Cooped Up for ChristmasAuthor: Sabrina York
Series: Eden's Idyll #1
Release date: November 30th 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Purchase: Amazon UK | Amazon US
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Though she has a romantic holiday vacation planned with her boyfriend, Victoria Walker, VP of Hospitality for Eden Properties, Inc., is called to fill in for a flaky employee at the last moment. Forced to spend Christmas as Visit Manager at Eden’s luxury Mistletoe Lodge at Shannon Lake, Vic finds herself spinning to keep up as she revisits her first job—serving impossible clients, herding a veritable clowder of staff-kittens, and dealing with an overemotional French chef. To make matters worse, her client has requested high-octane snow sports, so the staff also includes former Navy SEAL, Cameron Cooper, who now works as an excitement adventure tour guide to the obscenely rich.
Oh, and also? Cameron is Vic’s ex. You know. The one you hope you never run into again, because he’s the only one with the power to shatter your heart…
The Faerie Queen’s review
Maybe it’s my fault for reading a Christmas novella in March (it was luck of the draw trying to pick a book), but Cooped Up for Christmas and I did not get along.
First, some premise. Our heroine is Victoria, the VP of Hospitality for a luxury hospitality company that specialises in exclusive lodging and experiences for the world’s elite, from celebrities to executives to politicians. When the Visit Manager for Mistletoe Lodge quits spontaneously, Victoria is roped into running the show for a celebrity and her entourage’s Christmas “Visit” instead of going on a trip to Switzerland with her boyfriend Dirk. Lo and behold, the only extreme adventure company that can be hired at last minute (why is this part last minute?) is that of Cameron “Rocky” Cooper, former Navy SEAL and also Victoria’s first love from back when she was just a summer intern. Stuck in close quarters and under high pressure should make for a story boiling over with sexual tension and spice, right?
Well, let’s start with the good. The story was relatively short.
I kid, I kid! I mean, I did finish it, which says something. These days, reading is such a struggle for my pandemic brain, so there must have been something to keep it engaged. Mostly waiting to see what bizarre, celebrity-spawned near-disaster would rise up next. This might be a fun book for those of you into reality TV, particularly shows focusing on spoiled rich people. I guess I was also curious to see how things would pan out with Victoria and Cam.
But there were too many things that bugged the hell out of me. I’ll start with the smallest…
I genuinely do not know how long the gap was between the couple’s first round at love and this story. I could have sworn it was 15 years at first, but then another part of the book made it sound like only 10? So we’ll go with 10-15 years, and they’re in their 30s now? For my own sanity, I set them both at 35 in my head. It was the easiest thing to do.
I also have no real idea of what they look like. If you are looking at the cover for any indication, you will be sorely disappointed. Cam is described as very muscular and large, with kinda buzzed hair, which is not how I’d describe that dude on the cover. As for Victoria, the only thing I gathered about her is that she’s overweight to some degree? All I picked up on while reading was the most awkward declaration from Victoria about how she’s curvy and happy that way, but also she’s very sensitive to even the smallest suggestion of her weight. So is she happy and confident, or is it a sore subject? I couldn’t tell, and it was only talked about in that single, cumbersome interaction. I’ve known romance authors who could write curvy characters well, making their bodies sound luscious, but that was not achieved in this book. I don’t even know if Victoria is supposed to be blonde, but I’m going to guess yes, otherwise the cover is lying on all fronts.
Before I move on from looks and bodies, I would be remiss to mention that this book has zero actual heat. The sex scenes? Fade-to-black. That wouldn’t be such a problem though if the kisses were h-o-t and the tension exuding from the page. Also, it wouldn’t have hurt to have some more reconnecting on the page considering they hadn’t seen each other in so long and were very different people now. Alas, I was too annoyed with all the other things going on in the book to feel any chemistry between Victoria and Cam.
Honestly, my biggest gripe with this book was how it portrayed a career-focused woman as being cold and stuck up, and she needed a hot guy to warm her up again. The whole way through, Victoria is unfeeling, closed off to all relationships, with zero real care for her boyfriend Dirk (it shows). The whole story is about how she is the problem. Cam just gets to be cocky and push his way back into her life, undermining her at work at times because he’s the one there to show her that she’s wrong to be on that path. He has seemingly no personality beyond being physically attractive, sometimes helpful, and a former SEAL. (Oh, and he doesn’t seek out consent before kissing her as soon as they lay eyes on each other after at least a decade apart.) There’s no development on his side, no growth. Just Victoria, who needs to be more “feminine” (insomuch as women are meant to be more motherly and warm and less career-driven). Playing on this career woman stereotype made me so mad.
I was also quite upset with the Dirk thing. I don’t think he was necessary for the story at all, and Victoria had zero qualms with cheating on him before revealing to the reader that they don’t really expect monogamy from each other. Not that it sounds like they ever explicitly had that conversation…
Finally, I couldn’t deal with how unrealistic the whole business was. You hire out luxury properties with full staffing for the elite, so you’d think everything would be run and managed like a well-oiled machine. For a start, you’d have a fully trained, experienced staff. One of my cousins has worked in hotels and is currently working on her Masters in Hospitality Management with a luxury hotel chain. I know enough from conversations with her and common sense that you need the best of the best at these places. You’ll hire people with special training specifically in high-end hospitality who are set on a career in the industry and have worked their way to this point. This seemed more like they were getting holiday interns with no real training or experience, more suited for Holiday Inns and hostels. And the VP of Hospitality making comments about not making that much money? She’d be rolling in cash. So shut up with how taking over staff training would be a paycheck boost. I don’t buy that for a second.
Ok, I had a lot of feelings about this one. Eek. I really hope that this was just a one-off flop from Sabrina York, as it looks like she’s got a lot of books published, so there must be something working for her!