A Princess for Christmas
Author: Jenny Holiday
Publisher: Avon (October 13, 2020)
Paperback, 400 pages
Romance, Adult romance, Contemporary romance
Leo Ricci’s already handling all he can, between taking care of his little sister Gabby, driving a cab, and being the super of his apartment building in the Bronx. But when Gabby spots a “princess” in a gown outside of the UN trying to hail a cab, she begs her brother to stop and help. Before he knows it, he’s got a real-life damsel in distress in the backseat of his car.
Princess Marie of Eldovia shouldn’t be hailing a cab, or even be out and about. But after her mother’s death, her father has plunged into a devastating depression and the fate of her small Alpine country has fallen on Marie’s shoulders. She’s taken aback by the gruff but devastatingly handsome driver who shows her more kindness than she’s seen in a long time.
When Marie asks Leo to be her driver for the rest of her trip, he agrees, thinking he’ll squire a rich miss around for a while and make more money than he has in months. He doesn’t expect to like and start longing for the unpredictable Marie. And when he and Gabby end up in Eldovia for Christmas, he discovers the princess who is all wrong for him is also the woman who is his perfect match.
I love a good holiday romance, and A Princess for Christmas truly does seem like something you’d see on Hallmark for the holidays. (Well, maybe with the dirty parts omitted, haha!) I loved the repeated poking fun at how “Princess Marie of Eldovia” sounds like something from a Hallmark movie, and there must be, gosh, half a dozen references to situations/events in the book being like a Hallmark movie. It’s even got tragic pasts for both leads that happened at Christmas, and a “Christmas miracle” transformation, so… Hey, Hallmark – actually this WOULD make a really great movie, so could you please…?
Leo is caring for his younger sister so this book gives off vibes that are adjacent to the single dad trope. I love his stubborn working-class New Yorker pride, his anxiety over being a good brother and also good parent figure to his sister, and his quiet and sort of gruff kindness. His little sister Gabby is also a great character, right in that limbo between girl and woman at 11 years old, and I just want to hug her and feed her cake.
I adore Marie. She’s such a complex character, at times bold and commanding and at others unsure of herself and her place. She’s definitely going through a growth and transition period in her life, and I’m so proud of her for the amount of growing she does in this book. (Which is maybe silly, since she’s a fictional character and not a real person, but still – SO PROUD.)
The chemistry between Leo and Marie is – oof. There’s definitely some sexy heat there, but at the same time their attraction is so tender, especially on Leo’s part. He really SEES Marie – even when he really doesn’t want to, haha. I think what I truly LOVE about this book – and Jenny Holiday’s writing in general – is that it is so lighthearted and fun with plenty of great laugh-out-loud moments, but at the same time both Marie and Leo are deeply lonely people struggling with very real problems. While finding each other doesn’t solve all those problems (it in fact causes some new ones), they are able to join forces and help each other stand a little taller and face the scary and unpleasant things, which feel a little more conquerable with the person you love’s hand clutched in yours.
A digital ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.