2012, Harlequin HQN
Series: Book 10 of Fool's Gold
Jaded lawyer Dante Jefferson is getting used to the backwater town he now reluctantly calls home, but the pounding of little dancers' feet above his temporary office is more than any man should have to take! When he confronts their gorgeous teacher, he's unprepared for the attraction that sears him down to the soul. Evie is his best friend's sister--off-limits unless he's willing to risk his heart. Dante has always believed that love is the most dangerous force in the universe, but that was before he had to reckon with the magic of a certain small town, where miracles do seem to happen..
The Good: I fell behind in this series and spent far too much time away from this cozy little town I love. What a wonderful time to come back to it, with a Christmas themed story. Evie was a natural choice for the female lead, having introduced her, a little, in a previous novel. Dante was a little more surprising as the male lead, but they worked together perfectly. Evie and Dante's fears were both understandable, if not completely relatable. The Christmas setting made the entire story a lot more festive and upbeat than their romance would have been alone. Beyond their relationship, it was absolutely wonderful to see Evie interacting with her family, building those relationships for the first time, as well as seeing both Evie and Dante become real, included members of the community.
The Bad: I disliked the turn towards the end of the novel before the inevitable happily-ever-after. Mallery has a nasty little habit of making her male leads act in an unnecessarily cruel manner out of fear of commitment before realizing there is no fighting true love. It happens really often. I find it hard to believe that all these men use this same juvenile tactic and that they are always forgiven for it in the end. To the point where the other townswomen who've gone through it in their own relationships will get together with the hurt woman and laugh about their own miserable experiences. Once, sure. Twice, okay maybe. An entire town full of women who take back purposely hurtful men like it's some sort of right of passage, um, no.