by Delilah Peters
Series: Love in New Bedford #2
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: October 28, 2019
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Hold on to your cardigan! This small-town Christmas is about to get steamy…
The most recent addition to New Bedford’s crack team of small-town librarians is Ben, a mysterious, tight-lipped recluse who prefers cataloging in the basement to interacting with his eccentric coworkers.
Poppy, the intrepid circulation clerk, is content to let him brood alone…at first.
As Christmas Eve approaches, Poppy braves Ben’s prickly demeanor—and the spooky basement stairs—with offerings of hot chocolate and friendship. What she discovers at Ben’s dimly lit desk is an endearing, complicated man who always expresses exactly what he wants.
Or would, if not for the constant interruptions that keep him from touching her.
When an unexpected snowstorm traps the potential lovebirds in the library overnight, Poppy and Ben finally have a chance to explore the energy that crackles between them.
Is it just epic sex? Or is it love in the stacks?
Even though I’m happily wallowing in Halloween-themed romances, given my general love for the Dirty Bits line and romances featuring librarians, I happily snatched this Christmas novella up. There’s a Christmas party, complete with one of those annoying gift games, ugly Christmas sweaters, and then, as the piece de resistance, the main couple gets snowed in at the library. I’m such a sucker for library sex – don’t ask me why, thinking about people actually getting it on IRL at the library is pretty squicky.
For an erotic Christmas novella, the character development is decent. Poppy’s determined to hit on the hot but awkward new librarian who’s been holing himself up in the basement, so she brings him hot chocolate. Which, naturally, she spills all over the place, so naturally she has to take off her Christmas sweater. There’s definitely chemistry between her and Ben, but she can’t quite figure out if he’s in to her or not.
Ben’s not neurotypical, and one of the ways it shows up is that he doesn’t pick up on non-verbal cues. That misunderstanding provides a lot of the main stress on the relationship. Poppy’s confused by what she sees as mixed signals – he kisses her, but then scowls at her and refuses to talk to her. Once Ben explains, though, what follows is some pretty thoughtful (and sexy) verbal communication. The sex scenes are super hot and work well in the storyline.
I’m honestly not sure how I feel about Ben’s inability to understand non-verbal cues as the main impediment to the relationship. I liked seeing a neurodivergent hero, and I thought it did a good job showing how he cared for Poppy – for instance, buying her a tire gauge as a Christmas present when he noticed that her tires needed air. There is some anti-neurodivergent language – the other librarians refer to Benjamin as the troll since he prefers spending time in his basement office – and Poppy calls them on it, but it still felt pretty icky.
Overall, I did enjoy this, though I still have reservations about Ben’s representation. I’ll be looking up the other novellas in this author’s series for sure.