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It’s Lovely Weather For A Sleigh Ride Together With You

Merry receives a Christmas miracle when she gets an unexpected second chance at happiness in Manda Collin’s novella, With This Christmas Ring.

It’s Lovely Weather For A Sleigh Ride Together With You

Welcome to our Holiday Romance series! Try as I might to resist, every December I find myself picking up a book or two (or three) that combines two things I love most: Christmas and romance. Over the next month we’re going to check out some of the cheesiest books published, and it will be glorious. As there is a severe shortage of YA-focused holiday books, these will all be of the adult variety. So grab yourself a glass of spiked eggnog (or two) and turn the fire up to “crackling.”

BOOK REPORT for With This Christmas Ring by Manda Collins

Deck The Halls: Private Party
Naughty or Nice List: So Nice It’s Naughty, Nice
Melt My Marshmallows: Utterly Melted
On A Scale from The Grinch to Buddy The Elf: Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

Deck The Halls: Private Party

Looks like Viscount Wrotham has a special Christmas package hidden away in the parlor for Merry to unwrap privately after everyone else had gone to bed. Or maybe he’s just the kind of rich person who has a full-sized Christmas tree in his boudoir. I don’t know his life.

What’s Going On In Santa’s Workshop:

Merry hasn’t seen Alex, Viscount of Wrotham, since she unceremoniously broke their engagement five years ago on the advice of his evil grandmother. But on this chilly December day, she has no choice but to go a-knocking on his front door, because her BFF, Charlotte, just had a baby by Alex’s cousin and didn’t live through childbirth. With her last breath she asked Merry to find her missing husband and have him raise their little girl.

Alex was heartbroken when Merry up and left with just a note years ago, and he’s completely shocked to find her on his doorstep, though, thank God, that is not her baby. He knows exactly where his cousin is: already at The Keep, his ancestral home in the country, where his extended family is gathering for Christmas. He invites Merry to join them so she can deliver little Lottie to her father, and there’s no way he’s doing a snow dance behind her back, hoping she’ll have to stay through the holiday. No way at all…

Naughty or Nice List: So Nice It’s Naughty, Nice

Stop the presses! Put down your phones and give me your full attention because this. Is. News! Could it be—a male protagonist in a Regency era novel who isn’t a total dick with prick inadequacies? Alex seems to benefit from recently reconnecting with his runaway mother and also from just, ya know, being a decent person. He’s decided to push back on his jerk of a grandma; he got his cousin clean and sober; he wants to win Merry back, but not in, like, a gross manly way, but in a "she’s the love of my life and if she wants me too, then cool" way. Merry, honey, don’t resist. You won’t get this chance a third time. *fans self*

Although there’s one small Alex moment where I take umbrage:

“He stopped her mouth with a kiss. “We’ll have a lifetime for you to school me in grammar, Miss Parks. We are celebrating now. There’s no need for grammar.”

(Just like Jell-O, there’s always room for grammar, Alex.)

For her part, Merry had a Jane Austen character vibe-thing going on—in fact, the setup to her broken engagement with Alex tangentially reminded me of Persuasion. I liked her pluck and willingness to follow through on a promise to a dying friend, even when it caused her emotional turmoil. She also wasn’t willing to put her happiness with Alex above his relationship with his family, which shows she’s pretty selfless; perfect for a Christmastime protagonist.

Melt My Marshmallows: Utterly Melted

These two had just the right amount of intensely longing looks and sexy bits without being obnoxious. Since this was a novella that wasn’t thinly disguised as porn, we were only treated to one special hug moment, but it was plenty steamy without devolving into a lurid description of the mechanics of sexytime. I did love this moment near the beginning, while they were disrobing, and it’s been years since they’ve been in that position:

“Merry flushed under his gaze. “I hope you are pleased,” she said softly, though her nose tipped up a little with pride. “And if you aren’t...”

He kissed her before she could finish the sentence. “You are beautiful, and perfect,” he said against her mouth.”

Damn right she is, Viscount Wrotham.

We Got (Christmas) Spirit, Yes We Do!:

I’m pretty sure all Christmas romances need to be novella length. It’s the perfect amount of time to get to know the characters without making them too repetitive, as said characters rarely have super complicated problems that can’t be fixed by a snuggle by the fire or hot mug of wassail. Christmas—or, rather, winter, but we’ll take what we can get—played a large part in the book by trapping Merry at the Wrotham family home for the holiday. It also gathered up characters that normally wouldn’t have been there, like Alex’s gossipy cousin. I was definitely in the mood to go on a sleigh ride.

Mistletropes:

I forgot to mention this trope in my last review, but Christmas-y names should certainly be taken into consideration (in the previous book the MC’s last name was Frost, this one is Merry). We’ve also got the classic snowed-in so you have to hang out with us, awkward family dinners, sleigh rides, giving to the poor, a Christmas engagement, surprising someone with a person for a present, and babies are apparently especially important during the holidays (I guess because Baby Jesus?). 

On A Scale from The Grinch to Buddy The Elf: Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer

Alex's family didn't want to let Merry join in on any of their rich people games, but she proved to be just what they needed and certainly gave Alex a Christmas he wouldn't soon forget. 

FTC Full Disclosure: I received my free review copy from Swerve. I received neither money nor peanut butter cups in exchange for this review. With This Christmas Ring is available now.

Stephanie Johnston's photo About the Author: Stephanie is an avid reader who moonlights as a college Educational Advisor. Though she now calls Orlando home, she grew up all over the U.S. Aside from her obsession with YA books and book-related activities, Stephanie loves watching way too much television, reading organizational/DIY blogs, planning awesome parties, Halloween decorating, and playing live-action escape games.