Author: Kenzie Cade
Title: Reindeer Games
Rating: Four Petals
On the Author's Website:
Dashing von Stride has one thing on his mind: winning the window display contest for the Miracle on Main Christmas Contest. His plans are set and ready—and then he walks into his toy store, Reindeer Games, to find a sleigh that shouldn't be there. The mystery sleigh sparks a new plan, however, and now all Dash needs is the perfect Santa to model his display after.
This year, the pranks with his reindeer have gotten out of hand. Instead of preparing for the Big Day, Niklaus Kringle is hunting for his missing sleigh. Locating it should have been easy, but games easily won are seldom worth playing...
I received this book as an ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
A hallmark of a well-written book is whether it elicits an emotional response from a reader. What that means is if I keep my reviews purely analytical, I would be doing myself and anyone who reads these reviews a disservice. This book tugged on the heartstrings with every well-crafted sentence, which is why Reindeer Games received four petals instead of three.
I found myself unconsciously smiling the entire time I was reading this story. It was that adorable and that much fun. I do have to admit I rolled my eyes at the fact that the main character was called Dashing von Stride, but the cheesy name fit with the tone of the rest of the story. It was a sugary sweet, everyone is on Santa's good list, fun ride on the sleigh.
That said, there were a few issues. The plot kept jumping around. It felt like there were a number of different plot ideas Cade attempted to weave together, but was never able to fully realize them. First the story focused on the contest the town holds over the best Christmas-themed window display, but that plot was completed as only an afterthought in the epilogue. Then the plot was about Dash's mean, cheating neighbor, whose conclusion was also relegated to a short mention in the epilogue. The plot subsequently moved on to Dash's absent family and how the von Strides were important elves, but that idea is never fully expanded. We learn why Dashing was left in the town, but even though the mystery of what happened to the rest of the von Stride family is brought up multiple times, it was forgotten entirely by the end of the story. It didn't even get a mention in the epilogue. I would say it's an excellent set up for a sequel, but I don't see any signs Cade is planning to write one.
The one plot that did work was the romance. I enjoy reading insta-love when it's done right and it was done right here. The magic, or fate, that let Dashing and Nik know they were meant to be together was fully explained. This was a short story, so there wasn't a lot of build-up before they jumped in bed, but it was enough for me to believe that, magic or not, they were going to be together for life.
I enjoyed reading this story. The plot was a little sparse at times, but the spirit and joy of the holiday season that filled every page made me willing to overlook any issues. I do recommend this book to those looking for a fun and easy holiday read.
Maggie reviews paranormal and fantasy novels and novellas. She also interviews authors and hosts giveaways.