Claustrophobic Christmas by Ellie Marvel
Travel Queen Survival Tip #23: If you get stuck in an ice storm, find a hot guy to keep you toasty.
Travel agent Darcy Burkell has a secret. She doesn’t precisely jet around the world despite what’s implied in her popular newsletter about vacation destinations. When she hires photographer James Jones to illustrate her stories, they become close cyber-friends, comparing notes on exotic locales, vacation spots, and much more.
James is sure that Darcy is the woman for him—someone who’ll travel with him instead of expecting him to stay home all the time. Putting his ideas into action, James shows up at Darcy’s office unannounced and suggests they take a holiday trip together.
Darcy is too embarrassed to admit her phobia and turns him down flat. She knows what kind of woman he wants, and she’s not it. But her resolve is tested when she and James become gridlocked by an ice storm. Impassable roads force them to spend hours together in his vehicle…shivering. And cuddling.
But will the fires still burn between them after Darcy confesses her big secret?
Warning: This title contains dreadful weather, a medium-sized misunderstanding, jelly beans that taste like boogers and coitus interruptus by redneckus.
After a rather crushing disappointment of a book, in a beloved series, I decided to go for something completely different. I’m not much reading romance books that are primarily about the romance anymore. Most of my favorite books currently contain some element of romance, but it’s not usually the main focus. And I haven’t enjoyed much contemporary romance in a while.
But I needed a change. So I decided to pick up this quick story. And I’m glad I did. It was a good romance, even if Romance isn’t my thing anymore (which I increasingly believe it’s not).
I liked the portrayal of Darcy quite a lot. Her claustrophobia felt incredibly real and sincere to me. It was a part of her, a part that she both hated and accepted. She knew who she was, and though she wished she were different in this one regard, she also wouldn’t make apologies for who she is. She accepted herself. I related to her quite a lot. James was a bit harder for me. I understood where he was coming from, but I never really got the feel for who he is. Other than someone for Darcy to fall in love with.
The romance is less of a shown romance than a told one. We hear about their conversations that lead to him trying to initiate something with Darcy – who doesn’t take to that well at all. Circumstances – and a freak snowstorm in Tennessee, or maybe Texas – conspire to bring them together, at least for a little intimate play in the traffic jam from hell. I was less impressed with the sex than Darcy was, but all I could think is how uncomfortable having sex in a car is.
So this was a fairly standard fare read, until we got to the “misunderstanding.” James didn’t really understand what Darcy’s claustrophobia meant for her, or them possibly. And when that crashed up against his ideal of how they’d be together it made him more than a bit short and cruel. Thankfully he grovels appropriately.
And here’s where the best part of the story, for me, is. Darcy isn’t cured by the power of his magic dick. She’s not suddenly good to go because of love. Her claustrophobia remains a part of her. Her need for consistency and stability remain. It’s not all shoved aside and cured. I love that she was treated as a person worthy of love, for who she is, not having to change – even if it’s something she might want – to be able to obtain and keep the love she deserves.
In the end, this was a satisfying, quick read. I’m glad that I snagged it when it was for sale.