Holiday Sparks (by Shannon Stacey)

He gave her a slow but somehow very naughty smile.  "Only very bad girls lie to their mothers."
She was in so much trouble.

Holiday Sparks (by Shannon Stacey)
Conflict: (???) I mean, there isn't really a TRUE conflict (or at least one that would cause any distress).  They like each other, but they're both too scared to take it beyond just "hooking-up".  Extremely realistic conflict that many readers could appreciate.  He (Scott) works/lives in Maine, and she (Chloe) works/lives in Boston.  They decide to have a Christmas Fling for three weeks (Fa la la la la!) but then they actually fall completely in-love with each other, so the "long-distance issue" begins to plague their minds...

The Happily Ever After falls into place perfectly!  And not in a fake deus-ex-machina sort of way, but more like when you're playing Tetris, and you get that super-long rectangle piece after stacking up your wall seven rows deep... When it finally hits, you're like, "Yes!  I was waiting for that!"  It's so realistic and satisfying.  No secret baby.  No amnesia.  No jerkface villains.  Just two people reconnecting and falling in love during the holidays.  Sparks fly throughout the pages!

Why do I empathize with this heroine:  Because she falls in love with the guy who was the dork in high school (who turns into a major hot stud, but he's still an "Average Guy" with a good blue collar job and a lovable German Shepherd dog named Kojak).  I like that Chloe willingly decides to choose happiness and love over the Metropolitan lifestyle (mainly the ability to order Crab Rangoon at 3 a.m.).  And she's a freelance designer, so physical location inside the city isn't an issue if she can work remotely... from Scott's bed.  Plus, she is honest with herself and decides to profess her love to Scott - at the same time he decides to profess his love to her.  No manipulative games, no selfishness, and no whining.  She's an all-around great heroine.

Overall:  It's on my keeper shelf.  Not just a holiday read, but really, it's versatile enough for all-seasons.  The story is so cute, I found myself grinning like an idiot quite a bit, and I can see why this holiday novella is well-praised.  This would be a perfect recommendation for any romance fan - and I'll go as far to say that this could also convert non-romance fans (who ask you for romance recommendations) because the characters/flirting/feelings are that realistic.  This can easily be polished off in a day (or even half a day if you're a quick reader).

Things I LOVED:
  • Perfect page count (quick read!)
  • Perfect amount of characters
  • Perfect characters
  • revisiting the awkwardness of high school  (ack!!)
  • Kojak
  • All the diner scenes
  • The scene where they both admit this is more than just a fling...

NOTE:  I'm counting this as book 3 for the Holiday Reading Challenge 2012, since it's during the Christmas season, but like I mentioned, it can be read at any time of the year.

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