Chill Out by Jana Richards

Chill Out by Jana Richards
Publisher: Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday (Valentine’s Day)
Length: Short Story (92 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Renata Cabral needs to hide for the weekend. Her cousin’s Valentine’s Day wedding means she’ll face embarrassing questions from her large, extended family. Questions like “Why aren’t you married yet?” Since the breakup of her last relationship, she’s not ready to answer that question. She invents a work-related excuse and escapes to a friend’s lakeside cottage.

Noah Brownlee has been hiding for two years. But now he’s ready to come home and mend his broken relationship with his brother. When a friend offers the use of his lakeside cottage, Noah arrives in the middle of a blizzard with his English Mastiff, only to find the place is already occupied. With her big brown eyes and quirky sense of humor, Renata stirs feelings he thought long dead.

As the blizzard rages, the candy hearts predict love. Can Valentine’s Day work its magic between them?

Renata is taking refuge in her best friend’s cottage – using it as a much needed escape for a few days. Unfortunately, Noah had also been allowed use the cottage and Renata is loathe to give up her weekend just because some guy happened to be there as well. Can she chill out when they’re both snowed in together?

This is an interesting “snowbound” style book. I found both Renata and Noah’s characters to be layered and complex, which was a big help since the book really did center around them with very little supporting cast. I found the “two steps forward one step back” style of the story a little frustrating at times. While it was perfectly understandable both Noah and Renata were a little prickly – they both have pasts and in their own way were running from their lives and themselves – after the first few times of one of them cutting off or shutting down on the other it got a bit repetitive. It was clear they were both interested in each other, and while Noah was prickly and secretive and Renata had been burned in the past they seemed to run very hot/cold with each other and this sent plenty of mixed signals – to each other but also to me as a reader.

Readers who like a slower pace with plenty of give-and-take between their hero and heroine should find this to be a good read. I thought there was a good length to the “getting to know you” period between Noah and Renata and they each shared plenty of themselves and their history while the attraction grew steadily between them. The only real conflict was the sometimes prickly interactions between them when one or the other closed off a bit emotionally. The plot was very character-centric – more than the first half of the book revolved around them learning about each other while snowed into the cabin. There was also only the one sex scene, so readers wanting a bit more spice might find this slower pace and less physical style of romance a bit slow. I personally found it satisfying, but not overly descriptive so I feel it shouldn’t be too much for most sweeter styled romance readers.

Overall I really enjoyed this story. For the most part I liked both Renata and Noah’s characters and while I got a little frustrated with them both a time or two it was a real pleasure to read about them finding love together and filing the empty place in each other’s lives.

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