Warning – possible spoilers! (Tiny ones, though, and I’ll try to avoid even those; I swear I’ll give my best not to ruin it for you… :-))
A Christmas Spark by Cindy Steel – Book Details
TITLE – A Christmas Spark
AUTHOR – Cindy Steel
YEAR PUBLISHED – 2020
PAGE COUNT – 131
MY RATING – 4.5 of 5
RATED ON GOODREADS – 4.08 of 5
What It Is About
That’s the thing about middle school. It stays with you. Sometimes, it’s stuck in that unconscious part of your brain. Sometimes, you don’t hear from it for a while. Sometimes, you thought you’d forgotten, but during a moment of doubt, it was the first comment in my head.
Penny never forgot a high school incident that left her crumpled on the floor. It changed the way she used to see herself, and she never quite forgave Chase, the guy who caused everything, for it.
Years later, with a publishing deadline for her third book looming closer and about to spend Christmas all alone, Penny accepts her best friend’s offer to spend a week in her family’s cabin in Idaho. But when she arrives, someone is already there. Someone familiar and pretty much the last person Penny wants to see.
A Christmas Spark is a sweet and lighthearted wintery novella with a cozy setting and an angsty, sparkly romance. It features tropes such as enemies-to-lovers, I-hated-you-in-high-school, snowbound, forced-proximity, etc.
A Christmas Spark by Cindy Steel – My Review
Instead of leaving for the cabin at a sensible time, like three in the afternoon, I left after work. At seven at night. In the winter. During a huge snowstorm.
I love sweet contemporary romances, but even when they are written well, I often find it hard to feel the spark between the MCs. Here I felt it, which is why, even though it wasn’t perfect, I gave this book five stars.
A Christmas Spark gave me all the feels. What more can you ask for?
First, Penny and Chase got stuck together in a cozy cabin (and luckily with lots of hot chocolate) during a snowstorm. Which not only made me all warm and fuzzy on the inside, but also – being snowbound is one of my favorite tropes.
Second, I never quite got over how intense and sizzling, but also satisfying high school emotions can be. One of the reasons I still enjoy contemporary YAs so much. And here we got a bit of that, but also an adult version of pretty much the same thing. And I loved it!
Those stupid, childish words that have haunted my existence since the day they were uttered, so much middle school bravado behind them. They shouldn’t have meant as much as they did, but here we were.
The story had quite a few angsty moments. Several times I want to strangle them both (but mostly him). But, all the angst created quite a bit of chemistry between Penny and Chase. So kudos for that.
Also, sharing food, clothes and space with someone, no matter how grudgingly, creates a level of intimacy you can’t get any other way. But it was also clear they always had a connection and the heat between them. It all felt very natural and believable.
I was learning how extremely not difficult it was to imagine romance with someone when you were literally bathed in their magnificent boy scent, by way of a pair of extremely comfortable sweat pants and shirt.
Chase was a perfect love interest for this type of story. All swoony and sizzling hot. Clueless as to why Penny can’t stand him, occasionally infuriating, but also very sweet and charming.
I loved that for once I could actually get the ‘enemies’ part, but also that the guy didn’t turn out to be a total douche, stuck in high school forever.
And Penny was relatable. Her every emotion and reaction were well written, unforced and like something I myself might feel or do. She stood her ground when she had to, but most of the time she was just playful and friendly.
I couldn’t back down. Not to him. There was too much childhood angst for me to give him the satisfaction. It was that arrogant look he gave me all the time. Like he knew I was lying. Which, technically I was, but why did he always have to assume things about me?
They clashed heads a lot and Penny’s old wounds were practically palpable. But she was also able to let go, and the angst was really more about the prickly but playful banter, which created fun and lighthearted atmosphere.
A Christmas Spark by Cindy Steel was more wintery than Christmassy, as they were all alone in a remote cabin. So, no decorations or the tree or anything of the usual vibe. (Until towards the very end.)
But the story was still perfect for December or January. Lots of snow, lots of hot chocolate. Bit of crackling fire and ice fishing. Plus, it is a novella, so easy to fit into a (often) hectic December TBR.
I needed to keep moving to get away from his gaze, but his eyes followed me. How did I know that when I wouldn’t look at him directly? Goosebumps broke out across my body, across my arms, my neck, my legs, everywhere his brown eyes touched.
And that’s pretty much all I have to say, considering how short the book was. I picked it up at the exact perfect time for this kind of story, and it completely delivered.
I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone looking for a fun, sweet, angsty romance with beautiful wintery backdrop. Just… maybe not if you are already in the mood to strangle someone 😳😅.