Desert Isle Keeper
Cinderella’s New York Christmas
One minute Anissa Lang is cleaning ski chalets in Austria and the next she is whisked off to New York on the arm of handsome prince/billionaire, Leo Baxter. The trip certainly brings them closer and leads to a happily-ever-after fit for a princess, but along the way they have their own individual dragons to slay. This book would be right at home on Hallmark Channel’s ‘Countdown to Christmas’ (I’ve already cast it in my mind).
Leo Baxter was adopted in his childhood, but never stopped wondering about his family. When he received a letter from his birth parents that they were desperate to meet him, he hastily arranged a meeting. Unfortunately, their helicopter crashed on the way to the meeting, so his dreams of a family reunion are a bit truncated. When the story opens, he is on his way to meet his siblings for the reading of their parent’s will. Siblings he has never met before, but to whom he is now bound.
At the reading of the will, they all discover that their parents exceptionally successful jewelry business has been left not to the son they raised, but to the one they never met. As this sort of story demands, there is a condition in the will that Leo must run it for a certain period of time or the company goes up for public sale and out of the family. Trope alert for anyone who loves will contrivances! Leo has no interest in doing this, of course, and thus our first conflict is established.
Anissa grew up dreaming of gold medals at the Olympics, but an injury sidelined her skiing career. Now cleaning chalets at an exclusive ski resort, she’s torn between letting that dream completely die – her knee would never recover from another injury – or risking everything and getting back to training. Her chemistry with Leo is instant, and so when he asks her on a date she accepts immediately. Never mind that he wants to take her to New York, and they are currently in Austria – he’s a billionaire and she’s up for playing Cinderella.
The problem with this mix of tropes is that for me to buy in, you have to lean hard into them. It’s why these kinds of stories work better in Presents books – I need to believe the passion is literally sparking fireworks around the couple and that’s simply not the case here. For example, I have no idea why Leo is this drawn to Anissa, except that the plot needs him to be and she’s pretty. As to why Anissa would hop a plane with a stranger? Also more tell than show.
Harlequin Romance, as a line, is hit or miss for me. It’s certainly not my favorite line they currently produce, but it has turned out some good reads. This, unfortunately, is not really one of them. It tips far too often from sweet to saccharine, and even with all of the required drama of the tropes chosen, manages to be boring. To allude to my opening – if this were a Hallmark movie, it’s one I’d fold laundry to.