Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Watch, This Will Go Straight To Her Head

Sybil and I chatted a couple of weeks ago, and sometime during the course of the phone conversation she mentioned, in passing, how much she enjoyed Dear Santa by Karen Templeton and had I read it? Karen is a semi-regular commenter on various online forums, and being as I'm always on the lookout for good category romances, I decided it was time to inaugurate my new Sony Reader.

I'm glad I did, and big-fat-wet-sloppy kisses (but not in a gay way) to Sybil for recommending this one. I really, really enjoyed it.

Grant Braeburn is the very definition of eligible bachelor. He has a great house in Greenwich, Connecticut and an insane amount of money thanks to his prowess at making sound financial investments. He's divorced from upwardly mobile lawyer Justine, but together they have a beautiful, almost-four-year-old daughter, Haley. Then on one of his weekends with Haley, he gets a call that Justine has died in a car accident. Grant goes into panic mode. How to break the news to his daughter? And while he's a passable father, he's not exactly close to the little girl thanks to his quiet, reserved nature. Now he has to raise Haley on his own and he is beyond terrified.

Desperate beyond words he reaches out to Mia Vaccaro, Justine's best friend. Mia used to work at the same law firm as Justine, until she decided to start her own party-planning business. A lot of people think she's a flake. I mean, who gives up a lucrative career at one of the most prestigious law firms in Manhattan to plan parties? Plus, she's not exactly Grant's biggest fan. She thinks he's a major cold fish. But she does love Haley, and if helping Grant become a better father helps that little girl, she'll do it. Little does she know that Grant is hiding a Big Secret, one that could rock her faith in her now deceased best friend.

Dear Santa is a perfect example of why I love the category romance format. Grant and Mia are both extremely likable characters and don't fall victim to cliche. It would have been so easy for Templeton to write Grant as the aloof, dour, emotionless bachelor stud, but that's not what she gives us. Grant isn't cold, he's just the sort of man who keeps his emotions in check. He doesn't do well with theatrics. A drama queen would probably damn near kill him. But that doesn't mean he's cold or unfeeling - it just means he doesn't put his baggage out on display. I don't know about you all, but I've known a number of men like this in my life. I think it stems from The Boys Don't Cry philosophy.

Mia is a smart girl, from a boisterous family, who just doesn't "get" Grant - at first anyway. But the more time she spends with him, she realizes that she has judged him poorly. And it doesn't help matters that she only saw Grant through Justine's eyes.

The Big Secret here packs a wallop. Readers know what it is almost immediately, and it's devastating enough that I was chomping at the bit for Templeton to reveal it to our heroine. The resulting fall-out doesn't disappoint.

I do have a couple of quibbles. I found some of the chapter transitions a bit abrupt at times. This can probably be chalked up to personal preference. The sexuality level in this story probably falls somewhere around PG, and the author fades to black a couple of times regarding love scenes. Now, I don't need hot, kinky sex in every book I read - but the sexual tension between Grant and Mia was so well done that these moments of the door slamming in my face were a tad disappointing. Hey, romance readers are nothing if not voyeuristic. Also, there were moments when I thought Haley sounded a little too mature for her age - but hey, what do I know? I don't have my own almost-four-year-old to compare her to and at least the precocious tot doesn't have a lisp. Thank God for small miracles.

Minor quibbles aside, I really enjoyed this story. And goody goody - it's the first book in a trilogy. Book two, Yours, Mine...or Ours? featuring Mia's former cop, single father brother is out now with book three, Baby, I'm Yours about another brother, this one a recovering drug addict, due out in the spring. Needless to say, book two is getting downloaded to the Sony Reader this weekend.

Final Grade = A-


  1. I just finished this, too, on Syb's rec. I loved it. I felt the same way you did, though I had issues with Mia. I think she was the weakest part of the story for me.

    Although I understood her reasons for feeling the way she did (i.e., the raw deal she got from her fiance, etc) I still felt her reaction to the "big secret" was just a bit over the top.

    I don't want to spoil it for anyone who might read these comments, but despite my issues with Mia (you'll be able to read more in my review) I truly enjoyed this story.

  2. Holly: I see your point, and agree to a certain extent. I think it wasn't an issue for me because Templeton doesn't drag it out. Mia's meltdown is pretty much confined to one chapter. Now if it had been the whole second half the book? Then it wouldn't have worked nearly as well for me.

    I think "shooting the messenger" is a pretty common occurrence in Real Life, so for me, it worked well within the context of this story.

  3. Yep that sybil rocks. I think everyone should always listen to her.

    :) and I am linking your review to hollys.

    I liked Mia and can understand to a point. I mean that was her BFF and in the divorce well.. you could tell how the evol ex was. I think I would have coughed up at the begining.

    But that just the kind of chick I am. I could buy the reaction though and like Wendy said it was short enough for me to deal.

    I just sooo adored this book and the next is just as fab! Sez Me.

  4. Well, if Syb sez. LOL

    I agree the way it was presented (her finding out, reacting, then dealing with it) made it easier for me to accept. And it certainly didn't detract from the overall storyline or my enjoyment of it, but it was one thing that set me back a bit.

    I also mentioned the way Haley acted, because it just didn't seem quite right to me. But taking into consideration her recent loss and her inability to understand the reasoning behind it, I was able to get past it.

  5. Another one added to the tbb...

  6. Oh, dear. Big Secret and plot that sounds interesting vs. fade to black . . .

    I'm interested enough to give it a try. Thanks for the review.

  7. Weeeeeeellllllllll alyssa,

    I rec'ed the book you know. And I HATE slammed doors. Really it wasn't a kiss, kiss, shut door fade to black....

    Or I would be all sorts of shades of pissy. Could there have been more, sure, but it fits with the style of the author and the plot. Because the whole 4 year old thing...

    Love to hear what you think of it if you read it. I highly recommend it *g*

  8. Yeah, I probably didn't explain it that well....

    Re: Love Scenes - This isn't "just a peck on the lips" then fade to black. There are sexual acts performed, just not in great detail. The reader knows what they're doing, we just don't get the play-by-play.

    I read all over the map. I like books with kinky, hawt sex and I like books with NO sex. I only found the PG-sex a little disappointing in this instance because I thought the author did a wonderful job building the sexual tension. And when I read good sexual tension, I want the play-by-play....

    Completely an instance of personal preference more so than a legit criticism.


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