Just until Christmas…
That’s what Paris socialite Siena keeps telling herself. She’ll hide away in her sister Laurie’s cottage near London to escape her hot-tempered fiancé.
However, when Jason – gorgeous but a bit of a Grinch – picks her up from the airport, he reveals that Laurie hasn’t lived there for months, complicating Siena’s holiday getaway.
At first, Jason and Siena don’t see eye to eye. But after a weekend in the most romantic city in the world, experiencing all it has to offer – from the magic of a fir-lined Champs-Élysées, lit up by thousands of sparkling fairy lights, to the swoosh of skates on ice at the Eiffel Tower – Siena shows Jason her Paris, and a whole other side to herself. Suddenly Siena’s December deadline seems far too close… (Goodreads)
The book begins with the hasty arrival of socialite Siena on a plane from France to England, hoping to find a place to stay with her long lost sister. She hasn’t seen her for several years but was told she would always be welcome anytime, which Siena has taken literally. On disembarking the plane, Siena finds herself picked up in an old range rover that she mistakes for a taxi, not being shy of telling the driver exactly what she thinks of his surly manner. She is used to the finer things in life, with designer handbags and clothes and staff to look after her. What she is not expecting is an empty house and the need to fend for herself.
What she also hadn’t anticipated is sharing the house with said surly range rover driver, Jason. He has been staying in the house since Siena’s sister moved up north, and is not thrilled at the prospect of sharing his space with a fashion-obsessed bimbo. He runs his own business brewing beer and is happiest in old jeans and shirts, not paying attention to the latest trends. If it was up to him Siena would be on the first plane back to Paris, and he is convinced that she won’t last five minutes looking after herself. He will admit that she is pretty attractive, but he is determined to stand his ground and wait for her to move home, not expecting anything to develop between them.
However, when Siena realises that her mother has cut off her credit cards in an attempt to force her hand, she goes out and gets a job, determined to earn her keep and not be a burden on Jason. She has an eternal optimism even in the most difficult of situations, with Jason pulling her out of several scrapes and in awe of her positivity. Even at her lowest when she is forced to sell her designer handbags, Siena wants to help people and earn her place, no longer content to be kept by money. She comes to realise that she can do things she never dreamed possible, growing in confidence and ability throughout the book. It is her transformation that grabs hold of Jason bit by bit, as he grows to care for this strong young woman who won’t let anyone stand in the way of her dreams.
I adored seeing the relationship develop throughout this book alongside Siena’s character, as both are attracted to each other but start to dance around it and resist their feelings. It’s obvious that they will crack eventually and give in to their chemistry, it’s just a matter of when rather than if. I liked how the interaction of supporting characters aids their budding relationship, as they are given a nudge to see the good that they produce in the other. They both have secrets in their past to help each other through, which helps them grow together and develop a mutual understanding whilst sharing the house.
I loved Siena as a character and thought that she was bright and bubbly, keeping the whole book feeling light and hopeful even in the darker moments. She strives to be optimistic and come up with new ideas whenever her plans don’t work out, slowly growing in confidence to see that her ideas do work and that she can stand on her own two feet. She is relatively hopeless when we first meet her, never having looked after herself and relying on the finer things in life. It is quite a shock when she can no longer buy designer brands, but at the same time she faces it head on and refuses to go crawling home back to France. She wants to make it as a designer in London, and has no desire to marry the man her mother has set her up with back home.
From the beginning, Jason shows an obvious irritation with Siena that she just brushes off and ignores, not enjoying having to share his space with such an airhead. He lives a bachelor lifestyle and doesn’t want to settle down anytime soon, focusing on building up his company from nothing. He may be cynical when Siena talks about getting a job and staying around longer than anticipated, but he soon notices her strong character and realises that she might be here to stay. After setting some house ground rules he finds that she is not difficult to live with and that they share an easy companionship that he is scared to ruin. He knows that one day she will return home, and does not want to give her a reason to stay.
The development of these two characters is perfectly timed, with the relationship deepening as the plot progresses. Their interactions are also full of comedy and numerous moments that will have you laughing out loud, especially at Jason’s household frustrations (particularly his inability to ever get in the bathroom!). They share a connection borne from mutual respect and understanding, giving them a great foundation for romance and encouraging you to will them on and get together sooner. I loved how the more serious moments were integrated into the plot, with the overall book being balanced between character development and plot dramas, not to mention the steady build up of chemistry. I could easily read this book again and enjoy it just as much, making this a perfect, joyful book to sink into for the holidays. This has definitely become one of my favourite winter romances.
A sparkling romance novel influenced by the joys of Paris, this book makes for a light read about self discovery and the power of newfound friendship. Siena is a determined young woman on a mission to break out and find her place in the world, making for several humorous setbacks and realisations that she is capable of being more than just a socialite. There is a strong chemistry between her and Jason which is developed well, and I really enjoyed seeing their romance from start to finish.