Secret Santo by Carla Caruso

Secret Santo by Carla Caruso
Publisher: Destiny Romance e-Penguin
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (54 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Hawthorn

Holly Plume is a bookseller by day and a romance blogger by night, dishing out scathing reviews under her pseudonym, Sultry Scarlet. When she scores an invite to the publishing event of the year, Holly couldn’t be more excited. Finally a chance to meet her favourite author, the mysterious thriller writer known only as AJ Ruffo.

When Holly literally falls into the arms of the mysterious and charming Santo Randolfi, she’s sure it must be AJ. After all, Santo has tousled good looks, dark curls, luscious lips . . . He’s exactly what she’d imagined. But when Santo reveals he’s actually the author of a romance novel Holly recently slammed on her blog, keeping her online identity a secret becomes vital.

As Holly struggles to keep Santo from learning the truth, she realizes just how much she likes him. But when he discovers who she is, will their relationship be over before it’s even begun?

Secret Santo is a fun, sweet, seasonal read that will get you into the Christmas spirit in just a little over 50 pages.

With short stories, you can’t really expect a lot of character development or any complex plotting, and Secret Santo is no exception here. I was hoping for a less clichéd development of the story, but the final twist didn’t really surprise me.

The story offered an interesting juxtaposition of two people hiding behind fake names. Holly is a romance blogger, Sultry Scarlet, by night and works in a bookshop by day. Santo Randolfi, on the other hand, is a writer who publishes his works under a pen name. They meet at a Christmas party organized by a publisher, and while Santo openly criticizes book bloggers, Holly fears he is the author she slammed on her blog.

This conflict between them persists, even though they feel more and more attracted to each other, until Santo reveals that he’s guessed her secret. There’s a lot of Christmas slapstick humor in between, some of which felt flat to me, but a sweet ending follows once both of them reveal their true identities.

While Secret Santo is short, it’s a sweet and quick read that will get you to hum Jingle Bells and wish for Christmas miracles to happen under the mistletoe.

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