REVIEW: The Billionaire’s Christmas Proposal by Victoria James
She’s everything he wants for Christmas…
Social worker Allison Barrington’s home went up in smoke, literally, a month before Christmas. Now the guardian of her teenage sister and a crazy pup, she shows up on the doorstep of the only man in the city she can trust. Resisting Ethan Dane had never been easy, but luckily, Allie isn’t into cutthroat playboy businessmen. And Ethan is as driven as they come.
Ethan Dane has wanted Allie since the moment he laid eyes on her at their best friends’ wedding. Having her in his home is the perfect chance to prove to her that their chemistry can’t be denied, but when he finds out that the biggest business coup of his career means destroying the youth center where Allie works, Ethan is forced to decide what kind of man he wants to be…
Dear Ms. James,
The blurb for this one sounded routine but the excerpt hooked me and made me decide to read it. Though it’s part of a series, I didn’t feel lost figuring out previous characters and was only slightly sequel baited.
So after watching her smoking apartment building and while wearing reindeer flannels and a ratty sweatshirt – looking like a hideous troll according to her sister – Allie is finally going to have to bite the bullet and ask for something from him, the one she’s avoiding. With her apartment building burned to the ground and only the clothes on her back, plus her dog and younger sister depending on her, Allie’s got no choice. So it’s off to ask Ethan, her rich and hot friend – also per her sister – to take them in. Just for a few days! That’s all, Allie swears to herself. She’s turned him down multiple times because They’re Just Friends. He’s charming, he’s handsome, he’s interested but Allie doesn’t want to be just another woman in a long line of women.
When they arrive at Ethan’s posh office, it doesn’t take Dani spin doctoring the events of the morning – really the girl has a future as a political consultant – to get Ethan concerned about Allie. He’s already on board with that from the moment Allie’s scruffy one eyed dog Captain Hook barks and announces them at the door then pees on his floor. Flirty playboy Ethan is someone Allie can sustain willpower against. Concerned helpful Ethan is another matter.
As far as Ethan’s concerned, Allie has ruined him for all other women. Ah, isn’t that so romance novel – but still sweet. By turning him down, she caught his interest and since then, he’s got to know her much better and finds he likes everything about her. He’ll even let her gerbil sized dog stay with them at his luxury condo. What he doesn’t tell her is that they’re alike in many ways – neither wanting to or asking for help or being caught up in material things. Ethan knows Allie’s desire to want to make it on her own because he shares it having broken away from his wealthy but controlling family.
Allie helps with teens with parental issues and her own sister is exhibit B only because Allie herself is exhibit A having dealt with a mom who has issues. Allie is in a better adult place to at least understand why their mom has acted as she has and done what she’s done while Dani is still in teenage anger and slight acting out stage. Dani might frustrate Allie at times but Allie knows what is driving her sister. Dani also doesn’t know until Allie tells her now that Allie feels she owes her mother for believing Allie over her mom’s then deadbeat boyfriend and yes there is a TRIGGER WARNING in that. Their annual ghastly Christmas visit to their mom reminds Allie of it all and of how Ethan, from his privileged background could never understand her.
Ethan has his own family issues with a snake brother and a manipulative father who has set the two against each other for years in competition until Ethan walked out. His wasn’t the happy childhood that Allie imagines and like in Allie’s relationship with her mother, Ethan’s has remained troubled with his father and especially his brother. At least Allie and Dani usually have each others’ back. His father’s attitude towards Ethan over his illness – that somehow his son was weak and broken – also makes Ethan sure that Allie deserves better than him. We’re getting a little angsty here with deep issues springing out and waiting to tear into this as yet fairly non-existent romantic relationship.
I knew that Allie would eventually accidentally violate Ethan’s edict about his privacy, so the resulting frosty anger and her defensiveness because she knew she’d made a mistake came as no surprise. And I can understand both. Then some more issues – from Ethan’s friend – get tossed on the pile. Queue manly meeting with friends where they shoot the shit and take the piss out of each other in that guy way friends have while also cutting Ethan’s obnoxious brother down to size. Gotta love old friends even if I have a feeling I’m seeing sequel bait.
There’s the subject of Ethan’s privacy. Allie invaded it and from what was there ought to have got a clue about something in his past. But she’s acting as if she’s willfully blind or an idiot. She questions him and he demurs on giving her an answer. That’s not good enough and she has to stake out an appointment to make him give her an answer. To me that’s a little beyond for two people who say they are friends and whose relationship hasn’t progressed to a more intimate level.
That wasn’t the only thing I got a little annoyed with. Allie prides herself on not needing any help, she makes statements about it, insists on paying Ethan back, etc but then when he has done something for her she gets emotional and teary and seems so touched that someone would help her and says things which would make me think she’s asked for help and never got any. Then she and Ethan think how much they’d enjoy a relationship with the other then quickly shut that down with follow up thoughts of how they aren’t good enough for each other, rinse/repeat. It’s like they’ve never thought of these things before but they have, over and over. Ethan’s involvement in Allie’s youth shelter closure also gets put to the side unless it’s needed to make Ethan feel like a heel for not telling Allie – over and over past the point where they start a physical relationship so of course when the truth comes out, she instantly swings to “You’re an asswipe and I’ll never trust you again” mode. Which given her past is understandable even if this is so romance clichéd. Then it’s money to the rescue though Ethan does reveal some weakness to his ice cold family which he swore he’d never do. I liked the beginning then got a little bored then annoyed with the second half. Overall I’d say it was a C+ read for me.