Merry Pucking Christmas
Grade : B+

The start of hockey season in North America also means the start of the holiday season and Merry Pucking Christmas by Kelly Jamieson combines these themes into a fun, sexy, vacation romance.

Harley Reid is tired of the sympathetic words from well-meaning townspeople as Christmas approaches. Having lost her parents a year earlier in a car accident, and with her ex-husband moving on with a new girlfriend, going home to an empty house (that never got the renovations she and her husband had planned) feels particularly lonely. When her aunt Nora invites her to spend the Christmas holidays with her in New York City, Harley decides that a small-town cozy Christmas, despite being a favourite of Hallmark movies, is not how she wants to spend her holidays. Nope, she’s going to New York.

New York Bears hockey player Nils Axelsson doesn’t find Christmas as fun as he used to, with the four day break between hockey games not enough time to visit his family back in Sweden. And with no girlfriend this year, it’s destined to be a lonely one, too, though his neighbour Nora has invited him to some of her Christmas parties, as she did last year. When a pint-sized beauty runs into him during an elevator mishap, he’s curious to know if she’s a new resident in the building. Not even a black eye from an errant puck in his latest hockey game can keep her out of his mind.

Nora has lots of plans for Harley, to show her what a New York Christmas is all about. A day spent at the spa, a new hairstyle, and some holiday shopping is just the start. But a slip on the ice leaves Nora with a fractured ankle and a need for someone to keep going with the list she’s made for Harley. A quick text to her neighbour, Nils, who agrees to take Harley to see the Rockettes in Nora’s place and voilà! – Nils discovers that the woman from the elevator is none other than Nora’s niece. Despite the awkwardness of the situation, Nils isn’t going to renege on his plans to escort Harley, especially since she’s from out of town and he’s between games and has some free time. Harley’s enthusiasm and enjoyment of the show and the atmosphere go a long way to brighten up Nils mood, too. Spending time with Harley could make this Christmas something special, especially as now that they’ve gotten over the awkward bits, they find themselves quite attracted to each other. A sexy holiday fling is a perfect Christmas present for them both, but when it’s time for Harley to return home, will they be able to say goodbye so easily?

I’m a fan of vacation romances where emotions come on fast and then have to be dealt with when the fun times come to an end. Nils and Harley are in that situation, enjoying classic New York holidays experiences, getting to know one another and understanding that since they don’t have much time together, they might as well make the most of it. While Nils, known in the press as the Swedish Stud, has never had a problem getting female companionship, it’s different with Harley since she doesn’t follow hockey and has no idea who he is when she meets him. And for Harley, it’s great for her ego and self-confidence for a handsome guy like Nils to be interested in her. Her goal to enjoy her adventure in New York, to be brave and carefree, leads straight to Nils’s bed for some sexy times with both of them knowing it’s just for the holidays. They also bond over having deceased parents (Nils lost his father when he was twelve) and genuinely enjoy spending time together outside of bed, too.

Fans of hockey and hockey romances will recognize the skill with which the author is able to translate on-ice action into on-page excitement; it’s one of the reasons why I enjoy her hockey romances so much. As in any sports romance, team camaraderie (and sometimes rivalries) play a big part in creating the atmosphere and worldbuilding of the story and here it’s familiar secondary characters from previous Bears series books that help Nils realize that his relationship with Harley doesn’t have to end. There’s also a secondary relationship between Nora and an ex-boyfriend with whom she’s reconnected that helps Harley figure out what she wants for her future. Overall, Merry Pucking Christmas is a cheerful seasonal romance with a satisfying happy ending that makes me want to visit New York at Christmastime (and wish for a fairy-Godmother-like aunt who would take me for a spa and shopping day in NYC).

Reviewed by Maria Rose
Grade : B+

Sensuality: Warm

Review Date : November 26, 2023

Publication Date: 11/2023

Recent Comments …

  1. “What follows next is the Forced Seduction scene. Sigh! I had heard these were popular in romance novels written in…

Maria Rose

I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.
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