Title: All I Want for Christmas
Author: Ros Clarke
May Contain Spoilers
Last night, Anna Gardner was the life of the office Christmas party—right up until she threw herself at gorgeous advertising executive playboy, Hugh Munro. Again. Last year, Hugh let her pretend their passionate kiss never happened, but this year he’s determined to make Anna admit she wants him as much as he wants her.
Except, Hugh doesn’t know the office party is the only night of the year his friend lets her hair down. That every hour she’s away from the office is spent caring for her sickly mother. That her mother’s condition, early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, is hereditary.
When Hugh finds out what she’s been hiding, he’s forced to do some serious soul-searching. It’s not fair to Anna or her mother for him to get involved casually, but casual relationships are all he knows. Can he prove to himself—and to Anna—that she’s all he wants for Christmas?
When I saw that All I Want for Christmas was a new release under Entangled Publishing’s Flirt imprint, I was dying of curiosity to check it out. Being ever cautious, though, I downloaded a sample to my Kindle first, and found myself engrossed enough in the story to buck up the 99 cents to finish reading it. I polished it off quickly, and while I enjoyed the writing very much, I am not certain that the price matches the value that I perceived to have gained by reading this short story. And let me tell you, this short is really short. The Flirts clock in at 10,000 to 15,000 words. All I Want for Christmas was 49 pages long, and while I did like the characters, I can’t see myself purchasing a lot of these. Additional Flirts will definitely be a splurge for me, because there are so many full-length digital titles out there for the same price that it will be hard for my book-krazy brain to talk my penny-pinching One Click To Buy finger to pop for more of these.
Anna and Hugh were immediately accessible for me; I liked them both and wanted them to get together before Hugh even made an appearance in the story. It is so obvious that Anna is crazy about him, crazy enough to reveal her true feelings at the company Christmas party by crooning a special song to him while participating in karaoke with her workmates. It doesn’t matter that she’s drunk, or that this is the second year she has appointed herself Hugh’s songbird. Well, it certainly matters to Anna, who is mortified and determined to never attend another company Christmas party again!
I thought that Hugh and Anna’s relationship was convincing. They are friends, and while Hugh is willing to be more than that, Anna has already given him the brush-off once. He’s not going to let her do that again this year, and that’s when I really started to like Hugh. He is a nice, caring guy. He is perplexed by Anna’s actions – is she really attracted to him or was she just so drunk she didn’t know what she was doing? He is fascinated by her and he wants to figure out where he stands with her, but Anna is not having any of that. She doesn’t want to change their relationship of Italian lunches of pasta and fatting desserts, and she tries to turn him down flat again.
Anna’s reluctance to get involved in a relationship stems from her family responsibilities, and her hesitation made me even more sympathetic to her. In a word, she’s terrified of a deep, emotional relationship. Her mother’s illness consumes most of her free time, and Anna isn’t willing to open either of them up to rejection from some guy. She is devoted to her mother, and as the story unfolds, there is a great sense of their affection for each other. Anna knows that her mother will not get any better, that she will only get worse, and so she tries to savor the good times they have left. I found this incredibly touching. Her life revolves around her mother and her mother’s care, and I desperately wanted Anna to find a way to lift some of this burden from her shoulders.
Hugh proves that he really is a great guy, and that he really does care for Anna. He realizes that she has isolated herself from friends because she doesn’t want to deal with their pity, and he resolves to help her despite her protests. I wanted Anna to let her guard down and to let herself be happy again, because nobody deserves the loneliness she has resigned herself to.
If you are in the mood for a heartwarming holiday story and you don’t have a lot of time to invest in reading, give this short a try. Though I am not convinced that the pricing works for me, the story certainly did.
Review copy purchased from Amazon