Christmas in July at the zoo is the last place single parents Eric Riley and Marissa Wilder expect to find love. Thanks to some mistletoe mischief in the form of their two young daughters and Santa, they discover mistletoe rules were not made to be broken.
Nice little Christmas in July novella. Single parent Marissa unexpectedly ends up chaperoning her daughter's class trip to the zoo when some of the other parents don't show up. Part way through the trip another girl's dad shows up, late. Marissa is attracted to him, but believes he is still married to Reece's mother and is put off by his flirting. Eric is also attracted to Marissa and would like to get to know her better. He is confused by her cold attitude toward him.
Both Marissa and Eric have some issues that affect their initial attitudes toward each other. Marissa judges Eric based on her experiences with her ex, who tends to blow off his commitments to his daughter. His late arrival and some things she overhears make her believe that Eric isn't really committed to his relationship with his daughter. Meanwhile, Eric sees Marissa dressed in business clothes and high heels for a trip to the zoo and thinks she's like his ex-wife, who always dressed to attract attention.
It doesn't take too long for them to straighten out their misconceptions. Their caution was understandable given their previous experiences. Once things were made clear, it was fun to see them connect. Eric's rescue of Heather put him in a better light, and then his care for Marissa when she hurt her ankle got them even closer. Marissa was cautious but couldn't deny the interest she felt.
I loved the way "Santa Butch" was there to move things along. Not only did he provide a way for Eric to provide care for Marissa's ankle, he also added a little mistletoe to encourage their first kiss. I also liked the way he encouraged Eric to continue his pursuit after the zoo trip was over.
I loved seeing the two little girls together and how they contributed to the development of the romance. I loved the scene at Eric's house that evening with Eric and the toad - showed just how much he enjoyed being a dad.
Even though the entire story took place over just one day, it was easy to see that they would want to continue to explore their newfound relationship. I liked the epilogue with the progress report, and the bonus appearance of "Santa Butch" and company was great.