Christina Forrester is starting over. After a financial scandal sent her ex-husband to prison, she's left raising her young son without any of the comforts of their old life. Budgets, coupons, lawn care—you name it, she's learning to do it all on her own. Well, almost on her own—she'd be lost without Gail Broughton, the kind widow across the street. But when Gail's son comes home, Christina's vow to never trust a man again is put to the test.
Will Broughton left town because he was tired of being "that poor man" who lost his wife and unborn child in a tragic accident. But years have passed and, with his dad gone and his mom alone, it's time to go home. Only his mother's not alone. She's taken Christina under her wing, and the beautiful and determined single mother awakens something in Will he thought was buried forever.
As Will and Christina are forced to spend more time together, feelings that are more than neighborly grow between them. And with Christmas coming and a child filling both houses with holiday cheer, it becomes nearly impossible not to embrace the joy—and the love—in their lives.
I’m not a huge fan of Christmas romance in general, but there comes a point in November where I feel the need to read at least a couple, in order that I don’t turn into a total Grinch, and so I was happy to find a no-risk Shannon Stacey Christmas novella to ease me into the holiday season.
Of course, being a story by Shannon Stacey, I loved Her Holiday Man. But I have to admit it wasn’t the light holiday read I was expecting. I know I’m a total wimp, but, seriously, I cried all the way through!
Her Holiday Man follows the story of Will who left town after his wife and baby died, but returns to help look after his mother. Far from needing his help, his mother, it turns out, is busy looking after the small son of her new neighbor Christina, who has her own troubled past. As the four spend time together, they become a family without intending to, and Christina and Will have difficulty keeping their hands off each other even as they aren’t quite ready to go into new relationships.
So given their pasts, a lot of the conflict in this story comes, quite justifiably, from fear of commitment on both Will and Christina’s parts. Neither want to be hurt as they were before, and they have both been hurt to such huge degrees – pretty much losing everything.
Will is still very much mourning the loss of his wife and baby, and can’t bear the thought of going through that again. He is very loyal to his family, though, even initially concerned that his mother is being use by Christina. But she and her son soon become part of his family, even before Will and she are romantically involved.
Christina lost everything after her divorce and her ex-husband was sent to jail. Now she is determined to learn how to be independent, but of course, with a small child, that's easier said than done. One of the things I particularly liked about this story was that there was no cop out in her search for independence – Will doesn’t just become someone to look after her, but someone who helps her find independence even as their relationship is developing.
The sexy scenes between Will and Christina are sweet rather than steamy, but the sexual tension throughout is pretty hot.
My only difficulty with this novella was that there is a hell of a lot of back story and emotional trauma for our hero and heroine to come to terms with in such a short piece. I definitely felt satisfied at the end – there’s an especially sweet epilogue – but I think I would have liked a little more time to deal with all the background and turmoil with these characters.
Although it was a little heavier than I was expecting, I’ve loved every contemporary romance I’ve read by Shannon Stacey and this was no exception.
Her Holiday Man by Shannon Stacey is a Christmas romance, released by Carina Press on November 3, 2014.
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