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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Merry Christmas, Paige by Mackenzie McKade

Merry Christmas, Paige by Mackenzie McKade
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (136 pgs)
Other: M/F
Rating: 3.5 Cherries
Review by Fern

One fateful detour. A raging storm. She didn’t see this love coming…

Holding a knife against a child’s throat isn’t exactly how Dr. Paige Weston had planned to spend her Christmas holiday. But a jolt from an air pocket and here she is, performing an emergency tracheotomy as her flight to Fiji diverts to Kauai. The one place she swore never to return.

Beside the fact her patient comes first, what’s the chance she’ll run into her ex-fiancĂ©—the man who jilted her when another woman turned up pregnant? Then she realizes the island hospital is woefully understaffed, forcing her to lend a hand. And upping the odds that her heart will hit more turbulence before she makes her escape.

Nathan Cross can’t believe his eyes. The emergency room doctor tending to his daughter’s cut foot is the woman he’s dreamed about every night since he was forced to walk out of her life. He should have been prepared for her indifference, but he’s blindsided by the need to hold her in his arms. Just one more time.

Yet Fate is a trickster, leaving him wondering if he should grasp for a second chance…or take his punishment for one, long-ago choice.

Warning: This book contains two lovers destined to make up for lost time, which means moments of deep emotional and hot lusty sex, including in such places as against the wall, up against a railing (my personal favorite), on the hood of a truck, in the rain, and every other imaginable place.

Merry Christmas, Paige is the kind of story you read when you want to believe that miracles do come true. As the blurb promises, there is deep emotion and oodles of sizzling hot sex in between. The problem-–for me, at least-–is I had a very hard time believing it.

The tale begins with Paige performing a tracheotomy on a child who has stopped breathing. She saves his life and can’t bear to let the little guy go when he squeezes her hand as the airplane lands at a hospital in the closest proximity. She’s worried about sticking around, of course, as the location is one she swore she’d never return to. Kauai is the place she first fell in love, as well as had her heart brutally crushed. But she won’t bump into Nathan, she reassures herself. He’s married now, having left her for the woman carrying his child some five years before. Agreeing to help the hospital during her brief stay, she gets to work to keep her mind off of the past. Then, in a stroke of misfortune-–or is it luck?-–her next patient turns out to be Nathan’s daughter.

Nathan is getting a divorce, having realized he is nothing without the woman he let go. Now that she’s accessible, he just has to gain Paige’s trust and show her that he’ll never hurt her again. At this point, the emotional fireworks come out, and man-oh-man, are they explosive! She loves him but she hates him. She wants him but she’s afraid he’s going to hurt her. Nathan promises her the moon and pleads for forgiveness, swearing he has longed for only her after all these years. After a stint of crying, Paige literally jumps into our hero’s arms, and from that point forward, allows him to make all of the choices regarding their proposed future together with only a small demon on her shoulder whispering a cautionary warning.

I’m all for a HEA, but in this circumstance, I kept wondering what Paige was thinking. Nathan has been absent from her life for five years, has a young child with another woman, and pretty much turned his back on her and walked away when he found out he was going to be a father. But since he’s seen the error of his ways, is getting a divorce and promises he still loves and wants only her…it’s time to start fresh?

Perhaps if more time was devoted to working out their issues instead of Paige silently pondering the risks of losing everything she’s worked for before agreeing to let it all go and move to Kauai to be with Nathan, it might have been easier to believe. As it was, the reunion felt forced. Each roadblock or logical concern was met with an “I love you, we’ll get through anything” response, which is all well and good if you’re not vying for viability. As much as I wanted to like Nathan, I kept thinking about how incredibly selfish he was. First, he breaks Paige’s heart without any regard to her feelings. Then, he realizes he will have to do the same to his little girl by bringing Paige into her life immediately following her mother’s absence.

With that said, there are positive things in the story, the biggest being the style of writing and pace. Ms. McKade writes emotional scenes beautifully, and you’ll need a box of hankies when Nathan and Paige face off for the first time in five years. It’s the initial intensity that snagged my attention and held my interest. Both protagonists are torn-up over the loss of love, but want one another so much your heart will cramp and knot. I had that heavy weight in my chest on more than one occasion, and will readily admit to experiencing that wrench in my gut and sting in my eyes that accompanies the desire to tear up. It doesn’t hurt that the sexual chemistry between the protagonists is so hot you’ll blister and wilt, and considering the length of the work, there is more than enough to satisfy erotica enthusiasts. Five years is an awful long time to burn for someone, and Nathan and Paige more than make up for it when they are reunited.

I recommend Merry Christmas, Paige to readers that like stories with that have a fairytale feel but contain enough heat between the sheets to keep the blood pumping.

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