Author: Jenny Holiday
Format: Kindle Edition, 384 pages
Published: October 13th 2020 by Avon
ISBN: ASIN B083SNJ1RX
Links: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N
Source: Net Galley
Rating: 3.9 out of 5 Wine Glasses
From USA Today bestselling author Jenny Holiday comes a modern fairy tale just in time for Christmas about a tough New Yorker from the other side of the tracks who falls for a princess from the other side of the world.
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.
Since I’ve enjoyed Jenny Holiday’s stories previously, I was excited to pick up her newest release, A Princess for Christmas. I enjoy Christmas reads year-round and can be reliably counted on to swoon during fairy tales which feature a handsome prince or lovely princess falling in love with a commoner. I’m happy to report that I found A Princess for Christmas to be a heartwarming tale with delightful characters.
Leo Ricci fills the shoes of our jaundiced Bronx cabbie hero and Princess Marie of Eldovia is our enchanting heroine. Leo gave up everything after his parents died around the holidays to take care of his younger sister. He’s a good man who takes his responsibilities seriously. He doesn’t complain about his responsibilities, but time for dating or for a relationship is non-existent.
Marie has been betrothed to a friend since her birth so she knows that true love is not in her future. After losing her Mom around the holidays, Marie has been taking on more royal responsibilities to cover for her dad, the King, who has never recovered from the loss. She is a smart, caring princess who has great ideas to help her country, but her father won’t consider them leaving her frustrated.
The initial 40% of the story takes place in the Bronx which holds its own special charm. The rest is set in Eldovia, a tiny watch-making country tucked away in the vicinity of Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Austria, and Germany. Eldovia’s views are majestically picturesque; the accommodations are cozily plush; the people are friendly; and daily life is laid-back. AND, there’s chocolate galore in Eldovia!!!!! They even have soap that mimics chocolate and looks good enough to eat! I want to vacation there. Heck! I want to live there.
As the story begins, Marie has just given a speech at the UN, and now must quickly make her way to a dreaded party. But her car service has cancelled at the last minute. Then, fate intervenes, and a cab pulls up with a driver, a preteen girl, and a dog. The cabbie is Leo Ricci. He’s having a difficult day, but his sister is adamant that they help this woman (Marie) who looks like a princess in a white party dress. Marie makes Leo an offer he can’t refuse. And another… and another… Sparks fly from the get-go and we embark on a wonderful romp reminiscent of a Hallmark movie but with dirty talk AND sex! Ooh la la!
I would be woefully remiss if I didn’t mention a few supporting characters. First, there’s Gabby, Leo’s lively and precocious eleven-year-old sister. She’s a bundle of energy and totally steals many scenes. Then, there’s Dani, a close almost-family friend to both Leo and Gabby. I’m betting we’ll see her again in a future book. AND, finally, we have two characters named Max. One is a lovable pooch and one is Marie’s betrothed and a Duke-to-be. I’m thinking the second Max may feature in a future book too. I hope my predictions aren’t proven wrong because Dani and Max-the-almost-Duke deserve their own stories.
Also, I’d like to commend the author for interweaving a humanitarian movement into her story. The Princess champions a cause dear to her heart, the European refugees’ crisis, at the UN and in multiple situations later. She strongly believes that Eldovia needs to step up and help alleviate the catastrophe. Her overtures are educational and touching.
Following please find a few of my favorite lines from A Princess for Christmas:
“Girls need love, not braids.”
“He did not want to escape. So he surrendered to this madness, this beautiful madness. This wanting. Let himself melt, as heat shot through his body despite the cold. It had been so long since he'd kissed anyone, and having that heart-shaped mouth under his was so improbable and, frankly, it was making him crazy. So was the no-holds-barred enthusiasm with which she was returning his kiss.”
“Christmas is big business in Eldovia. We have an annual Cocoa Fest on Christmas Eve day. Restaurants and pubs participate, and so does the palace. We make big cauldrons of different kinds of cocoa and serve them outside on the grounds.”
“Are you kidding me?” Gabby demanded.
Marie laughed. “I am entirely in earnest. And there’s a Cocoa Ball in the evening—though that’s not for children.” She wasn’t sure why she added that qualifier. It wasn’t as if Gabby, whose eyes had grown comically wide, would be around to be told she couldn’t attend the ball.
“Oh my god, you are from a fake Hallmark country,” Leo deadpanned.
In the book’s acknowledgements, Jenny writes that the book will be one of three. I was able to confirm with her that she doesn’t consider the trilogy to be a series – so there is not an official series’ name – but there will be a set of three loosely-connected stories. As long as we get more books like A Princess for Christmas, I’m in!
A Princess for Christmas is a well written page-turner. It is entertaining, magical and romantic with oodles of delicious adult moments. I can’t wait to return to the Bronx and Eldovia with Jenny Holiday next year.