Series Name: Christmas in Eldovia, #3
When the King charged you with making sure that the hotshot American management consultant was properly welcomed, you didn’t send a staff member; you went to the airport yourself. Matteo would freely admit that he was the sort of person for whom duty mattered. No, that wasn’t it. That made him sound like a protocol droid. It was more that tradition mattered. And since Americans were so woefully under provisioned when it came to tradition, Ms. Delaney was going to be welcomed by a representative of the Eldovian Crown whether she cared or not. He cared, was the point.
Jenny Holiday knocks it out of the park with her funny enemies to lovers finale in her Christmas in Eldovia series.
Matteo Benz has spent his life serving at the pleasure of the Eldovian crown. His work is his life and his life, well…he doesn’t have much of one. When he is tasked to aid a management consultant who has been flown in to help straighten out the king’s affairs, he is instantly disturbed by her brash American manner—as well by an inconvenient attraction to the brainy beauty.
Cara Delaney is in Eldovia to help clean up the king’s financial affairs, but soon finds herself at odds with the very proper Mr. Benz. As intrigued by his good looks as she is annoyed by his dedication to tradition for its own sake, she slowly begins to see the real man behind the royal throne.
As they work together to return Eldovia to its former glory during the country’s magical Christmas season, Matteo discovers he is falling hopelessly in love with the unconventional American. But a man who has devoted his life to tradition doesn’t change easily. Can he become the man Cara needs, or will their love be another sacrifice to the crown?
Jenny has written one of my favourite holiday book series ever. In my opinion, these books just kept getting better and better. I would say these books can be read as connected stand-alones although I recommend reading them in order for pure delight. My only complaint about So this is Christmas is that I wished we could have seen a little more of the past couples in this book. But seriously, this book was utter perfection to me: it was sweet, funny, thoughtful and poignant. Matteo and Cara are delightful main characters and the story is a fantastic and strong way to wrap up the Eldovia romances. I need this book made into a movie STAT.
Mr. Benz has been one of the best secondary characters in the series, and when I heard we were getting his happily ever after I squealed out loud! Matteo, otherwise known as Mr. Benz, is the stoic and selfless equerry to the crown and Cara is an ambitious workaholic who wants to ensure stability for her working class family. She’s an American management consultant tasked with fixing Edovia’s money problems. She’s basically everything Matteo, who loves tradition and stability, despises. Change for changes sake, no way, not on his watch. Matteo helps everyone. He’s like Mary Poppins because he is so efficient and always solving other people’s problems. His giving nature is almost overwhelming. We see Matteo from book one, and I always pictured him as much older, perhaps in his sixties, because he’s so proper and stiff. In reality, Matteo is only 30, and the eldest son of a noble Edlovian family that fell into poverty thanks to his father’s bad habits. The book splits between Matteo and Cara’s perspectives and I loved getting to be in both of their heads. Although they instantly despise each other: Cara because she thinks Matteo is going to get in her way and cause her project to suffer, and Matteo because he thinks she’s going to destroy his beloved country; the two of them are actually very similar and are driven by the same needs and wants. Watching them fight their obvious attraction to one another (that everyone else is totally noticing, including the King!) and then slowly succumbing is a gift that keeps on giving. This is a slow burn romance filled with steamy kisses and stolen touches. I loved watching Cara figure out how to balance her workaholic tendencies with this growing attraction and figuring out how to still be her best self while giving a piece of heart and soul to someone else. Cara is in her mid 30s and is one of my favourite romance heroines because girlfriend doesn’t need her man. She’s got a great life that she’s worked hard for. Falling in love, for Cara, is not her main goal. And that makes her falling all the sweeter.
So This is Christmas is a little slower plot wise than the first two books and lets Cara and Matteo explore the mystery of why Cara is actually needed in the country in the first place. There is a small little mystery about what is happening in the country that adds to the plot which I enjoyed. There is also a delightful side story that features Mr. Benz and the fabulous Imogen and silent but hunky Kai that made my heart grow three sizes larger.
While Duke, Actually will still be my most favourite book in this series (Nothing beats the love of Max and Dani and Max and Max) I loved seeing Mr. Benz find love and watch Jenny wrap this series up with a delightful bow.
Thank you HarperCollins Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.