The Twelve Nights of Christmas by Sarah Morgan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
The Twelve Nights of Christmas is the feel-good kind of romance that a reader can pull off the shelf when they want an easy read that will infuse them with Christmas good vibrations. I endorse it with a four star rating.
Well, it's simple. The storyline is easy to follow, the characters are well-developed but surprisingly likeable, and it's a story about rekindled hope when things seem dark. Christmas to me is about hope and I love the idea that a short book can give me that feeling of Christmas with a good story.
What I liked:
Honestly, I liked that while I was prepared to dislike Zio as the hero, it didn't take too long before I realized that I did like him. In fact, I felt kind of sorry for him. He had a bad case of tunnel vision and living inside a box syndrome (enchained by his past). Because of a very rough event (actually quite horrid) as a child, he absolutely abhored Christmas. Now I am like Evie, I absolutely love the holiday, but I can understand how people can attach the day with memories of really bad events that took place around Christmas. I felt a lot of sympathy for him because of that. On top of his less-than-ideal childhood was the betrayal he faced at the hands of another person. That was sort of a case of bringing something on yourself because of the choices you made, but it was still pretty lousy to go through. But I really appreciated was how he showed some fortitude and rose to the occasion in that situation. Even though I didn't like a lot of things about his lifestyle, I feel that Sarah Morgan makes him surprisingly sympathetic. He had some hidden depths that I appreciated, and he was honestly a decent guy considering everything.
I loved Evie. Yes, she is a bit of the too good to be true heroine, but it works for this book. She had some self-esteem issues that would bother some readers, but I don't mind because I think that is true of many woman to be self-conscious about their looks and their appeal to men, especially when they were recently dumped. I think her spunk and her willingness to tell it like it is with Zio saved her from being too much of a Pollyanna. At the beginning, I had trouble understanding why she would have trusted what the sleazy lunkhead Carlos told her about staying in the penthouse. It was a bit of a contrived plot device, but the story get better from there. Most definitely, I have to say that her sweet nature was infectious. She's actually what I enjoyed the most about this book. I loved the scene at the party where she drinks too much champagne (her first experience with it), and charms everyone, including two grumpy Russian billionaires with her heretofore hidden prowess at languages and her stirring rendition of "The Twelve Days of Christmas." The scene where she takes Zio shopping to prepare for a very special event was hilarious and heartwarming. It sort of reminded me of the movie "The Gameplan" with The Rock, which turned out to be one of my favorites even though I generally avoid family movies like that (although sometimes I end up loving them very much). I guess you could say this is a less offensive version of Pretty Woman (I'm sorry, but I found that movie's storyline really offensive, but if you liked it, that's cool for you).
I should add that Evie had a lot more agency and power in this relationship that I am unfortunately used to seeing in some of the Harlequin Presents. She sort of starts out seemingly downtrodden, but it's more because of her particular goals than the fact that she has nothing to offer anyone. I think she could do anything she wanted, honestly. And she's not just eye candy. She's a very clever and deep woman, surprisingly perceptive and very emotionally healthy, considering. I enjoyed her relationship with her grandfather very much, how she values his opinion and genuinely loves him and wants him to be happy with her.
I think this is a good, quick Christmas read for fans of Harlequin Presents and other contemporary romance fans who don't mind some of the more obvious tropes. What I appreciate about Sarah Morgan is that she writes to her audience (without insulting our intelligence) and takes the familiar about this romance subgenre and gives a fresh, enjoyable story with fantastic dialogue and back and forth between her couples. I can't give it five stars because of the things I mentioned above, like some of the implausible aspects, and because I just don't care for womanizing billionaires, honestly. But it's a very respectable four stars, and I'd recommend this book.
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