By: Lyla Payne
Published By: Bloomsbury Spark
Publication Date: November 20, 2014
Page Count: 150
Source: ARC Kindly Provided by Publisher via NetGalley
Audience: New Adult - Contemporary
This was the perfect read to kick off my holiday season!
Jessica is a college student with a stable future on her mind. Her life hasn't always been the path to happily ever after so she's determined to secure her dreams. She wants to be a journalist, marry a handsome man who has the means to care for her, and have beautiful babies. Above all, Jessica craves the Hallmark family experience that she missed out on as a kid. Her boyfriend, Brennan, might be Mr. Forever so Jessica jumps on a plane and heads to Ireland to surprise him for Christmas. She can't wait to meet his family and see the Irish countryside. Jessica will learn that even the best laid plans in life often have surprising consequences.
I loved the setting of this one. It left me craving my own trip to Ireland to celebrate the holidays. There is something magical about Ireland at Christmas. Payne makes the country and its culture come alive in this novella. I loved losing myself in Jessica's adventures. I have added spending Christmas in Ireland to my wish-list after reading this one.
I had some mixed reactions to Jessica. On the one hand, I loved her intensity and her sense of humor. On the other hand, I found that she was a bit too needy. She often tries way too hard. Who jumps on a plane to surprise someone in another country after only four months of dating? It was also very apparent that she and Brennan were in the honeymoon phase and hadn't truly faced a reality of being together long term. Brennan hadn't even mentioned he was dating Jessica to his family. This causes all sorts of awkwardness. To make matters worse, Brennan's ex-girlfriend, Katie, is spending the holidays with the family as well. It might sound like a love triangle was bound to happen, but it is more complicated than that.
In addition to the issues with Brennan and Katie, Jessica also has to deal with the handsome and sarcastic farmhand, Grady, whom she first meets after hitting a goat with her rental car. It's not exactly the introduction to Ireland that Jessica was hoping for and it makes for some odd breakfast conversation when Brennan's family realizes what she has done. The relationship between Jessica and Grady was one of my favorite aspects of this short, holiday read.
Overall, I loved this one. The characters were interesting, the romance was sweet, there were plenty of laugh out loud moments, and the snowflakes added a festive air. This one is also fairly clean minus a few innuendos. I couldn't help comparing this to a Hallmark holiday movie as I read. I'd certainly be ecstatic if Jessica's story made it to my tv screen. This is a must read for those who enjoy holiday love stories. You owe it to yourself to meet Grady.
One Last Gripe: I wanted this one to be longer.
My Favorite Things About This Novella: The setting and the sleigh ride
First Sentence: All my daydreams of Ireland are colored in greens - lime shades, olive hues, carpets of emerald grass all topped by a stormy sky.
Favorite Character: Grady
Least Favorite Character: Brennan - but he did redeem himself in many ways by the end
Jessica, (not Jessie), figures that nothing could be better than a trip to the Emerald Isle for Christmas break. So she takes a flying leap and follows her boyfriend home for the holidays, not only sure that he will finally agree they're destined for each other, but also that Ireland will provide the perfect backdrop to the beginning of their happily-ever-after.
But it turns out his family--and his gorgeous ex-girlfriend--don't feel the same way, and even the family goat seems to be conspiring against her well-laid plans. The only person making the trip worthwhile is the very last one she should be thinking about, but Grady, the local farmhand, has a way of showing up when Jessica needs him most...and least.
USA Today bestselling author Lyla Payne wraps up the perfect holiday novella, ties it with a ribbon of romance, and tops it with a light dusting of snow. Perfect to curl up with under the tree. Just add hot cocoa!