Christmas was always Eva’s favorite time of year, but last year her grandmother died right before the holiday season, so as she faces her second holiday without family, Eva has to force herself to feel the same joy about the holidays that she always felt. No more moping around or evenings spent on Netflix – this December she resolves to get out there and enjoy it all. About a month before Christmas, Mitzie, an elderly client from the first novel, hires Eva to decorate her grandson’s 5th Avenue apartment for Christmas and prep some meals for him to enjoy when he returns from his retreat in Vermont. Of course, once Eva is in the apartment, enjoying the breathtaking views of New York, she quickly discovers that she is not alone in the apartment. Lucas Blade, widower, grandson and famous horror/crime novelist, never went to Vermont but only told everyone that so he could work on his newest novel at home and in peace as the deadline approaches. While he is annoyed at the intruder, viewing her as a distraction and a potential set up from his grandmother, Eva ends up spending the night because she won’t leave a job undone and he is worried about the early snow storm. As Lucas discovers, however, Eva is exactly the inspiration he needed for his new novel and after their interactions he is finally able to break through his writer’s block.
After an argument and completion of the job, Eva is happy to be back with her friends, but Lucas discovers that he actually needs Eva in the apartment to continue writing and the initial spark of an idea was not enough to keep his writer’s block at bay. Lucas tracks Eva down at the Urban Genie offices and offers to pay for her full time services as a personal chef and muse. Since Paige and Frankie are both happily paired off and know how lonely Eva is, Paige is more than happy to negotiate a deal and push Eva outside her comfort zone.
Lucas and Eva are polar opposites. Lucas has been widowed for the past three years after marrying his childhood sweetheart, and as a crime novelist, he always sees the dark side in people, their ulterior motives, and does not believe in happily ever after despite being surrounded by a large supportive family. Eva, on the other hand, lost her only remaining family a year ago, and always tries to focus on the positive – or has her grandmother advised her, “be the sunshine, not the rain.” Additionally, Eva has no filter and tends to say whatever pops into her head (I do think it’s a bit much at times – there is no way someone has that little filter but it’s nice also getting her internal monologue in addition to shocking statements).
Since the series starts with Paige, Frankie, Eva, Jake and Matt all single, it wasn’t a surprise that four of these people ended up coupled off while the fifth person would need to meet someone new. The nice thing is that Sarah Morgan has been dropping hints about Lucas Blade since the first novel, when Eva first meets Mitzie, spends the whole afternoon chatting with her, and mentions her two grandsons. Since Lucas is the author of Frankie’s favorite novels, he actually gets the name drop, so it is obvious that he is going to be the grandson to feature in one of the romantic pairings. Eva and Lucas both have different issues and are able to help each other work through them even as Lucas continues to focus on the dark side of it all.
While this story is much more of a whirlwind than the other two novels given that the other two novels focus on friends becoming couples, I enjoyed the development of the romance in this one a lot, and felt like Lucas’s walls were earned. His hesitation made sense to me, and I liked that Eva was willing to put herself out there without drawing it out in an uncomfortable way. As I said before, of the three From Manhattan with Love novels I’ve read, this one was definitely my favorite, and it has nothing to do with the fact that I am more drawn to food than plants.