Her Holiday Man
This is the time of year that I start binge reading Christmas romances. Something about them just screams “Comfort read!” to me. I’m usually not one for children in romances, but I tend to be a bit more tolerant with my holiday stories. Perhaps that’s why I downloaded Her Holiday Man. Shannon Stacey’s short novella is certainly sweet, but the leads just don’t have the emotional connection to make it magical.
Christina Forrester grew up wealthy and then did the expected thing by marrying the wealthy son of a family friend. However, it all turned upside down when her husband got caught running what sounds like a financial scam of Bernie Madoff proportions. Now divorced and all-but-penniless, she lives in small-town New England and tries to make ends meet while working in a convenience store.
Where many folks would likely rely upon the support of friends and family, Christina finds herself largely alone. The family seems to be conveniently dead for the most part, and her friends have all deserted her. So, she raises her son alone. Luckily, she has the perfect neighbor who is apparently happy to provide all kinds of free childcare so that she can actually survive on whatever the convenience store pays.
Not so surprisingly, when Will Broughton comes back to town and finds that his mother seems to have taken Christina on as a project, he gets a bit suspicious. He’s protective of his newly widowed mother and worries someone might try to take advantage of her kindheartedness. However, as he gets to see more of the situation with Christina, he comes to realize that far from taking financial advantage of Mrs. Broughton, Christina seems determined to stand on her own two feet. Christina doesn’t always have all the answers, but she seems both strong and willing to learn, and I found her quite likable.
Will’s had his share of losses, too, having lost his wife and unborn daughter quite tragically. He starts to bond with Christina’s young son and eventually with Christina, too. Seeing Will thaw out toward Christina really should have been a sweet story. Many of the things that happen in Her Holiday Man feel calculated to hit right at the same part of a person that triggers one to get all weepy at Hallmark commercials. Except that it just didn’t quite work for me. As I read, I kept thinking, “I should probably be melting here,” and yet the feeling was just lacking. I liked Will and Christina (and Christina’s son, who’s cute but not overly so), but the compelling emotional connection just seemed to be missing.
The story is a goodhearted, enjoyable one, but the relationship between the leads feels a bit rushed, particularly toward the end, and the chemistry between them just didn’t entirely convince me. It’s a sweet story, and a pleasant way to while away the afternoon, but in the end I found it likeable but not terribly memorable.