The Gingerbread Skirmish by Robin Weaver

The Gingerbread Skirmish by Robin Weaver
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (104 pgs)
Heat Level: Spicy
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

A freak snowstorm represents financial ruin for Kaley McIntire. She can’t transport a special order of gingerbread. No delivery means no payment; no payment means Kaley can’t make the rent on her in-the-red coffee shop.

Abandoned in the middle of nowhere, the same snowstorm represents frostbite for Tanner Clayton. Instead of showing appreciation when Kaley rescues him during a blizzard, he fixates on getting home to his violets. Not understanding his plants are part of a NASA experiment, Kaley assumes he’s gay, and Tanner doesn’t correct her mistake.

Stuck in her cabin for three days, chemistry heats up the mountain home, but can love possibly grow from a friendship built on a lie?

Tanner had been dumped. In the frigid cold, pre-Christmas snow and practically in the middle of nowhere, Tanner found himself walking for miles trying to find some civilization. Half a mile away near her cabin, Kaley spots Tanner. Undecided as to whether he’s a potential serial killer or just a genuine guy caught in the snowstorm, she ends up Googling him and finding out the man is a botanist. Convinced he’s gay, she allows him to seek shelter from the storm in the cabin with her. Only Tanner isn’t gay. And Kaley might be in over her head.

I found this Christmassy tale to be equal parts funny and sweet. I loved the author’s voice and even found the family-friendly Christmas-speak humorous (reindeer-hell, son of St. Nick etc). While the plot itself isn’t anything new – boy and girl find themselves stranded and snowed in at Christmas time – I thoroughly enjoyed how the author managed to keep the story completely modern. Internet connectivity and the dreaded cell-phone dead zones played a strong part of the plot and made it so I can’t believe anyone would take this as anything except a modern story. I was a little disappointed at just how antagonistic Kaley came across in the beginning. Far from being the hospitable host, she made it very clear how eager she was to get rid of Tanner, calling him names and degrading his genuine stress about his plants (he’s a botanist, so it didn’t seem at all outrageous to me as a reader that his concern over his research and plants was genuine and heartfelt) and generally being quite rude to my opinion. Her attitude really made it hard for me to feel any chemistry or spark between them, and her distaste of Tanner made their eventual romance quite hard for me to believe initially.

I was very pleased that the romance built slowly between Tanner and Kaley. After such a quick meeting and particularly after Kaley was so antagonistic initially, the saving grace for me was that the author really stretched out the shift from annoyance and defensiveness to romance and lust. This helped the whole evolution of their relationship feel much more realistic to me, and making their slow fall into love believable really helped me warm up to Kaley’s character and begin to enjoy the story. As I relaxed into their romance it became a delight to watch these two become intimate and fall in love. While I don’t feel that the sex is “erotic” or explicit, it’s not behind closed doors either. I feel this will be a lovely spicy read for those who like a bit of heat with their romance, but not the outrageous descriptiveness of modern erotica. There is also a lot of romance, a slower pace as the relationship between Tanner and Kaley builds and plenty of talking which I feel firmly places this story in the “spicy romance” category.

Even though this book is part of a series I had no problems keeping up with everything. The plot really does mostly revolve around Tanner and Kaley so the fact I didn’t know anything about some of the other citizens of the small town or know about their traditions didn’t really lessen my enjoyment of the story. While I’m sure the story would be more fulfilling for readers who have read the rest of the series, I found it good enough to read as a stand alone.

A fun and enjoyable Christmas story.

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