Jolie Duval is a journalist who, instead of spending the holidays with her family, has decided to celebrate Christmas at a remote Montana ranch. There she meets hunky handyman Thaddeus Knight and she gets a hankering to unwrap him for holidays.
A pretty standard set-up, so where does it go wrong? Thad gets off on the wrong foot right away when, after driving for an hour in terrible conditions, Jolie arrives at the ranch to be greeted by his three dogs. Dogs that go running up to strangers and proceed to jump all over them (one of the dogs is named “Humper” so that should give you an idea). Jolie is terrified of dogs (we find out later she was bit by one as a child) and that’s enough for Thad to jump to all sorts of conclusions.
Four things tipped him off to her city-girl status. Her designer clothes, her designer bag, her ridiculous footwear and her fear of animals.
OK. Look. First off - lots of folks don’t care for dogs. Especially dogs that jackass heroes fail to train properly. Also living in the city does not equate to “fear of animals.” Lots of folks who live in urban areas have pets. Heck, I’ve lived in urban areas where people are allowed to keep their own dang chickens. And what, people who live in rural areas can’t wear designer clothes? Hello?! Online shopping, anyone?!?!
Then there’s Jolie - who is the sort of brain-dead ninny who spies a hot tub at the ranch, a hot tub that is not private and in a public area and even though she didn’t pack a swimsuit hey, why not just strip down nekkid and hop right in. I mean, seriously Wendy - how else do you expect the hero to spy her hot nekkid-ness and go all warm for her form? /end sarcasm.
Then there’s the small matter of why Jolie is spending the holidays by herself, which was enough for me to roll my eyes so far back in my head I think they got stuck like that for about 5 minutes:
As theirs was an atheist household, Jolie’s parents did not approve of using the word Christmas. Instead they called it “the holiday,” “the twenty-fifth” - anything but “Christmas.”
Since the heroine doesn't want to spend time with them, and their atheism is specifically called out as the reason "why" - what does this imply, exactly? That somehow not believing in some way makes you an "undesirable" person whose own daughter doesn't want to be around you. Seriously. This is romance. This is the best reason the author could come up with? What happened to the old stand-by of Mom is judgemental and keeps pressuring the heroine to get married and pop out grandbabies?
Which brings us to the moment when Jolie begins her “real Christmas” adventures. Does she crack open a Bible? Does she find out where the nearest church is? No. Her, Thad, and the other guests go out to cut down a Christmas tree. Because, you know, Christmas trees featuring so prominently in the story of Jesus’s birth. Right after Mary laid that baby in the manger her and Joseph started stringing up tinsel in the animal stalls. (Grab your hip boots folks, the sarcasm is getting deep around here!).
And that was enough for me. I disliked Thad, his stupid assumptions and his dumb-as-bricks untrained dogs. I hated the assumption that unless you’re Christian that somehow the holiday season can have zero meaning to a person. My Kindle overfloweth so...
Final Grade = DNF