A Princess for Christmas, Book #3
Heat Factor: Two encounters toward the end of the book
Character Chemistry: Two obviously compatible people working against each other because of external circumstances
Plot: Modernization vs tradition, fought out against a backdrop of twee mountain villages.
Overall: Do you like competence porn? If so, this is the book for you
If you read Jenny Holiday’s previous books set in Eldovia, an unbearably twee micro-monarchy in the Alps, you might recall a certain Mr. Benz, equerry to the king, hanging out in the background and being competent and low-key meddling in the love lives of others. Now, he gets his own story.
The first thing to note is that Mr. Benz is 30, and I definitely thought he was like, 55 after I read A Princess for Christmas. I guess young guys can seem old when all they do is wear very formal suits and be really really good at their jobs?
Anyways, Mr. Benz is thrown for a loop by the arrival of one Ms. Cara Delaney, whose aesthetic is corporate goth and whose job is downsizing people. Plus she’s an American. But he is very attracted to her very dark red fingernails and is very confused by his pants feelings.
On the surface, it might seem like Ms. Delaney and Mr. Benz have nothing in common. Ms. Delaney is an efficiency expert, hired to bring the luxury watch company run by the Eldovian monarchy into the 21st century; Mr. Benz is a staunch traditionalist who doesn’t see why this watch company has to modernize, anyway. Once you get deeper, it becomes quickly apparent that they are both family-oriented workaholics who care deeply about doing the right thing by the people who rely on them. Plus they are both nerds of the highest order, though they disagree about whether Star Trek or Star Wars is a superior franchise.
Holiday really excels at writing interesting, well-rounded characters who—even if I find some of their actions questionable—I like spending time with over the course of the book, and this case is no different. Matteo and Cara could easily be written as flat caricatures who simply decide to have hate sex and then catch feelings, but they’re not. Furthermore, Holiday manages to balance the needs and desires of these characters without them having to give up their careers. This is so clutch, because often (at least in the Hallmark movies that Holiday is paying homage to in this series) the career types give up their jobs once they find true love. Matteo and Cara might be feeling a bit lonely and burned out as the holidays approach, but they also both love and excel at their jobs, and their HEA takes their work into account.
I will say that I found this book less funny than other books by this author. I would not describe it in any way as a comedy; it’s more like a quiet drama. Other books by Holiday have walked the line of hilarious moments balanced by the characters processing their (sometimes not inconsiderable) trauma. Here, we don’t have the big highs of laugh-out-loud scenes, but we also don’t have the big lows of gut-punching turmoil. It’s also less sexy than other books I’ve read by this author, though there is the requisite scene of the characters’ first sexual encounter not including penis-in-vagina intercourse because they don’t have condoms with them. (My sister binge-read the Bridesmaids Behaving Badly series, noticed that dynamic, and now I can’t help but notice the fact that this happens in every single one of Holiday’s books.)
All of which is to say, while this is a solid romance and a well-written book, it didn’t quite hit for me. I wanted higher highs and lower lows and sexier sex.
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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