REVIEW: Naughty or Nice by Lauren K McKellar

 

Published: 12th October 2019

Publisher: Escape Publishing

Pages: 70

Format: Ebook (courtesy of the publisher and Netgalley)

RRP: $1.99

3/5 Stars

One promotion, two dedicated employees, one very inconvenient attraction…

Claire Roberts wants one thing this Christmas: to land the big promotion at work and finally shake free of the office gossip that haunts her. What she doesn’t need is more competition, especially from a man who is nothing but trouble.

Hamish Christianson’s Christmas wish is to get that same promotion so he can support those he loves. What he doesn’t need is for his ‘nice guy’ personality to get in the way, or even worse, to fall for his biggest rival.

With everything on the line, will Hamish and Claire discover what it truly means to win? Or will their naughty games ruin everything?

A delightful holiday novella from our favourite Australian storyteller Lauren K McKellar.

I’m a long time fan and reader of Lauren K. Mckellar’s work, so when I stumbled across this title accidentally on Netgalley, I thought Christmas had come early.

Naughty or Nice is a short and sweet Christmas novella that is the perfect quick read this busy holiday season. The narrative itself is a mix of feel-good-vibes and drama-angsty, making it a little bit fun, a little bit sexy, and a little bit too dramatic for the length. All in all, it’s a fun, and mostly light read that is sure to get you in the Christmas mood this festive season.

The main story revolves around two colleagues who have instant chemistry and feelings for the other, but due to personal reasons, are having trouble acting on them. When the pair are thrown into the chaos of office politics, Christmas work parties, Secret Santas and the intense pressure of vying for the same promotion, their worlds are irrevocably turned upside down.  Amid all the pressures of everyday life and work, can Hamish and Claire find their happy ever after? You’ll have to read the book to see 🙂

I wanted to love this book.

I really really did.

When I started it, I thought it was going to be a five star read for sure, but as the book’s quick pace (typical for a novella) became apparent, I found myself struggling to connect with the characters which ultimately lead me to my three-star rating; I liked the book, but I didn’t love it like I thought I would. I’m acknowledging this here, as the fault with this book lies with me.

Lauren K. McKellar’s writing is still fantastic, but I lacked an emotional connection that connects to me the characters and the story, and thus I struggled to find MY ‘in’ to this particular story. Largely, I think this was because the hard-hitting emotional elements that I know to be a characteristic of McKellar’s work were missing. While it’s true, both Claire and Hamish carry heavy emotional baggage from their past, the quick pace of the novella form didn’t really allow this to sink in the way longer format of novels does. Instead, it felt a bit rushed, and perhaps a touch too dramatic at times given the small span of the story (both in page numbers and days).

That said, I really liked Claire’s character. Having been through a rollercoaster of relationship breakdown in the past, one that still affects her job today, she is a tough cookie that is trying extremely hard to keep her head above water. Her life is far from perfect, with financial burdens dragging her down, she takes each day as it comes and dedicates herself 110 percent to work. I admired her tenacity, strength and just her every day attitude. She was in trouble, there is no doubting this, but she doesn’t cry poor-me or rely on a lover to save her; she is quite capable of doing just that herself, thank you very much.

Hamish on the other hand, I struggled with. Presented as the nice guy, he is perhaps just too nice to be fully believable (I stand fully with Claire in doubting his motives at times!). That said, I was relieved to see that McKellar took a risk with his character and gave us a nice guy hero, rather than the usual bad-guy/stand-offish/unattainable guy stereotype which is common in Christmas novellas. Behind the nice-guy alter-ego, there is an element of ‘rough’ to Hamish, especially when his past is revealed in more detail, but I can respect, even if I didn’t fully buy into his overly nice-guy ways; Hamish is an everyday person just trying to be a decent human and get through each day as it comes. In the end, that’s pretty damn admirable in itself.

Which brings me to perhaps MY biggest problem with this novella: I wanted more. I write this, knowing one-hundred-percent, that this rest on my shoulders alone. Lauren’s writing is fantastic as always, and she carries the narrative through the standard novella form well, but I can’t help but want more; I never want her books to end. And that’s on me folks!

As evident from the above, I have an array of mixed feelings about this book. Its characters were mostly true to life, and I like that it showcased the not-so-nice aspects of the festive season. But it was rushed, and just a tad-too dramatic at times given the length, add into this my issues of connecting with the characters on a deeper emotional level, and this holiday novella becomes a decent three-star read.

Despite my personal issues with the narrative, I do recommend it for anyone looking for a short and sweet Christmas read this festive season, as it ticks all the right boxes for holiday romances, Christmas novellas and just feel good books really.

 

To purchase a copy of Naughty or Nice, visit the following online retailers:

Harlequin Romance | Amazon AUS Google Books | IBooks AUS  | Kobo

 

To learn more about Lauren K. Mckellar, visit the following social media pages:

Lauren K. McKellar’s Website | Facebook | Twitter

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