Sunday, April 14, 2013

Home for the Holidays by Diane Leyne

Publisher: Siren Publishing
Date published: March 2013
ISBN: 978-1-62242-663-8
Genre: Contemporary erotic romance
Book format: E-book
Obtained via: Publisher
Reviewed by Keldon


Corporate attorney Nelly O’Malley is headed home for the Thanksgiving holiday, sans boyfriend due to her recent breakup; she anticipates receiving a major dose of flak when her family finds out their only unmarried member still has no prospects, but she can’t stand to confess her yet-again single status until she arrives.

Unattached garage owner Jack O’Dell carries a heavy load—the death of his family has left him alone for ten years. He’s planning on spending the Thanksgiving holiday at a friend’s cabin, by himself.

Jack had planned on closing early on the rainy Thanksgiving Eve, but when an attractive single woman pops in for gas after hours, he proceeds to fill her tank while she runs to the restroom. Their eyes meet, there’s instant attraction, and Nelly departs for the family homestead. Immediately thereafter, she loses control of the car and crashes into a tree; Jack fortuitously happens along. 

Without introducing themselves to each other by name, they stand in the rain having a prolonged and unrealistic personal conversation for two strangers, which ends in Jack offering Nelly a ride to her folks’ house and Nelly inviting Jack to join the family for dinner. Of course, the family assumes Jack is Nelly’s boyfriend, and the trope plays out from there.
The family puts Nelly and Jack together in the same bedroom. With barely more than twenty-four hours since they met, Jack bares all and cries in Nelly’s arms. Nelly in turn bares all and has unprotected sex with Jack.

The day after Thanksgiving, Jack receives a phone call from his mechanic, who informs Jack and Nelly that the car crash has a sinister cause and appears to be attempted murder. The police peg Jack as a suspect and haul him in, and he’s rescued by Nelly, who claims to be his attorney. The plot thereafter takes a sudden but brief foray into light BDSM before ending abruptly.

Although the story is written primarily in third person from Nelly’s point of view, Jack’s thoughts pop in at intervals in the form of distracting head hopping. The stranger-playing-boyfriend-for-the-family romance trope isn’t new and has been used successfully on many occasions, but fails here. In this case, their relationship goes from nodding acquaintances who fail to exchange names to intimacy at an alarming and unbelievable rate, even for erotic romance. There’s a lot of sex, but zero sexual tension. 

The attempt to introduce intrigue with the car accident feels contrived and exceeds the bounds of what is possible mechanically and historically. The novelette states Nelly drives an 80’s vintage Viper although the car wasn’t commercially available until 1992—and the source of the accident doesn’t wash either. The “murder case” is solved with such alacrity that any possible resulting conflict is negated.

Overall the read was heavy on sex, light on plot and characterization. A lackluster read, but at 22,000 words, mercifully short.

This is an objective review.

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