“Holiday Hideout” is a collection of three holiday-themed short stories penned by Vicki Lewis Thompson, Jill Shavis, and Julie Kenner respectively. It’s the kind of heart warming read that bases itself in a bit of a vantage point scenario – three couples, three different holidays, one cabin and quite a bit of hooking up. The stories themselves are as warm as the steady fire that burns in the cabin, and I enjoyed what it had to offer.
The first story in the collection is “The Thanksgiving Fix” by Vicki Lewis Thompson. This showcases the relationship between Mac and Beth, hooked up by (of all things) a leaky faucet at the aforementioned cabin (courtesy of Mac’s mother, who was more than willing to fix him up with someone!). I liked the progressive development of the characters and their chemistry in this story. It takes its time pacing in how the characters fall for each other, and while I think the pacing could’ve picked up a little more in places, it was a pleasant read.
Next came what ended up being my favorite story in the collection upon a second read – “The Christmas Set-up” by Jill Shavis. Zoe and Jason are coworkers at the same firm, and Zoe has always had a crush on Jason, but was never willing to admit it considering his headstrong attitude. Jason is equally attracted to her, but feels that he competes with her to get a valued promotion for reasons of his own. Mike, Jason’s brother, decides to play a deviant scheme in order to hook the two up at a cabin. Events don’t go quite as planned when Jason ends up hurting himself in a freak accident, and Zoe cares for him in his recovery, which leads to more intimate moments between them – and not just in the measure of sex. The two end up learning about each other, including a guarded secret about why Jason doesn’t celebrate Christmas. I loved this story from beginning to end. It drew me in for the strong characterizations and chemistry. It was a very sweet read.
The last story was the weakest for me in the collection, but I still found something to like in it – “The New Year’s Deal” by Julie Kenner. The story revolves around the relationship between Cleo and Josh, who separated five years before the story began (while they were in college) to pursue their respective dreams. The story spends time developing their relationship to the point where they reunite, but it was difficult to side with Cleo’s rationale in points, even with the respective issues that both characters have that keep them apart. I think if it were a longer story, it probably would’ve come across a little better, but as a short story, it was constrained in the sense that it had to push itself to a conclusion in such a brief span, and that shortchanged, I think, the development of the two character and their relationship to where, with more time to develop, it would’ve felt more resonant. Still, I thought it was well-written.
Overall, I would definitely recommend this collection to those who like light, sweet, romantic reads within the theme of the holiday season.
Overall score: 3.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Harlequin.