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Book CoverLynneC’s review of On The First Night Of Christmas by Heidi Rice
Contemporary Romance published by Harlequin Presents 29 Nov 11

I don’t do many seasonal reads, just a few, and this offering looked like a fun one. It didn’t disappoint. In an England being blown into the sea by gale force winds, this was just the book to sit indoors and cuddle up with a kitty and a fire. Nothing earth shattering, just well written and fun.

Heidi Rice is a “solid” write with excellent style, engaging characters and believable situations. She rarely gets the fuss that some Harlequin writers do, because she produces well-written books in time and on point. Because she is so good at writing the category romance, it’s easy to overlook her. You read the book, smile when you put it down, and then get on with your life. That’s what Harlequin is, at base, all about, and it’s one of the reasons the genre gets such an unfair battering from time to time.

Cassie is walking to the Tube in London when a car splashes her. She is annoyed enough to rip open the passenger door and yell at the driver, until she recognises him as someone she went to school with. Jace the Ace he was called then. Now he’s Jason Ryan, millionaire and New York resident, in London to conclude a deal on the company he made his name with.

The professional backgrounds of the two protagonists are lightly drawn and not very convincing, but the story isn’t about that, so pushing their careers into the background seems appropriate for such a feel-good book. It did add to the fairytale feel of the whole story.

Cassie was too young to date Jace at school, but she isn’t now. Jace comes from the regulation broken home, but one of the things I like about this story is that Jace doesn’t get the immediate cure from his instinctive recoil from anything involving revealing his feelings. There is a nice epilogue that copes with that.
Jace takes Cassie back to his hotel, and they are into each other like anybody’s business. The sex in this book is great, hot and believable and a touch wild, but still vanilla m/f. Far from bland, though.

Rice sets out two main problems for Jace and Cassie and spends the story exploring them. Jace lives in New York and Cassie lives in London. However, her career, as some kind of illustrator (told you the descriptions were vague!), isn’t too much of an impediment. Jace’s inability to get involved is a problem, and instead of walking all over her and then grovelling, Cassie helps him come to terms with his feelings. There is a very nice grovel scene, though, when the inevitable black moment is reached and passed.

Cassie has relationship issues, having dated two low-lifes in the past and even been engaged to one. There is a lot of the naïve to Cassie, although she claims to have gone to an inner London high school, a place where it’s very difficult to remain that naïve, but as I, said, Christmas fairy story.

The two set out to enjoy London in the festive season. Jace doesn’t do Christmas, but he’s not exactly a Scrooge. He just doesn’t do it. Cassie makes him, and even shows him that you can do Christmas shopping in Oxford Street in an hour, if you plan properly. That’s almost one fairytale too far for me, having scrambled through Selfridges and other shops just before Christmas, as queuing to pay can take that long, but okay, yes, you can just about do it. Though as an inveterate shopper/browser, it sounds a bit pointless to me!

The story flows well and is an effortless read, exactly what you need at this time of the year. Definitely a great read to get you in the mood when you take a break from wrapping presents!

LynneCs iconGrade: B


Cassie’s tips for the Perfect Christmas Fling!

1. ‘Tis the season to be daring: Find the perfect Mr. Right Now (extra points for a bad-boy-turned-billionaire) and be brave about getting him—even if that means jumping straight into sexy Jace Ryan’s car!

2. Enjoy the ride: Once you’ve chosen your man, get swept away by the moment! For once, Cassie’s determined to stop worrying about the future, but she must remember one thing…

3. This fling is just for Christmas: Jace Ryan’s a seasonal special. Do not start falling for him, Cassie, no matter how perfect the package or how much you’ve enjoyed unwrapping it.…

Read an excerpt.