Holiday With a Twist
Fans of Shannon Stacey will probably find plenty to like in Holiday With a Twist. The story features likable, down-to-earth characters who actually have lives and families and, well, don’t live in a Romlandia vacuum. As with just about everything I’ve read by this author, I enjoyed the story even if this wasn’t my very favorite of hers.
So, what’s the setup for this holiday tale? Leigh Holloway has returned to her small-town home for one last Christmas in the family house before her parents downsize. However, Leigh has a bit of a secret. Unbeknownst to her family, she and her fiancé have ended their engagement and since Leigh worked with her intended, she has also quit her job. She doesn’t want her family, particularly her mother, to know that she is now single and jobless because she fears that it would cause them to rethink their plans. They have already taken in her almost-divorced sister and Leigh doesn’t want to cause any more stress.
Leigh’s plan to wait on sharing the news about her big life changes until after Christmas probably would have worked were it not for a chance encounter at the only place in town to have an alcohol license. That’s right. The local bartender happens to be someone from Leigh’s past. Back in high school, Croy Dawson dated Leigh’s best friend and was madly in love. He blamed Leigh for the breakup, so their last meeting had taken place on somewhat less-than-optimal terms.
Even though Leigh feels awkward (to put it mildly) about seeing Croy again, she finds herself in need of some fortification after a bit too much family togetherness. What starts as Leigh getting a drink ends up with her having one too many and letting Croy in on the secrets she’s keeping from family. Oh, and she also has a talk with him about kissing that is almost as sexy as the first kiss they actually share. That first kiss, by the way, is one of the high points of the story and one of the best first kiss scenes I’ve read in years. Shannon Stacey writes it so vividly that readers will be left almost as breathless as the characters.
Leigh and Croy are both very endearing individuals and I liked that they were able to give one another a chance. I could understand why Croy blamed Leigh for the loss of his high school love and while I wish they’d worked through this issue a little sooner, I was glad they finally got there. My main issue with the story comes from all the sneaking around. Leigh and Croy are very clearly beginning a relationship but Leigh is also still holding herself out as an engaged woman in their small town. I could understand her not wanting to cause more worry for her parents by telling them about her broken engagement and unemployment at the beginning. However, I didn’t see how spending tons of time with Croy while supposedly engaged to another man would reassure her parents all that much. Leigh and Croy spend way too much time in “stealth mode” with their relationship, which results in the last portion of the story feeling very rushed.
Even if it’s not perfect, Holiday With a Twist is still a sweet, fun holiday read. If you’re inclined toward Christmas romances, the kiss (and the talk of kissing) in this one is not to be missed.