“The Invitation” (2021)

by Jasmine Luck
in Christmas Romance Digest 2021: Home For The Holidays
Edited by: Tracy Cooper-Posey
Publication: October 28, 2021

**I received a copy from the author. I voluntarily read and reviewed it. All opinions are my own.**

Zara Yung comes home for Christmas only to have to first take her Aunt Mary to the emergency room. Sparks fly between the Zara and attending doctor Cal. The holiday ends up being a time to spend with more than just family as a meddling Aunt Mary takes the reins on ensuring those sparks ignite.

I read “The Invitation” last month but didn’t get a chance to post a review. I couldn’t help but reread it to retain the spirit of the holidays as long as possible and to dwell on the fluttery feelings the story evokes. Oh, the butterflies of meeting someone new and that instant attraction. Sigh…

Luck provides a wonderful moment in time and doesn’t rush that happy ending. It was the right pace to create a growing attraction between Zara and Cal rather than feeling like instalove. I was also left swooning over Cal, so let me give you a glimpse of him so you can run to grab the book too:

  • “His angular face, warm eyes and scruffy jaw made him the perfect, knock-out combo of refined gentleman and the naughty bad boy mothers warned daughters about.”
  • “The baritone rasp made her shiver with awareness and wonder how other, more intimate words would sound in that voice.” 

I adore strong, positive family bonds, and it’s immediately apparent how much Aunt Mary loves Zara. It never fails to make me chuckle when adults meddle, especially when their efforts are less than subtle. Luck has managed to warm my heart with all the positive familial bonds written into her work ,and I hope it remains a staple.

As with any well-written story, I was satisfied with the ending but also wished it could continue. Through Zara and Cal I got to experience the flutter of connecting with someone new, and the Cheng family dinner captured the comfort of coming home for the holidays. This is one I will read again when a longing for the season starts stirring.

I read the rest of the anthology since I enjoyed “The Invitation” so much. It was perfect for the holidays. As with just about any anthology, there are hits and misses. I’ll just briefly highlight the ones I enjoyed nearly as much as “The Invitation.” I appreciated that the stories in the anthology were all standalones–at least to the best of my knowledge they were not connected to any existing series

  • “Just in Time for Christmas” by Lea Storry
    Tamzin returns home to Canada for the holiday but has to quarantine for 14 days before she can spend time with her family. Unexpectedly, she meets someone from her past.

    Tamzin is pretty grouchy at first but I love how she gradually softens up to Keiran, her friend’s younger brother. Keiran just keeps returning to spend time with her and it made me smile. This one also made me fluttery.
  • “The Reunion” by Annie Reed
    In the middle of a transition in her life, Jeannie attends her 24th reunion.

    Yup, this one gave me butterflies too. It has the added benefit of providing two points of view, that of Jeannie and her potential love interest Raymond. Despite having dual narrators, things didn’t feel rushed and I liked experiencing the sparks from both characters.

“The Invitation,” “Just in Time for Christmas,” and “The Reunion” are my three favorite reads in the anthology. They’re all similar in not rushing the happily ever after/happy for now ending, making each easily believable. There is a lot of information provided about the main characters, but it never felt overwhelming. Can returning home always feel like these stories made me feel?

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