Holiday Wishes by Jill Shalvis
Series: Heartbreaker Bay, 4.5
Released: November 7, 2017
Reviewed by Sheena
Quote: “Okay, tough girl,” he said softly, nuzzling at her throat. “No questions. No talking. You go ahead and give ignoring what’s still between us your best shot. I’ll wait right here.”
Tis the season for holiday-themed romances. Snowed in lovers, couples reuniting under the mistletoe, finding love on the slopes and HEA’s that coincide with Santa himself. I plan to immerse myself in these fun, sexy holiday romances all winter long, and recently it was just me, my hot cocoa and Jill Shalvis’ Holiday Wishes to keep me warm.
Recently and quite unceremoniously dumped by her fiance’, Lottie is more than ready to host the last visitors for the next several weeks at her B&B and then jet off to Mexico to recuperate, reevaluate and revitalize her life. She has three things on her to do list; Sand, Surf, and Surfer. Love has let Lottie down and she’s decided to try things a new uncharted way. No more is she hyper monogamous, Lottie has decided to cut loose and enter the no strings attached, (make) love to them and leave them in her freewheeling and unattached wake. All she has to do is get through the next couple of days and then it’s hello Cabo, goodbye heartbreak. Unfortunately, an unexpected blast from the past and monster storm derail her plans and Lottie, well Lottie loses it.
Sean got a bum rap from the start. He had sex with a girl and ghosted her when he was 16, because duh! and hasn’t lived it down ten years later. I’m sure he did grow up to be a nice dude, but Sean was slandered so thoroughly, so early on I couldn’t help but consider him immature and there wasn’t much time for his reputation to recover. Sean is beyond his Lothario ways and deep down, wanting a forever kind of love of his own. He is front and center for his brother’s wedding and also on what feels like an apology tour for being an irresponsible, wild oat sowing young man. He’s described as habitually trouble making and the perpetual albatross around his older and much more responsible brother Finn’s neck. Personally, I found Finn to be a fuddy-duddy stick in the mud. Case in point, Sean had to sit through a chastisement regarding a Vegas past Vegas trip, where stripper pole-gate went down.
“Remember when you took me to Vegas and when we got there, every hotel was booked and we had to stay at the Magic-O motel?”
“Man, a guy screws up one time . . .”
“We had a stripper pole in our rooms, Sean.”
Clearly, the prude patrol was on the prowl and Finn could not resist giving Sean a hard time. (Bye Finn!) This time there were no hyper-sexualized motel rooms, only a rustically quaint and inviting B&B that the wedding party booked for the weekend, and to his cosmic karma, the B&B is run and hosted by the girl he ran out on as a teenager, but never forgot, Lottie!
These two were primed for second chance love and after some furtive glances, frank admissions and heavy flirting, they hook up and find that the tables are turned. This time Lottie is the one primed to walk away and leave Sean holding the emotional bag. This is where I became firmly secure in my assessment that Lottie was a basket-case. Every reason that she used as an excuse not to start something beyond the physical with Sean was bogus. Here I was, thinking Sean lived on the other side of the world and aside from her very recent broken engagement distance and vastly different lives would be the major obstacle. I find out Sean lives 40 minutes away. 40 minutes.
Most people travel just as far and further to commute to work why in the world did she think it wouldn’t work just because he (barely) lived in the next town? This was such a weak objection that I wish she’d just stuck with being emotionally unavailable because having a fit because someone lives 4 minutes away is ridiculous.
Overall, Holiday Wishes was a quick read, though the dialogue, especially among the dudes, was a little corny for my taste. I was on “bro-speak” overload. There was a sexy scene or two but the romance was very lukewarm. Tepid even. They both spent far too much time obsessing over how two 16-year-olds reacted to breaking up. When they did decide to take steps toward one another, it made for some nice moments, particularly when Sean agonized over writing the vows and wedding speech for his brother.
The biggest challenge I had with this read was buying into their romance and liking the characters beyond a general fondness. Do you know how distracting it is to read a novel with one skeptical eyebrow raised? Thank goodness this was a novella.
There is an HEA/HFNish conclusion and a very nice epilogue that felt absolutely appropriate given the time and circumstances surrounding Sean and Lottie hooking up. So if nothing else, it ended well.