Twelve Dates of Christmas by Laurel Greer Sutter Creek, Montana #7 Luke and Emma have known one another for years. They lived in a small town, they went to school together, they knew a lot about one another but never were really friends as they were so different one from the other. When this story begins, they are again at loggerheads because Emma wants to buy Luke’s grandfather’s business and her vision for the lodge is opposite of Luke’s. With a big Winter festival to get through, grandfather getting over pneumonia, and Luke busy with his fulltime job, Emma offers to help out. The story deals with the two getting to know one another as adults, leaving behind some preconceived notions formed in the past, and coming to terms with what would truly be best for the lodge and for the two of them as individuals. The ideas for 12 days/dates of Christmas activities were interesting and provided opportunity for the two to spend time together and see one another in both a positive and not so positive light. In the end, both Emma and Luke grew as people as they grew together. The plot was fairly simple, straightforward, without a huge break-up event, and had a nice holiday feel. It is not my favorite romance but it is a solid little story and will please many. Thank you to NetGalley and HQN – Special Edition for the ARC – This is my honest review. 3-4 Stars
4.5 stars — Well that was a delightfully cute and sexy Christmas read. We got a bit of an enemies to lovers feel, but the kind that I like where they just push and pull against each other, but part of it stems from their attraction, and the fighting doesn’t last. You know, enemies light. Rounded down instead of up simply because it was a bit hard watching how long it took Emma to figure out compromise, and then how long it took her to understand he was compromising back. Luke was a much more vulnerable character than I was expecting, and I kind of adored that. Especially since it didn’t take away from his ruggedness at all, it just showed how men can be just as multifaceted. Something that’s sometimes missing from Harlequins. I ached for all the wrong lessons he learned in his life, and the conclusion that he came to that he would only let people down. And I loved the way he saw the differences in his relationship with Emma, and kept wanting to fight for it despite those lessons. I also appreciated that he wasn’t overly embarrassed by his dyslexia, and would seek out help when he needed it. Emma had her own damage to contend with, and I appreciated that while it wasn’t dramatic, it had just as big an impact. Sometimes the smallest things in our interactions with our loved ones can have the greatest impact, and usually completely unintentionally. I grew frustrated with her at times with how one track her mind could be. But I also loved how genuinely she cared about the people around her, and how earnestly she wanted to help and contribute…and just be *seen*. I was totally expecting the same old fight over the attraction that happens in so many romance novels, but I feel like theirs kept the balance just right — fighting because of different wants, but not fighting it so much that I grew frustrated with them. Instead we got to see them go through the different stages, and kind of grow together. And I appreciated that their steamy times were very healthy. On that note: this author always knows how to push the envelope of convention in the BEST WAYS. I feel like romance authors follow the same thoughts all the time, and might not understand the harm. There was a moment in the steamy scene where Luke said he wanted to see “how wet she was”, and she admitted that her body doesn’t work that way, and they got out the lube, and there was no shame, and it all proceeded in a healthy way, and I legitimately wanted to stand up and applaud. Because heck yeah, women are different, and that’s totally cool! Lots of great secondary characters in the cast of the town. I loved seeing what were clearly previous stories (which I now must check out), and the groundwork for future stories that I must now wait for. Wow. Apparently I had a lot to say. That’s unusual, especially for a Harlequin. What can I say, it delighted me.