Rating: 3.8 stars out of 5
You know those movies, the ones that are predictable in the way that you want them to be, that always offer that happy ever after ending, that are charming and heartwarming, always a bit sappy and very sweet? You know, like Hallmark movies? One look at “A Princess for Christmas,” and I thought I had this one pegged. I was all ready to cozy up for Christmas in July and “all the feels.” What I didn’t expect, was the sweltering heat Jenny Holiday brought to the table!
A Princess for Christmas is about cab driver Leo Ricci who has newly become guardian of his little sister Gabby. One evening he’s flagged down by Princess Marie of Eldovia and her posse. At first Leo is ready to dump Marie at her destination, mistaking her nerves for prissiness and entitlement. But when she rids of her escorts, and feels comfort in the anonymity of a stranger, she opens up about why she’s there and where she’s headed. As it turns out, they have a lot in common.
Feeling heard, Marie asks Leo if he can return to pick her up later, which then leads to asking him to be her chauffeur for the rest of her stay. Leo is thoughtful, always making stops to keep Marie well fed and properly caffeinated, making sure to drive by the tourist spots she’d always wanted to see. Something about their time together, and his tell-it-like-it-is-attitude, ignites a spark between them, and when it’s time for Marie to return to Eldovia she just can’t. Not without blurting an invitation for Leo and his sister to come stay at her castle for a Christmas vacation…
While this novel had most of the ingredients for your typical modern day fairy tale, it also surprised me in unexpected ways. The couple were a likable pair right off the bat and I enjoyed all the secondary characters and what they brought to the table. They sort of seasoned the story, highlighted the couple in the right ways, and made the story multi-layered, bringing it more to life for me. It’s not uncommon for stories in this genre to beg some allowances of the reader (i.e. would a guy really think like that?? Would it really tie up so nice and neatly in real life??) and while this one was no exception, it wasn’t too far a reach to accept for the sake of the story and enjoy nonetheless. Now, I won’t go into detail but that steam factor was pretty… unexpectedly explicit! It kind of felt uncharacteristic in comparison to the rest of the novel but maybe that’s what made it work- it caught you off guard, slowed you down, spun you around and said “oh yes I’m going there and there ain’t nothing wrong with that!” This was the first Jenny Holiday book I’ve read and it won’t be my last!
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