Publisher: Avon Impulse
Source: the publisher in exchange for an honest review
Release Date: November 8th, 2016
Challenges: Finishing the Series Reading Challenge | NetGalley & Edelweiss Reading Challenge
Buying Links: Amazon* | Book Depository* | ARe* | iTunes* | Barnes & Noble
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Blurb from goodreads:
New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis returns to Heartbreaker Bay with a fun and festive holiday novella!
It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years. Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl.
Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options. She’s had a crush on Max since high school and she knows he’s attracted to her, too. But they have history… and Max is the only one who knows why it went south.
They’ve done a good job of ignoring their chemistry so far, but a long road trip in a massive blizzard might be just what they need to face their past… and one steamy, snowy night is all it takes to bring Max and Rory together at last.
Okay, first a few items before I dive into the story itself. The ebook has not only this story but excerpts from the three full-length books in the series. Meaning that as you're reading, the percentage indicator does not reflect the length of the story. In my Kindle ARC, the story ended at 58%. Even so, the story had a somewhat abrupt ending. I really thought there'd be more. Also, you don't need to have read the preceding books; this works fine as a stand alone.
I've been curious about Rory since her appearance in the first book. She's been through a rough time - she ran away from home and had a hard time on the streets. She turned her life around with help from Willa, the heroine from "The Trouble with Mistletoe".
Max and Rory knew each other in high school but a traumatic event changed both their lives. They met up again a few years ago and the sparks have been flying ever since. Rory reluctantly accepts a ride home from Max, trying to get back to her family and make amends for her behavior years ago. The romance was both sweet and tart and while the "I love you"s happened quickly, they have know each other several years before getting involved.
I liked Rory's strength, her toughness, and her vulnerability. I could relate to her feeling misunderstood by her family and her hesitancy to reconnect. Max was both a pain the butt and a sweetie. I wanted to smack him and kiss him in pretty much equal parts.
I have a few complaints about the story. The first I mentioned already and that was how fast they said "I love you" to each other. The second is how little time was given to Rory's reunion with her family. After all the build up, I mean, it was the reason for her trip, and then it just fizzles out. It's a happy ending of sorts but given short shrift. Despite those complaints, I really enjoyed the story. It gave me warm fuzzies. I was sorry it ended so quickly but I know I'll see them in the next book, "Accidentally on Purpose".
My review of book one, "Sweet Little Lies"
My review of book two, "The Trouble with Mistletoe"
Max whistled for Carl but the wind was so loud, the sound got swallowed up.
Rory slipped out of the truck and back into the mind numbing cold to make her way to Max. “Carl!” she yelled and nearly got blown over by the next gust of wind.
Max caught her and held her at his side. “You could’ve gotten home,” he said. “You know you’re crazy, right?” he asked.
Yes, she knew. And yeah, her whole purpose had been to show her family she’d changed but hey, there’d be plenty of time to stress about that later. “This is for Carl, not you.”
He choked out a rough laugh. “You’re still crazy,” he said but he’d kept his arm around her, holding her close. And he didn’t sound quite as mad at her anymore.
Which might have just been wishful thinking on her part.
“Carl!” Max yelled, using the hand that wasn’t holding onto her to cup around his mouth. “Carl, come!”
From out of the woods came a huge snow abomination. When it was only a few feet from them, it stopped, shook, and sent snow flying.
Proud of himself, he sat happily at their feet and panted a smile, while Rory fought with relieved tears.
What was wrong with her tonight?
Max got them all back into the truck. He dried off Carl the best he could and then turned to Rory.
She had no idea that she’d lost the battle with her emotions until Max cupped her face and swiped a tear from her cheek with his thumb. “Rory,” he said, voice low and concerned.
“Does Christmas always have to suck so hard?” she whispered.
He looked at her for a long beat and then slowly shook his head. “No. Not always.”
They stared at each other some more and then…he kissed her. Softly at first, carefully, but she didn’t need either and let him know by fisting her hands in his jacket and letting out a needy little whimper for more.
This wrenched a deep, rough male groan from him that rumbled up from his chest, and she clutched at him, trying to get closer. Before she knew it, he’d hauled her over the console and into his lap, tucking her thighs on either side of his, letting her feel exactly how his body had responded to the kiss. He was hard.
Hungry for the connection, desperate to forget her problems, trembling in her boots for more of this man beneath her, she kissed him back with all the pent-up longing and need she felt. When they broke free, his eyes were heavy-lidded with lust and desire, and she had one single, devastating thought.
All these years later, she still wanted him as her own.