Adirondack girl-in-transition Jade Engel comes home to recharge after ending a career she never truly wanted, but soon realizes she’s in danger of also being swept off her feet by the boy-next-door, her former best friend, Ben Stephens. If only he’d stop kissing her every time she falls into his arms. Everything local celebrity Ben Stephens ever wanted is in Starling. Then Jade comes home after an eternity away and sends his simple world into a tailspin. He’s determined to pursue her—the one girl who got away. But when their friends-with-benefits arrangement blows up in their faces, will they have the courage to put their pasts to rest in order to forge a future together?
From Tule Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for a review. This is one of the “Christmas in New York” stories, with some of the related stories reviewed previously, including All I want For Christmas by Jennifer Gracen and This Christmas by Jeannie Moon.
As with the other stories in the series, this is a relatively short book, and was read in one sitting whilst eating dinner in a restaurant one November evening recently (it was a dark and stormy night!).
Things start with Jade returning home in the run up to Christmas, 29 years old, unmarried and some things best left behind her. She’s just quit her job for multiple reasons, is about to start college in the new year, has split up with her boyfriend (after finding out he was married, with children) when she runs into Ben, her best friend from school. Of course, he has grown-up, and has turned out to be both attractive and self-employed. Meeting him brings back painful memories of what happened in High School and why they stopped being friends.
Returning to stay with her parents for the month, and she is warned off seeing Ben by her mother Gigi, who has developed some form of hatred towards Ben, wrongly as it turns out, but it makes spending time with him difficult. Time does seem to go quickly (did she really only spend a month there?) and non-Ben/Jade events aren’t covered, so it goes quickly. The sex is very much “fade to black”, which is ok if you like that kind of thing, and there are some references to the other characters in the series.
Jade, in particular, does grow as a person in this book, learning to finally start to stand up to Gigi, and Jade’s brother Jeremy also gets to admit his own faults and starts to heal his relationship with his family. You get the result you want in a traditionally Christmas setting.