Kristin Hardy – "Her Christmas Surprise"

15 Feb

GENRE: Romance / Contemporary
PUBLISHED: Silhouette Special Edition, 2007

WHY THIS NOVEL: I liked the first novel I read by Hardy, Always a Bridesmaid, and this one has one of my “hooks.”

The back blurb:
“For Keely Stafford this holiday season already left something to be desired. First, she’d caught Bradley Alexander, her now ex-fiancé, in the act with another woman. Then he – and millions of dollars – had gone missing, and the police thought she was involved. Talk about a blue Christmas! She needed help, and she was about to get it – from a most unlikely, if rivetingly handsome, source …
Lex Alexander, black-sheep brother of said ex-fiancé. He’d left home at eighteen and had returned only to get his family fortune back. It looked like lovely, fragile Keele Stafford was the key to everything he was looking for. And money was just the beginning …”

Her Christmas Surprise worked for me because of its main characters. It’s the way they behave. For example, near the end, after Keely and Lex broke off their relationship because of their completely different lifes (she’s an accountant, he’s a photographer who works, and loves to work, all over the world), Keely faces a similar situation than Lex did then (she thinks about moving back to her home town) and for that she understands Lex better. Of course, they end up together but it’s more believable because of Keely’s experience. Also, it’s not marriage, 3 kids and a picket fence at the end, but it’s a commitment and a wish to give their love a chance and try it. Which is fine with me and which is what I would expect “real” people to do, not blithely ignoring all and getting married because it’s a romance novel. Anyway, that’s why these characters work for me.

Compared to that, the main plot, what brings both Lex and Keely back to their home town, is “missing urgency.” Keely’s name, like the name of Lex’s and Bradley’s mother, is listed on the boards of directors of several fraud corporations. She’s considered a suspect and faces serious legal ramifications if she can’t prove her innocence. But for the most part of the story, this isn’t mentioned which IMO weakens this plot line. There’s some missed potential for suspense there but it also helps to keep the focus on the romance. Also, the way the villain, Keely’s ex-fiancé Bradley, was shown was too one-dimensional villainous to not make me question Keely being his girlfriend, and then fiancé, for several years. Maybe getting a bit more about the reasons for his behaviour would have helped here.

I thought the way Keely and Lex go about finding evidence to prove her and his mother’s innocence believable. Throughout the story, Hardy left little clues to things which might be important and Keely and Lex discover them one after the other and sometimes later than when it was first mentioned. There’s no out-of-the-blue, ups-we-found-it revelation/solution. I liked that.

All in all, I liked Her Christmas Surprise. It’s a nice story with nice and believable characters where the focus is on the romance despite what you might expect from its premise.

Would I recommend this novel? Yes.

Would I read this novel again? Probably yes.

Grade: 4 / 5


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