[A quick note: This is my 4th Tessa Bailey book. I’m finding that I enjoy every single one of her books. They’re always dynamic, with flawed characters, heavy angsty romance, a bit of spice to appease my smutty heart, and a great plot line. Plus, they don’t all feel like the same book/read. She always gives each one its own unique feel.]
Newly released from corrections, Stella is making a new life for herself. When she’s caught standing outside the Christmas window display of Vivant, one of Manhattan’s department stores, she can’t help but gawk. Her reaction captures the attention of Vivant’s general manager and co-owner, who happens to be strolling by. She doesn’t know him, so she has no qualms in telling him its a tragedy in tinsel. He appreciates her candid feedback and offers her a job as the department store’s new window designer. Sure, his motives are slightly selfish. He can’t help but crave her nearness, yearn to know her better, and ultimately, claim her for himself. But he’s also now her boss, which adds all sorts of complications Stella isn’t interested in. Can they work around the red tape and fulfill both their desires?
I loved this one! It’s my favorite Christmas book of the season thus far. I loved that both Stella and Aiden have character flaws they must work through. I loved the New York setting. I loved the Christmas department store backdrop. Plus, there were tons of tropes like forced proximity, forbidden love, angsty attraction, bad boy hiding behind a good boy facade, and more. Oh, and since this is a Tessa Bailey book, you can be sure there’s a couple of smutty sex scenes. HELLO and THANK YOU!
Let’s talk about the characters, because that’s what this book did best. Stella was incarcerated for a crime she owns up to. Part of the problem was her best friend, and her inability to set boundaries. This gets her into all sorts of trouble. In fact, her life completely spiraled out of control. But when she’s released, she understands these shortcomings and is determined to be better. Aiden gives her a second chance. Not because he’s attracted to her—well, he is, but that’s beside the point. She has a genuine gift in design. She went to school for design, and has always dreamed of becoming a department store window designer. When she WOWs him with her design proposals, he says yes because she’s the right fit. Her background certainly complicates things. After all, she’s an ex-felon. This only adds to the layers of her character arc.
Aiden isn’t perfect either. He didn’t grow up around his rich, insufferable family. Instead, he was raised in Tennessee, with his down-to-earth Aunt Edna, who taught him to be a good person, and always see the sunny side of life. Sometimes his optimistic personality clashes with Stella’s. Aside from touting annoying Aunt Edna stories, he wears funky bow-ties that make him easy to joke about. However, deep down, he’s been secretly trying to appease his uptight family. That’s his flaw. Stella helps him realize that he can’t bend over backwards to please people who don’t want to be pleased.
I loved the second chance theme to this book.
Stella made mistakes, but she is hungry for a second chance at life. She must learn to confront her inner demons and her past. She must learn to set boundaries. Both Stella and Aiden must grow and they do it with the help of each other.
This is a shorter read, more of a novella, really. I had so much fun learning about both Aiden and Stella’s past. I loved seeing them work through their flaws and overcome them. Plus, I loved that there was smut even though this wasn’t a heavily spicy book. I’ve read several of Tessa’s books and enjoyed every single one, so I was thrilled that she had a Christmas one. 𝐌𝐘 𝐑𝐀𝐓𝐈𝐍𝐆: 𝟒/𝟓⭐️