Not Another New Year's
Christie Ridgway’s Not Another New Year’s is one of those novels that starts off with too many stereotypes and then gets better. I had very low expectations after reading the first chapter, but found myself agreeably surprised about some interesting developments later – not that all the stereotypes disappear, but still. In addition, Christie Ridgway’s style reads very well.
On New Year’s Eve elementary school teacher Hannah Davis arrives at San Diego airport only to have her purse and luggage snatched away. Hannah was jilted by her long-time fiancé, Duncan, during the year and felt low ever since, so this short holiday is supposed to be a little adventure to cheer her up. With only the clothes on her back and a few dollars hidden in her bra, Hannah takes a taxi to one of the two addresses she has in Coronado, a suburb of San Diego. This one is for Hart’s Bar, where she is to meet Tanner Hart, a man who used to work for her uncle. The bar is crowded, so instead of trying to find Tanner, Hannah drinks too many mojitos and lands on the lap of the most gorgeous man she has ever seen. They kiss, they find out that both have been celibate too long for comfort, and they end up in the man’s bed, only with Hannah falling asleep while the man is getting some condoms.
The next morning Hannah is woken up by a woman entering the apartment. She now finds out that the man is Tanner, who served with her uncle in the Secret Service, and he is aghast to realize that he almost slept with his former/possible future boss’s niece. Tanner is a man in a crisis: Almost a year ago an agent was killed protecting a potentate from the Middle East, and at the same time Tanner was kissed by Desirée, the potentate’s half-American daughter. He has been on indefinite leave since then, with Desirée sticking to him like a burr trying to make it up. They are not a couple, and Desirée is happy to offer Hannah clothes and a bed in her hotel room.
All the main characters start out as one big cliché: the sweet-natured schoolmarm who wants to let her hair down, the disillusioned former agent, the tough ex-marine (Tanner’s older brother Troy), the spoilt little rich girl. They are likable, but so very predictable. It is only later in the book that they reveal unexpected facets of themselves, and even then most developments take the well-trodden paths of what-to-expect-in-a-romance. In addition, while lust runs hot right from page one, it is a bit hard to see when the characters actually find the time to fall in love, so their relationships remain focussed too much on mere sexual attraction for my taste.
However hackneyed some of the plot elements are, Christie Ridgway can carry it off. She writes in a very charming, colorful style that made me smile and sigh in turns. She uses a lot of imagery to highlight her characters’ emotions, and almost all of it worked very well indeed for me. I ended up reading the book more for the style and the good-natured humor of it than for originality.
In addition, there was one plot element that was handled excellently and held me in its grip. Hannah has a hidden agenda for traveling to Coronado: She intends to confront Caroline, the woman Duncan left her for. Very slowly more is revealed about Hannah’s and Duncan’s relationship and the reasons for its failure, and the confrontation between the two women was satisfying and convincing.
Not Another New Year’s is a sequel to Must Love Mistletoe, and is in fact set only a few days later. But you needn’t have read the former to enjoy the latter. All in all, this is a charming and entertaining read, if not exactly original. The date it’s set at is of minor importance, so you can enjoy it any time of the year.