Big Star, Small-town ChristmasI read a few reviews after reading this novella and there seems to be a bias against it because there's a question of cheating involved in the plot, but in my opinion this is a great example of "read the book and make up your own mind."
Country singer Riley Jensen would never have returned to her small Missouri hometown if her publicist hadn’t come up with the scheme to tape a Christmas special there. So she never would have known that the man who broke her heart at eighteen—causing her to flee to Nashville—was now a widower with a seven-year-old daughter. Riley has ten years of angst-filled hit songs and Grammy awards to prove she doesn’t need Ethan Kent. But suddenly, she can’t help thinking of all she gave up by running away…
Ethan Kent knew Riley had the talent and the drive to make it as a singer. He also knew she wasn’t going anywhere if she stayed in their nowhere town for him. Then one night and one huge mistake sent her running on the road to fame. Which doesn’t mean he ever stopped loving her…
But with so much separating them, can Riley and Ethan find their way back together one magical country Christmas?
Riley and Ethan were high school sweethearts. Broken hearted, Riley ran away to Nashville the day after she found Ethan in bed with her best friend Amanda. Riley's songs about betrayal and broken hearts garnered her fame and fortune. Ten years later, the famous country singer is reluctantly returning home to tape a television special, and the last person she wants to see is Ethan. Riley finds an Ethan who is a fantastic single father and takes his share of the responsibility for what happened that night long ago. Ethan never stopped loving Riley and knowing she fulfilled her potential is satisfying, but he doesn't expect understanding or forgiveness and knows that seeing her again is not a good idea.
Throughout this novella, Jaci Burton utilizes Ethan's adorable daughter, his family, and people from her hometown to bring Riley back into the fold and to set up a small town holiday atmosphere. More importantly, deep conversations between Ethan and Riley give them the opportunity to connect again and to dig into a past that hurt everyone involved. Taking into account the page count, Amanda's betrayal, Ethan's guilt-ridden life, and Riley's heart break and tendency to run are all well addressed. Additionally, the sexual tension and chemistry between this couple works and in the end the romance is holiday sweet.
From the personal perspective, however, I did have niggles along the way. The reasons behind Amanda's betrayal are explained by Ethan and I wish there had been another way of learning that truth. Ethan's actions when he was an eighteen year-old young man did not bother me as much as Amanda's for good reason, but the fact that as an adult he continued to live a guilt-ridden life without love, did. And, I don't know if I would have been as understanding as Riley about certain facts that arose along the way.
This novella is first and foremost about getting down to the truth of what happened ten years before between Ethan and Amanda so that there can be forgiveness between Riley and Ethan. I say that because there is no question from the beginning that chemistry and deep love still exists between Ethan and Amanda. All She Wants for Christmas was a mixed bag read for me, with enjoyable moments and a well-developed plot, but with some personal niggles that I couldn't seem to set aside.
Category: Contemporary Romance/Christmas Holiday
Series: Kent Brothers Series, #1
Publisher/Release Date: Carina Press/December 6, 2010
All She Wants For Christmas, #1
A Rare Gift, #2
The Best Thing, #3