Happy Friday the 13th, everyone! It has been a loooong week, since the semester just began, but I’m really looking forward to a great spring semester. I’ve got almost all repeat students in my classes, and they are simply delightful, so this is going to be a fun spring. Now that the craziness of writing syllabi and getting started with school is over, I’m hoping that I can crank out my reviews a little more regularly than over the holidays. Here’s hoping, right?
Title: One Perfect Night
Author: Rachel Johns
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: December 19, 2011
Rating: 4 out of 5
This was a delightful short novel by an author I’d never read before. I’ve really enjoyed reading the Australian authors published by Carina Press, and Rachel Johns was no exception. In fact, I was a bit surprised that this book was published by Carina Press, rather than being published in print as a category romance by one of the Harlequin lines (Carina Press is owned by Harlequin). One Perfect Night has several of the hallmark tropes that you see in a category romance: boss-employee romance, hero devastated by wife’s death and refusing to love again, plus a traumatic event that spurs hero to realize his love for the heroine. And while the set-up and resolution of the romance in One Perfect Night sound somewhat clichéd, the unique setting and likeable characters make this a fun, light-hearted romance well worth reading.
Peppa Grant works for Lyrique Recordings, an audiobook company, and when the company’s family Christmas party is about to tank because the Santa has been delayed, Peppa steps in as the entertainer for the kids in a rented fairy costume. She’s a bit stressed, because she just sideswiped the boss’s very expensive sports car but hasn’t had time to tell him about it. Lyrique’s CEO, Cameron McCormac, is already in a bit of a foul mood, because he’s spending time around all the families at the party, forcing him to remember his frustrated plans to start a family four years ago. The widower is also dreading his family’s Christmas party after the work function, but the children’s entertainer in her short faerie skirt is exactly the distraction he needs.
When Peppa tells Cormac that she bumped his car and needs to exchange insurance information, he seizes the opportunity to have her pretend to be his date to his family’s party, not realizing that Peppa’s one of his employees. Her presence at the family party will prevent any pesky questions about his dating life and forestall any attempts to set him up with other women. Of course, Peppa’s a smashing success with his family, which creates more complications down the road, especially since Cormac’s determined to get Peppa in bed but only wants a fling. Peppa wants nothing more than to settle down and start a family. With two such disparate interests, can their affair ever turn into anything more?
The novel is only about 100 pages long, but it packs a lot into such a short book. Both the hero and the heroine have heartbreaking pasts, yet the book doesn’t get bogged down in all the angst, which is a relief. Peppa’s ex is a real stinker, yet she’s still hopeful for the future, even though she feels as though she’s been put through the ringer. She’s very likeable, and while you can see that an affair with Cormac can only lead to heartbreak in her future, you’ll be rooting for everything to work out between them.
Cormac, or “McSexy” as the women in the office call him, also has a painful past, which makes him a brooding, troubled hero – no doubt that adds to his appeal! His wife’s death 4 years ago still haunts him, but it’s a pleasure to see Peppa bringing fun back into his life. He manages to be a bit bone-headed a few times, but everything all works out for the best.
All in all, this was a fun debut novel with a lot of promise. I’m looking forward to reading more of Ms. Johns’ books, especially since the Australian setting plays such a prominent role in the book. I’d love to see her books in print, as I think One Perfect Night would make an excellent category romance.