5 out of 5 Stars
*I was provided a copy of Christmas With You by the author in exchange for an honest review. I am not compensated for my honest opinion.*
Carly Gatlin came to Oban to be close to what’s left of her family. She’s been close to her stepmother and one of her stepbrothers for years, but now she’d like to get closer to her other stepbrother, Ryan Westlake—or West, as he likes to be called—who she barely knows. With Christmas approaching and everyone going their own way, Carly’s become a Grinch as she tries to push back memories of her father so she won’t hurt as much. But Due South’s sexy bartender Kip and his family won’t let her forget. They’ll do everything they can to help her keep the good memories alive and surround her with the loving family she’s always wanted.
Kip Sullivan is happy to spend another birthday and Christmas hundreds of miles away from his family who don’t understand his reasons for leaving them. When they show up on Stewart Island unannounced and plan to stay for a while, he may finally have to make his parents see things from his perspective. His family takes his coworker Carly under their wing, making it impossible for him to deny his growing feelings for her.
Having read several of Ms. Alvarez’s books, I knew I could count on her to provide a well written contemporary romance with a happy ending. Christmas With You didn’t disappoint in this aspect. Although this one is novella length, it still provided all of the aspects that make a good romance. There was attraction between the main characters with a good pace to the developing relationship, but there was also more to the plot than just romance. Both of the main characters had family issues to resolve before they could be truly happy with themselves and their relationship.
The Due South series to this point has encompassed mostly the people who lived on Stewart Island or were coming home to the island. One thing I loved about this book was that both main characters were outsiders, but still able to call the island home. Kip moved away from home two years prior and ended up as a bartender in Oban. Carly no longer had much of a home in the US after her father passed away and her stepbrother and stepmother moved to Oban, so she followed them in order to have some family. Yet both Kip and Carly felt a connection to the island—whether through family or a sense of fitting in—making their story feel like a cohesive part of the series. All of the books in the series are standalone, but you’ll get the best reading experience by reading them in order.
The main characters were both likeable people, and Ms. Alvarez did a great job of bringing the heat between them. Their first sexual encounter practically sizzled off the page. I loved that Kip had an undeserved reputation for being a player. Instead of using the contrived player-turned-relationship guy, Kip was truly a one-woman kind of man who didn’t let his lust for Carly get in the way of creating a meaningful relationship with her. But don’t count him out as a hot alpha male. Bossy Kip was an incredible turn-on!
Romance fans who enjoy a little more to the plot will love this book. I highly recommend it along with all of Ms. Alvarez’s other books. All of my reviews for Tracey Alvarez can be found by selecting her name from the Author Spotlight tab.