Overall rating – 5 silken sheets
Tension and family holidays go together like eggnog and candy canes.
When lawyer Anna brings her boyfriend Jason home for the holidays, it’s a recipe for family drama. Her parents have high expectations for her fast-track future. And those don’t include her hooking up with a kennel worker suffering the results of traumatic brain injury.
With a lousy memory and a shaky past, Jason knows he’s no prize. But what he and Anna have together is priceless. An impulsive proposal on the way to her family’s house seems the best way to prove his feelings for her are forever. Anna’s hesitation to accept stops his heart. And when she seems willing to use him to get back at her manipulative mom, Jason wonders if he’s made the mistake of his life.
Exposed to the light of critical eyes, Jason and Anna’s fairy-tale romance threatens to crumble. The hurdles of their pasts may prove too much for this princess and her pauper. And this new year may ring in bright beginnings – or the end of all their hopes and dreams.
I have to say, I adored New Life #1, the emotional journey made by brain-damaged Jason and high-flying lawyer Anna, when they fell in love. When I was asked if I’d like a review copy of New Year, the novella sequel, I squeeeeed in delight and grabbed a copy.
If you want to refresh your memory of New Life, my review can be found here:
You can probably read this as a standalone, but really, it would be like having a jug of maple syrup, without a pancake.
New Life ended when Jason and Anna committed to a relationship and moved in together, with Anna’s puppy, Baby. They still had lots of challenges ahead, including a strained relationship with Anna’s parents. Even if Jason hadn’t been disabled (following a car accident), his parents would most likely have frowned on him as a suitable partner for their daughter, and so add in his condition, and yeah… they don’t have positive thoughts about him being in Anna’s life.
In an attempt to improve this, Anna and Jason set off to spend Christmas at her family home, and Jason, quite honestly, is dreading it. He’s especially unsure of his status with Anna. Yes, she says she loves him, but doubt continues to eat at him, and he decides to do something about it. He spends all his savings on an engagement ring, but then is faced with the dilemma of when to propose.
In hindsight, asking her to pull over shortly before they arrive, is not the best idea. Anna is tired and stressed, and instantly assumes there’s a problem.
And then I took the box from my pocket and offered it to her.
About a split second later, I knew it was a big mistake.
I heard the booming Uh-Oh in my head. I’d already been mentally shouting at Jason to wait, to pick a better time, but no. The deed was done. My heart was in my mouth as I raced on to see how Anna would react.
He flipped the lid up, and yes, it was a ring. A pretty little sparkling thing that looked as if it would fit my finger perfectly.
“Oh, Jason. It’s so… I had no idea. How long have you been planning this?”
“Not too long. I just started thinking about how much you mean to me. I love you, and I wanted to show it in a concrete kind of way.” He stared at the ring, then into my eyes again. “But I can tell it’s too soon. It was a bad idea.”
Anna is shocked by the suddenness of the proposal, and a hair’s-breadth away from accepting, but her calm and rational mind tells her to wait. To think about it first. Poor Jason.
Hot on the heels of his failed-proposal, Jason now has to meet her entire extended family, play nice with her difficult parents, and somehow get through the holiday. He copes by taking Baby for a lot of walks in the snow, and that becomes his escape. Christmas is a nightmare, and Bonnie Dee captures the awkward conversations beautifully. Even when they’re trying to be fair, Anna’s relatives seem to be judging Jason.
“Yeah, that’s right. Dog washing and walking and kennel cleaning.”
“That must be… a pleasant job,” Stan said. “Low stress.” All an underachiever like you can handle remained unspoken.
Trapped between a retired lawyer and a brand-new surgeon, I felt about as useless as a dirty dishwasher as they walked me towards the garage.
Jason can see that things between Anna and her mother are strained. He doesn’t expect to be used as a pawn.
Anna took my hand, which was resting on the tabletop, and held it. “Well, since you brought it up, Mom. Yes, Jason has asked me to marry him, and I’ve accepted.”
Nice one, Anna. A flare of anger and hurt flickered through me. This was not the sort of “yes” I wanted to receive. Not like this. Not as a fuck you to her folks. Was that the only reason I was even here? A wrong-side-of-the-tracks guy brought home to throw in her parents’ faces?
New Year, like New Life, is written from both Anna’s and Jason’s POV, so you get to feel all the angst and emotion, and Bonnie Dee writes plenty of that. It’s hot too, the physical spark between this couple is tangible all the way through, and you hope, you desperately hope, they can make this work. It’s a fabulous follow-up to New Life and takes you on an equivalent emotional workout.
PS. You might need some tissues at hand… just sayin… 🙂
Overall rating – 5 silken sheets
Sexy rating – 4 lips
Plot – great
Characters – fabulous!
Warnings – you might need a box of tissues on standby…
Genre: Contemporary romance
Self-Published: November 2013; $0.99