will be the last ones I read--if ever. But I read Ellen's story, and it was a scorcher! I meant to review it in time for readers to get it for themselves while everyone was still feeling all "holly jolly," but with a large family spread out over 3 states, the month of December raced by me way too quickly.
Emma Belmont's life has taken a disastrous turn. She's always wanted to become a baker, but only found jobs in restaurants, where the fast pace and the demanding chefs combined to make her feel inadequate. When she lost her job in early December, her sole choice was to head out east, to stay with her only family-- her sister--while trying to find a job out there. When her car breaks down half-way there, in a small, touristy town called Lake Holly, she wonders how she will ever be able to afford a room to stay in, let alone the car repair bills! The only garage in town tows her car in and tells her it will take not hours, but days, before the parts will come in. She seeks refuge in a small coffee shop, to make plans.
Nick Iverson has struggled for years, trying to make money running his small coffee shop, and raising his 14-year-old niece--Skylar--single-handedly, because his brother--her father--is a neer-do-well, who only recently got out of jail. He's aggravated to the max because some on-line "influencer," a term he only has a passing familiarity with, has announced to the world that they need to seek out his shop and demand he make them a Mistletoe Latte. Nick swore off making them when his fiancee left him. He has no reason to want to revisit the memory of the drink he was inspired by his feelings for her, to create. He's too old to care if he appears to be just a crabby old man--and frankly, with injuries from when he was in the service, he often gets cranky just because he's in pain. But he's not too old to notice when a very attractive younger woman spends the day in his shop.
Skylar is supposed to work in the shop with Nick, but her angst makes her fling attitude at everyone, and her uncle, in particular. Emma finds herself helping out in the coffee shop, and before long even Nick notices that she's cleaning tables, taking orders, and helping him to manage. So he throws her an apron and agrees to have her work there for a few days--just until her car is fixed so she can resume her life. And when he offers to let her stay in his house, it's because there's no rooms available for her and he can't make her sleep on the street. It's certainly not because he finds her attractive. Or because Skylar bullies him into it. Besides, he's way too old for someone as young and gorgeous as her. Of course, Emma doesn't see things that way.
I loved this story! Just writing about it makes me have that holly-jolly Christmas spirit again! As these two opposites fall in love, everyone around them seems to know before they do, just how right they are for each other. Skylar, in particular, appreciates having another female around, to help her deal with her teenage issues. And the sexual tension between Nick and Emma is as hot as the coffee they serve! Of course you know that since this is in a book of Christmas romances, things will work out in the end. But how they get there makes for some engrossing reading. Buy this now! Save it until next December, if you prefer, but don't miss your chance at Mistletoe Latte!