by Rebecca Zanetti
Release Date: September 28, 2021
Publisher: Raz Ink, LLC
Book #4 in the Anna Albertini Files series
Number of pages: 327
Ages 15 and up
CW: sexual harassment of a minor, kidnapping, gun violence, stalking
So Much for Peace During the Holidays
Anna Albertini has her hands full during the holiday season. Her boyfriend Aiden is back in town after being undercover across the country for the last three months, and his sudden over-protectiveness is a little too much. In addition, Nonna’s latest matchmaking scheme has been so far thwarted by the two most stubborn candidates alive, and Nonna is out of patience and bringing out the big guns. Anna is forced to both protect her sister and run interference, when she’d like to jump in and find a happily ever after for everyone instead.
To add to her already hectic life, her life-long stalker is about to make a move and doesn’t hide that frightening fact, although Anna is more than ready for him. In fact, she’s willing to draw him out to finally bring him down—regardless of the consequences. Finally, Santa has been arrested and charged for murder, needing a good lawyer. Who would arrest Santa? Anna can’t let this stand. It’s a good thing Christmas is a time of magic and miracles, because she’s going to need one.
As much as I love a nice and tidy HEA in my romance books, I can appreciate stories that have sloppy HEAs. Or really, HFNs. Each of the books in this series give Anna, the MFC, an HFN. I’ll warn you, although I don’t post spoilers in my reviews of the book I’m reviewing, a series like this that continues with the same main character may have spoilers for the previous books.
One of the misconceptions people have about the romance genre is that every story ends with marriage and babies. That’s so not true. The requirement is for there to be a happy ending between the MCs, whatever that means for them. For Anna, this story deals with her struggle to name what her relationship with Aiden is instead of enjoying what they have. She’s not ready for kids or even marriage, but wants to know that’s a possibility for the future of their courtship. Let’s face it, things are always crazy in their lives so she isn’t quite sure when she should have this talk with Aiden.
As usual, Anna finds herself sucked into some off the wall situations in this story. In most cases, it’s not Anna’s fault. She’s like a magnet for trouble. This time, everyone is having a hard time separating the crazy things happening due to her current Santa-playing client and the possible stalker issues with the man who abducted her when she was a child. When is she in danger because of who she is and when is she in the wrong place at the wrong time?
There is a lot going on in this story, but it all plays out to a satisfying conclusion. I love Anna’s hunt for the perfect Christmas gift for Aiden throughout this story. It’s a lot of fun to see the reactions of those around her as she struggles to get something just right. She hits the nail on the head in the end, which I believe is that much more special after being privy to her misses along the way.
Aiden and Anna fit together in just the right way. Sometimes I wish Anna would have more confidence in her worth to Aiden, but I also appreciate the author showing these little insecurities. I also like that Aiden understands Anna’s need to prove she can stand on her own two feet while also trying to convey to her that accepting help and protection from him does not make her weak in any way. I missed some of the fire with this couple, but the sweetness more than made up for tempering of the heat.