by Debra Salonen
Published by Tule Publishing, December 2016
About the Book:
Ad exec Krista Martin, while feeling more Grinch than elf, still jumps at the chance to co-chair Marietta’s Secret Santa Society. Why not? Especially since brilliant, attractive, and innovative tech wunderkind Jonah Andrews has agreed to help. He's well connected and Krista's hoping for some advice on rebooting her career.
Jonah knows Krista has a not-so-hidden agenda, but sparring with her over cocoa at their Secret Santa meetings is the most fun he’s had since returning to his old hometown. Krista may come across as all business, but Jonah’s positive he’s glimpsed a little girl inside her who wants to believe in Santa... and in love.
This book is part of a 12-book series set in Marietta, Montana and centered on a local chocolate shop. Six different authors must have divvied up the months of the year and come up with these full-length stand-alone stories of love and sweet romance set around the chocolate shop. It's a cool concept in general - and after reading this sweet holiday story, I'm really tempted to grab up a few of the others in the series. But right now I'm all about the Christmas romances. This one fit right in with my reading agenda.
The blurb doesn't give the story justice, although it's a well written and intriguing back-of-book grabber. Krista isn't as self-serving as the blurb leads us to believe, nor does she jump at the chance to be part of the Secret Santa society. As the child of two actors who are still married but live on opposite coasts, her holidays have always meant a bitter family tug-of-war. As a grown woman, her last holiday in NYC included a breakup with a boyfriend who was trying to use her to further his own acting career.
Jonah is jaded when it comes to relationships, but not to Christmas. He grew up in a warm, loving family right there in Marietta. As a tech genius he's made billions with his inventions, but hasn't been as lucky at love. His last two relationships ended in lawsuits and big payouts, so he sees women as always wanting his money instead of his heart. He's in town for the holidays to take care of his parents home and their rescue dogs, as well as taking his parents spot on the local charity board, the Secret Santa Society. While walking the dogs, he runs into Krista - literally - on the sidewalk in front of the chocolate shop and the chemistry between them is palpable.
The author keeps the story firmly in "sweet" territory, not showing us what happens in the bedroom (or anywhere else) but the story has enough drama (little d) to keep a reader invested and turning pages.
If you're looking for a sweet Christmas romance, or a new series in a beautiful semi-rural setting, give this book and this series a shot. Grab a copy on AMAZON.