Series: Heartbreaker Bay #2.5
Published by Avon on November 8, 2016
Genres: Christmas, Contemporary Romance, Holiday
It’s Christmas Eve and Rory Andrews is desperate to get home to the family she hasn’t seen in years. Problem is, her only ride to Lake Tahoe comes in the form of the annoyingly handsome Max Stranton, and his big, goofy, lovable dog Carl.
Hours stuck in a truck with the dead sexy Max sounds like a fate worse than death (not), but Rory’s out of options. She’s had a crush on Max since high school and she knows he’s attracted to her, too. But they have history… and Max is the only one who knows why it went south.
They’ve done a good job of ignoring their chemistry so far, but a long road trip in a massive blizzard might be just what they need to face their past… and one steamy, snowy night is all it takes to bring Max and Rory together at last.
I liked “One Snowy Night” mainly for its exploration of Rory’s backstory, which I’ve been wondering about since reading The Trouble With Mistletoe. Once they deal with the issue between them, Max is probably a good match for Rory, particularly because he admires her rather than pitying her. The relationship development felt rushed, though, both because this is a short novella and because it occurs over a mere 24 hours or so. I would have preferred a longer format, even though these two characters are peripheral; they aren’t part of the gang of friends who are the main focus of the Heartbreaker Bay series, but they both work for people in that group.
I see a running theme in this series: There’s some sort of connection between the hero and heroine that is rooted in the past, and only one of them knows what it is… and s/he isn’t telling. In this case, it’s Max who knows, and like Olivia in The Trouble With Mistletoe, he carries a bit of a grudge which he’ll have to let go of if he and Rory are to have anything beyond a superficial relationship. I had a little trouble understanding Max’s attraction to Rory at first, given his feelings about that past event. It seemed more rooted in physical attraction than actual liking, though thankfully that changed as he began to really see the person she has become. I think the transition might have worked better (not that it’s bad now) if the events in the novella were only the first part of a longer story, and the resolution of their relationship came later in that story.
The other thing I wish there had been more time for is Rory’s meeting with her family. Her feelings about going home are all tangled up, and there’s a lot of pain in her relationship with them. I felt like Rory’s meeting with (reconcilliation with) her family was even more rushed than the Rory-Max relationship, and didn’t really deal with the issues between her and her parents. Again, that could have been explored in more depth in a full-length book.
I’m not sure I’d put “One Snowy Night” on my holiday re-reads list, but I did enjoy it despite the inevitable compressions of the shorter format. As I’ve come to expect from Jill Shalvis, she balances humor and more serious situations well, and her characters feel real and believable. She’s also great at writing animals; Carl, Max’s big dog, is an absolute delight. The road-trip, snowy road setting will put you in the mood for a crackling fire and a cup of hot chocolate, so on the whole, “One Snowy Night” is a good choice if you’re looking for short-and-somewhat-spicy seasonal romance.
I would recommend “One Snowy Night” to people who are already reading the Heartbreaker Bay series, but it could be read as a standalone.
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: