|Lisa Plumley's latest holiday novel delivers. Holiday Affair has everything a woman would want out of the holiday season. It has warm gooey holiday moments complete with happy children, Christmas traditions such as caroling and decorating Christmas cookies and, oh yeah, hot and steamy romance.
Karina Barrett is a recent divorcee who is trying to give her children the best Christmas
she can on her own. Her husband jumped ship to have the mother of all mid-life crises
which included shacking up with a woman in her early twenties, wearing skinny jeans
and eyeliner, and generally acting like a teenager.
Determined to give her children the ideal Christmas, Karina's prayers are answered
when her sister asks her to take her place as an anonymous evaluator for Edgeware,
a hotel franchising company Karina's sister works for. In return for secretly evaluating
the inn and seeing if it is fit to franchise, Karina gets an all expenses paid vacation to
Kismet, Michigan, a quaint town which boasts a Christmas-themed bed and breakfast
called The Christmas House.
Reid Sullivan is a super-dreamy, globe-trotting divorced father of two who makes a
living as an adventurer for hire. He's conquered the Outback, the Arctic, and pretty
much everywhere else. With his two girls in tow, he is nomadic and likes it that way.
However, his wayward life is put on hold when he receives a call from his grandparents
asking him to come home to Kismet to deal with a mysterious 'emergency.'
Once home, he discovers that his grandparents are trying to sell the family business,
The Christmas House. They're going away for Christmas so that they don't become
sentimental and cancel the sale. They want Reid to take over running the inn for the
season, as he is the most unsentimental person they know. Reid begrudgingly agrees
and gets to work trying to run an inn that is all about the Christmas spirit, which he
knows nothing about anymore.
Steeling himself for what he perceives as the most grueling Christmas ever, he is
pleasantly surprised when he meets one of his guests, the sexy Karina Barrett.
The two immediately hit it off and things go from zero to steamy quite quickly.
However, a kink is thrown into Karina's plans to have a wild holiday affair once she finds
out that Reid is in charge of the inn and not a guest like she had thought. Could she
really give a fair evaluation while she's sleeping with the man running the inn? Or is the
potential for love and steamy holiday sex more important?
I really liked Holiday Affair. Set against the backdrop of a winter wonderland
like Kismet, the story invokes that lovely warm fuzzy holiday feeling, which is impressive
since I read this novel in September.
The Christmas House is lovingly crafted and sounds like heaven on earth for the
diehard holiday crowd. Complete with a horse-drawn sleigh, fluffy Michigan snow,
lights, garland, tinsel, baking, eggnog, Christmas trees, carols, and one sweater-
wearing Daschund named Digby, The Christmas House has it all, including romance.
I found both Karina and Reid to be very well crafted. Reid's stubbornness and Scrooge-
like tendencies are fun to watch get melted away by the wonders of the season, and
Karina's determination to work through her own feelings of inadequacy and to give her
children the best Christmas ever is endearing.
All of the Sullivan and Barrett children are solid, each with a very distinct personality
and each with their own hang-ups and issues. The children do, however, play a very
minor role for a good chunk of the novel as they are more or less banished to the
basement 'Fun Zone' at The Christmas House, giving Karina and Reid some time to
themselves. The occasional sentence is dropped in about them caring for their children
and spending quality time, but little of that quality time is actually shown. To be fair,
when the children are brought to the forefront of the story, they shine, as do their
parents. There are a few rather touching scenes peppered in amongst the courtship of
Karina and Reid. It's really sweet watching Karina and Reid help their children and each
other's children work through the pain of a divorce, the struggles of puberty and life as a
Loaded with fun pop-culture references (If I could give out bonus stars, Plumley would
get one for having Nathan Fillion as Karina's 'television boyfriend.') and witty dialogue,
Holiday Affair delivers on entertainment.
All in all, I would highly recommend this holiday gem to anyone who wants a dose of the
warm-fuzzy Christmas feelings.
(Warning: Book should be accompanied by hot cocoa, a plate of gingerbread or
shortbread cookies and a polar fleece blanket in front of a roaring fire for maximum