A Holly Jolly Ever After

HarperAudio. (A Christmas Notch, Bk. 2). Oct. 2023. 11:30 hrs. ISBN 9780063222687. $27.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Kallum Lieberman was always considered “the funny one” in INK (the boy band he was part of in his teens), inevitably making him the least desirable of the trio. After the band’s popularity fizzled, he headed home to a calm existence running a pizza parlor—until an accidentally released sex tape thrusts him into the spotlight again. Winnie Baker was the star of a family-friendly show who grew up in purity culture. However, when her marriage falls apart, her perfect life does, too. Still, when the Hope Channel seeks out sexy lead stars for a holiday rom-com, they turn to Kallum and Winnie. Murphy and Simone’s second installment in the “Christmas Notch” series (following A Merry Little Meet Cute) is a steamy romance set in a small-town Vermont winter wonderland. Narrators Joy Nash and Chris Brinkley are delightfully matched as the former good girl and the teen idol, both contending with a world that has prejudged and categorized them. Their combined narration is sultry, maintaining the romantic tension throughout.
VERDICT The second novel in this series maintains the perfect balance, combining sizzling heat with satisfyingly sweet character growth.
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