She made a list and checked it twice, but even Unlucky 13 Liz Bennet couldn’t have predicted what would happen when she made her Thanksgiving resolution not to come to the family Christmas dinner without a date. The hijinks ensue and the fire between her and a certain broody firefighter refuses to be extinguished. Pride & Prejudice sizzles in this modern retelling that includes quirky matchmaking schemes, thirteen hottie firefighters modeling for a charity calendar, interfering family, an old flame or two, designer dogs, and a snarky pair of potential lovers set against NYC for the holidays.
Liz Bennet is an intelligent NYC career girl with a comfortable income, and a bright future at the job of her dreams. But back in her little hometown of Long Island and with her family, she is still Unlucky Lizzy the girl who has bad things happened and let a promising relationship get away. Her sisters are all in relationships and she’s the odd girl out. Tired of her mom’s incessant nagging and put downs, Liz determines to have a date the next time she returns for Christmas. Thirty days…no problem. That is until her personal ad includes a glaring typo and her best friend takes over the matchmaking job. Not that she has much time to worry about her sad social prospects. Liz has just landed the perfect campaign to get her a promotion. She has the task of marketing a charity foundation to help increase donations. Her contact with the foundation already has a launch idea that she agrees will bring wild success- a beefcake firefighter calendar.
Will Darcy, wealthy businessman and founder of his own foundation to support burn victims and their families, moonlights as a part-time firefighter. The holidays are a tough time for him because that’s when he lost his beloved parents in a fire. He is distant, morose and drinks too much. This year, he allows his cousin to talk him into a needed life change. He will let Rick set him up on dates and very reluctantly he is dragged into the firefighter calendar scheme. His bad temper unfortunately leads him to accidentally provoke Liz Bennet who gives as good as she gets and then some leading to a nearly hostile environment with each fresh encounter. And he makes sure there are plenty of those- encounters that is. Neither are indifferent, but their emotional walls are thick so it takes the help of friends, family, and a mischievous matchmaker to set them on the right path.
This romantic comedy with the engaging holiday setting was a fun read. I had all the appropriate reactions. Liz and Will were difficult characters in the beginning and drove me nuts the way they sabotaged their own chances so often. I had a soft spot for them between all the emotional abuse she took growing up and his personal losses and their combined loneliness. There were a ton of laugh out loud moments, some sweet times, and some sensual ‘need a cold drink’ moments.
The elements of matchmaking activities, the beefcake calendar scenes, zany family, and holiday fun were an inspired blend. The interactive inclusion of the blog posts at the end of the chapters, nods to cultural icons, and the mild connection to a classic story were just icing on the cake.
The characters are colorful and come on strong. Liz is opinionated and judgmental when she gets defensive or her insecurities act up. Will tends to come across as arrogant and standoffish when he gets emotional. Rick and Charlotte are a riot the way they just dive right in and don’t care. The side story of Liz’s sister Jane and Will’s best friend Charlie was fun with her having her secrets and he worried that she was turning into her crazy mother. But the big comic relief was Charlie’s sister, Caroline. She is a cliché with her botox, snooty, social climbing ways, but what a hoot! The rival for Liz, John Lucas, just begged to be smacked.
As to the romance, its painful, hard fought, and poignant. They are attracted, but in denial. Will gets honest first and really works hard to make it happen. They were quite the pair and I enjoyed seeing the barriers come down. He is so swoonworthy that I just wanted to bop Liz for her blindness. That last fourth of the book had me riveted and I loved the way their romance resolved.
All in all, I had a blast with this fun holiday romance and would recommend it to those who enjoy slightly spicy Contemporary Romance.
My thanks to the author who provided a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.