Just for the Holidays
Adriana Herrera’s Sambrano Studios series – about a family-run movie business – adds a charming chapter with Just for the Holidays, a Christmas-themed romance with a lot of wonderful tension and romantic warmth.
Perla Sambrano is a casting director trying to coax her ex into taking a part in a new telenova produced by her family’s production company. Gael Monetz desperately wants to break out of the stereotypical parts that constantly have him playing tooth-grinding Latino stereotypes. They’d be the perfect solution to each other’s problems, were they not hopelessly attracted to one another in spite of their very messy break-up while Perla was in college (she was Gael’s sister’s roommate at Yale and they’re still friends; this is all detailed in book one of the series One Week to Claim it All) six years before. She’s not going to put herself through that kind of heartbreak again, thank you.
Gael is utterly afraid to get closer to Perla. His family has a horrible track record when it comes to romance, and he’s not going to subject her to that, especially after their previous romantic disaster. She wants to keep things professional between them because dating one of her stars wouldn’t be a good look for the family business. But their plans to begin shooting are stymied by a blizzard; they end up snowed in together with his family, pretend-dating to please his mom, who catches them rehearsing a kissing scene and continues her disapproval of their relationship, and sharing the (GASP!) only bed left in the house. Will their relationship stay platonic or dip back into romance?
This book is a little more tropey than you may be used to from Herrera, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Sweet, tender and passionate – the author lends all of her strengths to the material and creates a lovable romance from it.
I liked Perla a bit more than Gael, if only because his reasons for avoiding falling back into love with Perla are so predictable (His father cheated on his mother, left the family when Gael was ten and then died, oh no, he can’t put Perla through something like that!). And yeah, it’s disappointing that Perla waited six years for Gael when he did um, not. At all. But those are the worst parts of a very Christmasy romance. It works beautifully and keeps the reader on their toes throughout.
Herrera knows how to write about attraction, and boy, do Perla and Gael have it in spades. As always, she makes you feel for her characters, sometime in spite of their outrageousness. She also manages to make you love them in spite of their flaws. I will say that I did wish Perla’s stepmother had a little bit more nuance to her, but the rest of the Montez and Sambranos we meet are interesting and fully three-dimensional.
Just for the Holidays is a wonderful quick bite of a romance, and if you like Herrera or forced proximity romance, this will be your cup of tea.