The Twelve Nights of Christmas
Are you in the mood for a short, Christmas book? If the answer is yes, then this might just fill the bill. I had my doubts in the beginning, but fortunately kept reading. After the first few pages, I found it not only enjoyable, but to have a lot more substance than I expected.
Rio Zacarelli, internationally renowned billionaire and playboy, is in the midst of a mysterious, big deal. His advisers have cautioned him that he needs to keep his reputation clean until the deal is finalized, which means either staying completely celibate, or finding a wholesome woman who might enhance his image.
Poor Evie Anderson, her life couldn’t be much further from Rio’s. After she was dumped by her fiance, she tried to put on a bright face and moved to London where she landed a job as a receptionist at one of Rio’s hotels. She was criticized by one of her supervisors for being too friendly (take that as helpful and friendly) to the guests, sexually harassed by another, and demoted to housekeeping when she refused to give in to the harassment. Unable to pay her rent in her small flat, she’s tossed out by her landlord, and gets drenched in the bargain.
Evie heads to work, unsure where she’ll sleep. All kinds of red flags go up when her supervisor takes pity on Evie, apologizes for his earlier actions, and suggests she sleep in the penthouse suite. He even offers to have her drenched clothes cleaned. And, yes, the jerk assures Evie that no one will be using the suite that evening. Right.
So what does Rio see when he enters the suite? A naked Evie, asleep on top of the bed. Yep, he can’t resist, kisses her, and click – a photographer is running away with a shot of them. Rio initially accuses Evie of conspiring with the manager and photographer. But then he suggests to wholesome Evie that they pretend to be a couple until his mysterious deal is finalized. Evie agrees, not because she likes Rio, but because she doesn’t want to disappoint her grandfather.
Evie and Rio are complete opposites. Evie has little self-confidence and major body image issues. Rio is supremely confident, and at times arrogant. Evie loves Christmas; Rio hates it and can’t tolerate any holiday decorations. Evie is emotional and loving, while Rio holds himself in, avoiding attachments of any kind. But as this short book goes on, we discover there’s a lot more to each of them than what appears on the surface.
I liked Evie a great deal. I enjoyed watching her delight in simple things like singing a holiday song and making a snowman. I also respected the way she dealt with Rio at every turn. Rio is much more self-controlled, and remains a bit of a mystery until near the end of the book.
This read a bit like an adult, Christmas-time fairy-tale, but there’s more to it than that. Toward the end we discover more about Rio and Evie. Evie’s past helps explain why she’s willing to do anything to avoid hurting her much-loved grandfather. And Rio’s past, and his mysterious deal both help explain his actions in the present. Was this the best book I’ve ever read? No clearly, not. But it was an enjoyable read with a heroine I truly liked, and I will definitely try other books by the author.