Beauty and the Beast seems very popular with romance authors looking to use a classic fairy tale as the jumping off point for their own story. It’s by no means my favourite adaptation for the trope, especially given that there usually has to be some sort of improbable event to bring the heroine into the hero’s environs; however, it’s the Festive Season, and I was swayed by the dog on the cover art.
Librarian Izzy Simon signed up with a temp agency to earn some extra cash while on leave from her regular job, her main motivation being the high fees charged by her grandmother’s preferred retirement home. Izzy was abandoned by her mother as a baby, and Gram is her only family, so she wants to do right by the old lady, even if it means the choice between landing herself in debt and having an actual holiday. Her first assignment is to act as PA to an author of children’s books while his regular staff take a break: something no one has thought to tell the author in question.
Derek Croft – the author in question – and I have lots of issues with how his career is portrayed as well – has been looking forward to a quiet couple of weeks in which to finish his latest book, free from disturbance by his staff. Since he seems quite capable of cooking for himself and operating household appliances, this doesn’t seem a big ask, and yet the staff have banded together and hired Izzy against Derek’s wishes.
When Izzy shows up, Derek tries to send her away, but she sticks around: long enough for him to be contacted by his interfering stepmother, who wants to drop round for Christmas with Derek’s father – and also with the latest prospective partner she’s trying to set him up with. Impulsively, Derek claims that Izzy is his girlfriend and then offers her extra money if she’ll go along with the deception. Izzy agrees, because she really needs the cash, and sets about making Derek’s home more Christmas-like.
At this point, Izzy becomes even more annoying, getting Derek and his dog into unsafe situations and generally interfering where she’s not needed. I felt very sorry for Derek – and his dog – but obviously he’s as lacking in common sense as Izzy, because he out and out falls for her. Meanwhile, Izzy is curious over what happened in Derek’s childhood to cause his mother to walk out on his father and just digs herself even deeper into the whole damn mess.
Sadly the mess gets resolved eventually, and there’s a really saccharine ending that is probably best avoided by any reader who thinks that Derek’s dog has more sense than the rest of them put together. Not exactly an inspiring debut from this author.
When quiet, bookish Izzy Simon accepts a two-week assignment as an assistant for an author of children’s books, it seems like the perfect way for her to make some much-needed extra money, but the grumpy author claims he doesn’t want or need her services. He might be as handsome as a storybook prince, but his prickly personality and resistance to all things Christmas are sure to make for a chilly holiday season.
Derek Croft never agreed to the cheery temp his staff arranges for him while they’re on vacation. Izzy is his polar opposite, but Derek soon realizes she could be the perfect solution to his interfering family…if he can get her to agree to pretend to be his live-in girlfriend. Before long Izzy’s sweet disposition and unflappable optimism has him decorating a tree and looking forward to late night hot cocoa, but he’s all too aware their time together can’t last.
Read an excerpt.