Friday, 25 December 2015

'Christmas Ever After', by Sarah Morgan

Title: Christmas Ever After (Puffin Island #3)
Author(s): Sarah Morgan
Release Date: October 2015
Publisher: Harlequin
Genre: Romance
Source: Publisher

Synopsis:
Skylar Tempest has never understood Alec Hunter's appeal. So what if he's a world-renowned historian? He's also cynical, aloof and determined to think the worst of her. So when a twist of fate finds her spending the lead-up to Christmas with Alec and his family, she's not expecting the season to be either merry or bright.

Alec has learned the hard way not to trust beautiful women—and Skylar is the most beautiful woman he's ever seen. But as he watches her throw herself into his family's festive chaos, Alec realises there is far more to this blonde bombshell than meets the eye.

With Christmas around the corner, Alec and Skylar return to Puffin Island, a tentative bond forged between them. Neither intends to fall in love, but as the nights become darker, and the fire between them grows hotter, could this be the chance for Alec and Skylar to find their own happy ending?

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This is a book that has arisen a lot of mixed feelings in me. To the point where I wasn't exactly sure how to write a review of it, since even after a few days of having finished it I still don't know precisely to what side to tip the scales of my opinion.

First off, this is the third book in a series, and I have not read the previous two. As in most romance series, each book has a different main couple, so I thought that would not be an issue. However, the two main characters from this book, Alec and Skylar, seem to have previously met and interacted in the first two books, which made for a somewhat confusing read at first for me. That is not a fault with the book at all, it just meant that I wasn't as engaged with their relationship at first because I had no background information. If you decide to pick this book up, do please consider reading the other two first for a fuller understanding!

This book uses a trope that I have seen plenty of times before and while I don't dislike it per se, it always seems to follow the same path. Alec and Skylar can't stand each other since the day they met. He helps her in a tough situation and from there a different relationship starts developing between them, where they begin to realize their misconceptions about each other.

Here is a point that I wasn't completely fond of. They where barely friends before, having only been brought together by friends in common, so they don't really know each other. However, they have a very strong reaction of dislike for one another. I am not sure if the reasons for that dislike are explored in the previous novels so I can't discuss that here, but what can be seen here in 'Christmas Ever After' is that they have a lot of preconceived notions about each other, and judgements are built on top of them. For example, Alec thinks that all beautiful women are shallow and high maintenance, so he automatically assumes that Skylar is exactly the same and treats her as such. That is dealt with in the novel in a positive way which was a great plus, but initially it made it harder for me to sympathize with them as characters.

As you can predict from here, their relationship is one of hate-turned-friendship-turned-something-more. As I said before this trope is not something I am completely against from the start, but the transitions seemed a bit abrupt and not naturally developed. Especially towards the end, when after so much build up the conclusion felt rushed.

Even with these aspects pulling the brakes on my full appreciation of this book, I still very much enjoyed reading it. There are great traits in these characters that I loved and hope to see in more romance novels. Skylar is a self-sufficient, confident, 'takes-no-bullshit' woman and Alec reveals himself to be a caring, understanding and layered character. They won me over by the end of the book and I would definitely read more about them!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable book even if with some missed steps along the way. Give it a chance to fully blossom as you read it and it will be well worth your time!


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