Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Twelve Days of Bliss by Monica Robinson

TITLE: Twelve Days of Bliss
AUTHOR: Monica Robinson
PUBLISHER: Wild Rose Press
LENGTH: Novel (roughly 63k)
GENRE: Contemporary romance
COST: $4.50

Angel Parker hates Christmas. She does not, however, hate her boss, Brian Maxwell, the owner of Maxwell’s Department Store. He might drive her crazy with his grumpy ways and inability to remember her name, but he also drives her crazy in other ways – namely, with lust. When she confesses her fantasy to her best friend about having a no-strings, twelve-day Christmas fling with her boss, Brian overhears, and sees this as the perfect opportunity to indulge in his own attraction to his gorgeous assistant…

There are a lot of interesting elements going for this holiday romance, some of which work, others not quite as well. One of the strongest is the author’s creation of two Scrooges as her leads, two likable, engaging characters who absolutely – and with valid reason – loathe the Christmas season. Typical holiday fare has either the hero or heroine overcoming the antipathy of the other, but this elects a different route. Here, the reader gets two characters who actually embrace their Scrooge-ness, at least initially. It made for a refreshing change, and helps from the start to build a rapport with both Angel and Brian, when their individual perfection might otherwise grate as too cloying.

Such strong, pleasant leads sustain the story when other elements aren’t quite as developed. Probably the most awkward is the fact that the very set-up of the story would suggest an erotic romance, and yet, with the exception of a couple short, explicit scenes, it’s actually fairly chaste. The whole point of the set-up is for these two to have great sex for twelve days, and yet, those scenes are greatly outweighed by more traditional romance elements. The balance never really felt right for me (even though the scene of Angel and Brian trying on costumes at a sex store on their first date was hotter than a lot of scenes I’ve read in actual erotic romances). I kept wanting it to commit to being either one or the other. That slight unsettlement made it hard to fully invest in the budding romance, in spite of how much I liked the two leads.

The other aspect that held me back from falling in love with the romance was how convenient and easy certain plot developments were. While I loved that both characters were rather no-nonsense – meaning, they didn’t dither around with making choices or feeling insecure, and instead acted when they made a decision – some of the external developments would get introduced and then not really go anywhere. For instance, Lyle, an elderly vice president on the verge of retiring, is clearly meant to add an element of conflict. Yet, when he extends an ultimatum, nothing actually happens from it. The same holds true with the introduction of Brian’s venomous ex-wife. She’s there, she threatens their happiness, and…nothing. I’m willing to excuse it because it is a holiday story, and I do really like both the leads, but in the end, it makes this just a pleasant story, rather than a great one.


8/10 – Solid and engaging


8/10 – Strong, honorable, and hard-working


8/10 – Strong, honorable, and hard-working

Entertainment value

7/10 – Aspects of it seemed too convenient/too easy for me to be as invested in the romance as I should have been

World building

7/10 – Strong for what it was



No comments: