Friday, November 28, 2014

A New Year Marriage Proposal - Kate Hardy (HR #4450 - Nov 2014)

Will Christmas work its magic?

When reclusive Quinn O'Neill's new neighbor Carissa Wylde asks for his help with a Christmas charity project, he can't resist her vivacious energy. And soon he's caught up in the work…and the beautiful, fun-loving woman behind it!

Like Quinn, Carissa carries hurt and pain beneath her smiles and holiday cheer. On an ice rink, surrounded by twinkling lights, he'll start to kiss it all better. There's plenty of festive magic…but now he's got the toughest challenge of all: proving this romance is not just for Christmas but for a lifetime….

Lovely, heartwarming Christmas story. Quinn has just moved into his new home when Carissa stops by to welcome him to the neighborhood. He's distracted because he's working on a new computer program, and isn't very friendly. Carissa is bright and cheerful, even in those circumstances. When she gets a chance she looks him up and discovers he's a computer guy, so she goes to ask him to help with a charity project. In talking to him she discovers that he doesn't like Christmas at all, whereas Christmas is her favorite time of year. She's determined to change his mind about the holiday.

I loved Carissa's enthusiasm for the season. She is determined to make Quinn see the magic of the season and sets out to convince him. She takes him to everything from light festivals to ice skating trying to show him how wonderful it is. As she gets to know him she discovers that Quinn doesn't talk about his past at all and wonders if that has to do with his dislike of Christmas. Carissa herself has known pain of her own, but deals with it by trying to do good for others.

I liked Quinn a lot. He has terrible memories of his childhood, which have really affected his adult life. He was abandoned by his mother and raised by his aunt and uncle, but always felt as though he was a burden to them. While he was in college he fell in love with a young woman who it turned out didn't care for him and broke his heart, adding to his feelings of being worthless. By the time he meets Carissa he has gotten in the habit of keeping everyone at an emotional distance. But there is something about Carissa that he doesn't seem to be able to say no to, and he finds himself doing things he'd had no intention of doing. I loved seeing him start to loosen up and have fun, even if he was still having trouble believing in her magic of Christmas. I also liked the way that he was able to get her to talk about her painful past and gave her the support and understanding that she didn't expect. I also loved what he did with that knowledge.

It was great to see how Carissa's determination started to break through Quinn's defenses. Thanks to her he got to see what loving families were like. I also loved seeing the attraction that built between them. Both of them had painful pasts, but Carissa is more open to seeing what might come of it. When their attraction gets the best of them, it scares Quinn and he tries to pull back. Carissa finally succeeds in getting him to talk to her about his past, but then lets him know that he needs to deal with his demons if he wants a chance at happiness with her. I loved what he did with what she told him, and the difference it made to his entire outlook. His final push to show her how he feels was really sweet and romantic.

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