by Charlee James
Publisher: Entangled: Bliss
Publication Date: December 4, 2017
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
When quiet, bookish Izzy Simon accepts a two-week assignment as an assistant for an author of children’s books, it seems like the perfect way for her to make some much-needed extra money, but the grumpy author claims he doesn’t want or need her services. He might be as handsome as a storybook prince, but his prickly personality and resistance to all things Christmas are sure to make for a chilly holiday season.
Derek Croft never agreed to the cheery temp his staff arranges for him while they’re on vacation. Izzy is his polar opposite, but Derek soon realizes she could be the perfect solution to his interfering family…if he can get her to agree to pretend to be his live-in girlfriend. Before long Izzy’s sweet disposition and unflappable optimism has him decorating a tree and looking forward to late night hot cocoa, but he’s all too aware their time together can’t last.
This book is very much a fairy tale, with a sweet and innocent – but insecure – librarian who, with the help of a little Christmas magic, tames the savage (ok, more like rude and grumpy) beast. It’s not a direct retelling of Beauty and the Beast, but contains elements that someone of a certain age (cough cough) would recognize from the animated Disney version. There’s a big old castle, a library, a forbidden room, and weirdest of all, wolves.
Izzy was practically a Disney princess. She’s sweet, innocent, and impoverished, and an absolute fountain of Christmas spirit – or, as Derek calls her, “Santa’s evil elf.” Derek, on the other hand, was quite the beast. He was so rude and unlikeable, at first, that I had a hard time warming up to him. Both Izzy and Derek had serious abandonment issues that led to roadblocks in their relationship. Izzy couldn’t believe that anyone would actually love her, and Derek was too afraid of abandonment and betrayal to love anyone. My favorite character, however, was Derek’s St. Bernard, Atticus!
“No matter how friendly they got, she had to protect her heart. They were from different worlds, and once this charade was over, she’d go back to hers, and he’d forget she ever existed. That’s what people typically did to her anyway.”
Unfortunately, I had a lot of problems that took me out of the fairy tale. The major one was that their relationship started while they were still boss and employee, and the power dynamic was very uneven. Derek ends up paying her to pretend to be his girlfriend, and while I did feel like their relationship was consensual and organic, it still left me with a bit of an icky feeling.
Also, the ending felt very rushed. Without getting into spoilers, I felt like the main conflict was not resolved properly. What Derek did to Izzy was very hurtful, and her feelings for him aside, I didn’t feel like he properly demonstrated that he wouldn’t do it again before she pretty much unconditionally accepted him back.
Overall, this is a cute and sweet holiday romance, especially if you can overlook some of the issues I had with it. If you’re looking for a sweet holiday fairy tale, then this is your book!