Two lonely people find each other again in this classic small-town contemporary romance with a holiday theme.
The 10th installment of the Twilight, Texas series opens in Los Angeles, where Katie Cheek is spending the Christmas holidays after trading homes with Gabi Preston, an online friend whose romance with Katie’s brother was the subject of I’ll Be Home For Christmas (2015). The holiday house-swap is explicitly inspired by the film The Holiday, starring Kate Winslet and Cameron Diaz. At a star-studded charity event, Katie runs into her old high school crush, bad boy (and Iraq War vet) Ryder Southerland. Ryder notices immediately that gorgeous Katie is no longer the shy, nerdy girl he once knew, and they enjoy a very hot one-night stand. Their paths cross again the following Christmas when Ryder returns to Twilight to take care of his ailing father, from whom he is estranged. Katie is tired of being a good girl, “moving through life without really planning anything, allowing the wants and desires of other people to push her this way and that,” so she initiates a no-strings-attached sexual relationship with Ryder. For unclear reasons, she rules out love even though their sexual escapades rock her world. Ryder sees himself as independent and proud but has commitment issues stemming from childhood trauma. His character arc is sensitively and compellingly portrayed. Though Twilight is one of those quaint and quirky American small towns that celebrates Christmas with a bewildering array of community events (including “Dickens on the Square”), the holiday theme is surprisingly subtle. Characters from prior installments pop up to offer support and friendly nudging, and a host of other small-town archetypes populate the novel, but the focus remains squarely on Katie and Ryder.
A solid Christmas romance that fans of the series will love, in which the sappy, sweet setting is balanced by the realistically depicted emotional challenges of the hero and heroine.