Review: His Holiday Crush – Cari Z.
by Cari Z.
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Publication Date: December 14, 2020
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:
Workaholic attorney Max Robertson is one meeting away from making partner at a big NYC firm when his best friend calls and guilts him into coming back home for Christmas. But there’s a reason he hasn’t been back to Edgewood for a decade—too many bad memories. The plan was to go for just one night, until a wild deer and a snow bank wrecked everything.
Former Army Sergeant Dominic “Nicky” Bell is the new guy on the Edgewood police force, so of course he drew the short straw and is stuck working the night shift. But his evening gets turned upside-down when he gets called out to a wreck in the snow—and it’s his one and only high school crush, looking even sexier than he did back then.
When they both end up stranded together at Dominic’s house, sparks start to fly and Max isn’t sure what to do. But everyone deserves a present this holiday season, right?
Content warnings: View Spoiler »car accident (due to weather, no bad injuries), alcoholism (MC has alcoholic father), drunk driving accident that resulted in a fatality (before book starts), estranged parent, PTSD (flashbacks on-page), animal death (off-page, before book starts), wartime combat (off-page, before book starts), police officer MC, mental illness (side character) « Hide Spoiler
I thought the cover of this book was adorable, so naturally I requested an ARC of it – look, I’m a little shallow, ok? I’m glad I did, because this is a feel-good holiday story, the sibling’s-best-friend-trope equivalent of a cup of hot cocoa.
Despite last minute work for landing a client that’ll finally get him to make partner at his NYC law firm, Max gets guilt-tripped into visiting his recently divorced best friend, Hal, and his daughters for Christmas in the small town they grew up in. He only intends to stay for a day or so, but a snow bank – and a hot police officer – cause a change of plans. Dominic, Hal’s younger brother, had a crush on Max back in high school, and seeing him again – after rescuing him from that snow bank – only rekindles those feelings. But Max has avoided his hometown for very good reasons, and he has no plans on staying. Will a Christmas fling leave them both broken-hearted, or is this instead a little bit of Christmas magic?
“Hal was my best friend, a huge part of my past and hopefully a huge part of my future, and he and the girls undoubtedly needed all the support they could get right now. But was I considering the idea because of them or because of recent developments involving a gorgeous man and orgasms?”
Both main characters had their own reasons for avoiding a relationship. Dominic’s an army vet and a small-town cop, and neither career has really lent itself to him having a real relationship. Max is a complete workaholic, but once he arrives back in town, he morphs into a much happier person, happily building a snow family with the girls and making commemorative raccoon sandwiches for Dominic (after they have to scare a family of raccoons out of Dominic’s construction-zone-aka-house). They initially bond over helping take care of Hal’s girls, through making grilled cheese sandwiches and snowmen families. But there’s a definite spark between them, and once they start exploring that, it changes the dynamics between them and makes Max start wondering if there’s more to life than making partner. While this is a best friend’s sibling trope book, Hal fully encourages the relationship, which I appreciated. Hal and the girls were fun side characters, and I enjoyed seeing how both main characters interacted with them.
As for cons, I wasn’t crazy over how they talked about Hal’s ex-wife or how she figured into the bleak moment. At one point, a character mentions off-hand that she was struggling with depression, but the book never really explores that. I’m not saying that negates the fact that she up and left her kids, but as a mom who struggles with her own mental health, I felt a lot more compassion for her than any of the other characters seemed to. Continuing with the family theme, I did like how Max’s relationship with his father was handled and that there was no magic reconciliation. Max had very valid reasons for being reluctant to come back home, mostly due to his father, and I thought they were thoughtfully explored. Dominic’s half of the story, however, seemed to suffer in comparison.
I’d give this 3.5 stars, rounded up to 4 because I’m a complete sucker for holiday novels.