I started reading Harlequin category romances in my early teens. They’re not as long as many other books, so there isn’t as much time to get into a lot of complexity, but they’re still a comfort read for me. I like seeing what tropes they use and exploring how the author makes that trope shine.
Christmas Reunion in Paris hits on several I enjoy, especially second chances, one of my favorites. Chloe and James were boarding school sweethearts ten years earlier. We learn this much in the beginning with a blend of the past and present to bring us up to date. The early chapters even begin with news clippings and text conversations, a neat way to bring up what isn’t covered in the scene.
If this were the total of their past’s influence, my initial impression of being rushed would have held. I didn’t know how many critical details both Chloe and James had suppressed as they dealt with the shock of a chance meeting, each in their own way. Instead, we get a sense of who they were and who they are now, both because of their past and despite it. This forms the story’s grounding, while the rest is trickled in when appropriate.
Each time I thought I’d figured out the major obstacle they’d face in getting back together, another fragment, consequence, or influence of the past would add a new twist. At the final confrontation, though, everything came together and made sense. The block wasn’t easy to solve. If anything, it was harder to overcome because of all the pieces building the wall. Nothing felt pointless or drawn out. Each bit we learned either consciously or sub-consciously forms an almost impassable barrier.
I’m writing more about the plot than the characters because they are so tightly integrated that specific character notes would add up to spoilers. I enjoyed when Chloe and James relaxed and explored together, along with how the two of them sparked off each other’s creativity. As people, they had their rough spots, weaknesses they sometimes considered strengths, and so came to life on the page.
The novel develops along with the characters, offered a depth I wasn’t expecting in a quick comfort read, and addressing some weighty topics. Chloe and James are pushed to look within as well as for external sources of their problems. This creates moments of personal growth necessary for them to be ready to brace the future.
There were several open-door intimate scenes, with some level of detail, but nothing particularly graphic. The punctuation, and likely more, follows British English stands for those who care.
As a quick read, this story hit the spot, but there was more to it than a speedy love story. The theme beyond recovering lost love of loving what you do resonates, as does taking ownership of your life. I could list off the tropes used, but it’s what the author does with those that’s important, and I think Liz Fielding did quite well. It makes me curious about the rest of the series. I think I want to see more of James’ twin and their big brother, too.
P.S. I received this Advanced Readers’ Copy from the publisher through NetGalley in return for an honest review.