wrong. So he doesn’t have a lot of free time for leisure activities. Like dating. Marie’s mother also passed away (at Christmastime) a few years ago. In the years since, instead of dealing with his grief, her father built a hard shell of anger around himself and also started neglecting his royal duties – so Marie has found herself increasingly shouldering his burdens. Because Leo and Marie are so lonely and so responsible, I was really rooting for them to not only build an emotional connection, but also to be able to have a little fun, and Holiday delivers on both counts.
Please also note that this book is sexy, in the best way. By which I mean: consent, safe sex, and the sex scenes (including a doozy of a sex scene that doesn’t happen) work to advance the relationship between the characters.
Here’s the TL;DR version of my review: I loved it and have zero complaints. And it’s the first in a trilogy! So excited to see The Rake and the Woman Who Has Sworn Off Love Forever get it on in book 2!
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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