Review: The Christmas Pact

Published November 1st 2020, 161 pages

Authors: Vi Keeland & Penelope Ward

Riley Kennedy’s emails keep getting crossed with her colleague, Kennedy Riley.

The infuriating man forwards them along with his annoying commentary and unsolicited advice. At least she never has to see him in person since they work in different locations…until they come face to face at the office holiday party. As luck would have it, Kennedy turns out to be gorgeous…though still a jerk. Yet somehow he’s able to charm her out on the dance floor—and convince her to participate in his crazy scheme: He’ll go home with Riley for a Christmas party and pretend to be her boyfriend if Riley agrees to be his date to a wedding.

It sounds easy enough. But little by little, the act they’re putting on starts to feel like so much more than a Christmas pact—and Riley’s about to learn there’s more to Kennedy than she ever imagined. 

I went with the Kindle version of the book although I heard excellent things about the audiobook version. There’s a part of me that wished that I did the audio version as I enjoy the fact that there was one narrator for each main character. I’ll have to one day listen to it when I’m in the  moo d for a re-read. As this is a novella and not a full-length novel, it only takes a few hours to read (less if you’re a fast reader).  This story will give you a little bit of The Hating Game vibes mixed with the fake relationship troupe with a holiday backdrop.

At Star Publishing, there are two employees with similar names and it causes great confusion when it comes to communications. At the fictional branch on one side of New York City is Riley Kennedy, our female main character and at the non-fiction branch on the other side of the city is Kennedy Riley, our male main character. The two of them constantly receive e-mails that are meant for the other. While Riley will forward the messages without looking at them too closely, Kennedy will forward the messages with his own opinions added on. The two of them finally meet when the two branches decide to combine their annual holiday parties and Kennedy is nothing like Riley would have predicted.

 Based on Riley’s latest e-mail that got accidentally sent to Kennedy, the two of them strike a deal with each other for Kennedy to act as Riley’s fake boyfriend in order to add some spice to Riley’s life in her mother’s annual Christmas newsletter. In exchange, Riley must attend a wedding with Kennedy as his plus-one.  The two of them travel to Rochester together for the holidays to start their truce where each will help each other. Like all fake-dating stories, they both start to feel something for the other, but neither is sure that what they are feeling are real and worth voicing aloud.

Our two main characters have great chemistry and they each open up to each other fairly well while remaining true to their more cautious approach to their initial “friendship.”  It was nice getting to know a little about each of their romantic pasts and why they each are at this point in their lives. The writers gave these reveals a more natural approach and even though one of them was easy to guess, it was written more organically and didn’t feel extremely forced. There were some issues with wording choices, but it didn’t negatively impact the overall reading experience or flow.

Overall, this novel delivers a short sweet Christmas romance story.  As it is a novella, there are some pieces that could’ve been longer and made this into a full-length novel.  You do miss the more in-depth character development and story that you would normally experience in a full-length novel, but it was still a good experience and I enjoyed reading this short story. It’s a cozy light-hearted story that is a good read if you’re in the mood for something romantic and holiday-filled.

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