I received this from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I love the enemies to lovers trope. The best enemies to lovers stories are full of sparks, passion and banter. Sexual tension fuels animosity until love wins out. Their Festive Island Escape has none of that. It’s also not “festive.” I don’t like it when I don’t like a book. I feel bad, like I failed as a reader. I don’t know what Nina Singh was going for, but I don’t think she got it.
Celeste Fajadi has been very successful in marketing, but comes from an impoverished background. On what was supposed to be her Christmas Day wedding, she was left at the alter. Her ex-fiance’s best friend and best man is Reid Evanson. Celeste has been going to the Caribbean for Christmas ever since. This year, she ends up at a resort co-owned by Reid. He’s dressed up as Santa, sees her and berates her for her lack of cheer. She storms off. He has a change of heart realizing he’s just insulted a paying guest and sends her a complimentary breakfast. She asks to speak to management to make sure the Santa hasn’t been fired (no idea why). She discovers Santa is Reid and then suddenly they have awkward tension.
I spent most of the book wondering, why? What is it beyond physical attractiveness that draws them together. There are moments when they open up to one another, but they spend most of the book making assumptions about each other and not talking. There is a moment about 3/4 of the way through where I gave up trying to like this book. They are having a heavy, depressing conversation and Reid decides they should dance to lighten the mood. He thinks to himself, “Celeste seemed to be able to bring a level of energy and fun to whatever she was doing.” I actually screeched in response. At what point in the entire book had Celeste ever brought a level of energy and fun to any of their activities? None. There are no points where that happens unless all of his previous companions spent their time with him catatonic or weeping. If I had a physical copy of the book when I finally managed to drag myself to the end, I would have thrown it across the room.