The Chatsfield Novella Box Set #3
GONNA PUT THIS HERE: Warning! Spoilers in this review.
I’ve been reading a lot of PNR and some UF lately, so I decided to take a breather with a contemp again.
I chose to stick to a quick read: a box set of e-novellas from Harlequin Presents (because nothing says relaxation better than glitz and glamour and sexual tension).
This particular box set is the 3rd and final set of 3 sets of novellas in total. And all 15 novellas (5 per box set) actually build on the world of a 8-book miniseries that released last year from Harlequin called ‘The Chatsfield’ because all the stories revolve around an international hotel chain and the powerful and wealthy family that owns it.
The box set had 5 stories that take place at The Chatsfield, a hotel known for its scandalous going-ons, and considering that I thought it’d be best I approach it by breaking down the review into parts: 5 mini-reviews (lol as if my reviews are long anyways) for the 5 novellas in the box set.*
Let’s start from the beginning then:
New Beginnings at The Chatsfield by Fiona Harper
This first story focuses on Sophie, a jilted bride who decides to use her ex-fiance’s credit card—a gift to plan their wedding—to stay at her dream location for a honeymoon, The Chatsfield. So she goes off on her honeymoon, Carrie Bradshaw-style, with her friends/ex-bridesmaid and tries to convince herself to have a good time.
But she’s having a shitty time. At least until she crashes a wedding and meets Cristian, our Argentinian hero—Cristian was really interesting. Much more than Sophie, who although I sympathized with I found really bland as a character. Cristian wasn’t flashy, and he wasn’t in-your-face Alpha throwing commands at Sophie left and right. It was all quiet control for him, in a non-creepy way.
There’s no sex in this one. And though it was a short story, it definitely had the potential, seeing (err, reading?) the sparks flying everywhere between this couple. Still because I felt that it was WAY too quick, and both Sophie and Cristian didn’t seem the type to want a rebound, I was really happy there wasn’t undercover lovin’…
All in all, the story was totally plausible compared to some of the off-the-top stories in the Harlequin Present line.
(4 scandalous stars)
Bollywood Comes to The Chatsfield by Tara Pammi
Speaking of over-the-top: the plot of this second one was definitely cray-cray as in a once-in-a-lifetime type scenario.
We have heroine Tanya Singh who’s recovering from the loss of her husband 12 months ago, and when her friends and family conspire to get her out there in the world and find some happiness in life (not just love), she meets her Bollywood crush, John Patel.
Crazier she ends up with the guy. I mean, he really wants her. He’s abrasive to Tanya at first because he’s finished settling a divorce and trying to find a way to stay connected to his daughter, but then he learns that Tanya doesn’t have stars in her eyes like most women around him do.
So she’s able to see clearly and then he’s able to see clearly that she’s no threat to him…oh, and that she’s superhot and he wants her.
This one is quick…and there’s sex, but because John is who he is and Tanya has to work out her own situation, get her life going—they decide to take things slowly and THAT is what makes this novella so worth it.
Really, this one had the potential to fall apart and be ridiculously clichéd, but Ms. Pammi made it…believable. And isn’t that what romance (and most fiction) should hold, some shred of reality even with all the glitz and glamour?
(4 scandalous stars)
Bridesmaid with Benefits by Amy Andrews
So this one’s trope revolves around the bridesmaid’s woes. Think Heigl in “27 Dresses”, only not that crazy, and more sex.
The heroine, Johanna Windsor, is a bridesmaid for the third time—and for the third time she’s in a room with Ed Sullivan again, her long time school crush and sorta lover (hence the title). But this time putting her heel down Johanna decides to not hook-up with Ed after the wedding and reception.
Too bad Fate—err, their friends conspire against them and book one room for the two at The Chatsfield where the reception was held.
What Johanna doesn’t know is that Ed wants love and a family someday, too. I liked Ed a lot. He was so carefree when he needed to be and though the novella doesn’t cover his work, I got that sense he had a great balance for work-play in his life—totally the perfect guy. J
Too bad I didn’t like Johanna all too much. She was super whiny and real mean to Ed when he didn’t do anything to her. I mean he even mentions it from his POV just how much of a ballbuster Johanna could be, especially to him ever since their high school years through to law school together.
I really don’t see what he sees in her. And I don’t think that it’s excusable that she used that attitude as a front for her feelings for Ed.
No, Johanna, you can’t devour your cake and have it too.
(3 scandalous stars)
The Sports Star at The Chatsfield by Melanie Milburne
Tbh I forget what the heroine, Alice Hammond works as but I’m pretty sure it’s something “dowdy” (sarcasm) because novella #4 features a girl-next-door type story. Angus Knight is a football star who is out enjoying the night with his teammates at The Chatsfield when he chances upon Alice.
Poor little Alice who’s supposed to be celebrating her birthday with her estranged father, but who now has the company of Angus and her inexperienced-self shies away from the prospect of being courted by the sports star…
Okay, I’ll stop that now.
Cuz I liked Alice and Angus (hehe, Angus, that name always makes me giggle). These two were cute! By far the cutest couple yet in the box set. Again it’s over-the-top, and even though the Alice and Angus do have sex, I still found it believable. A trustworthy story if someone told me they met their significant other this way… But it’s also mindlessly happy.
Because Alice doesn’t want to spend her birthday alone and she deserves fun times with the sexy Angus, just sayin’. (It doesn’t help that the story is written in first-person, making it all the more sad that she’s been stood up by her dad on this day of all days).
Actually I hated that it was written in first-person. I wanted to know what Angus was thinking and Alice was sorta annoying sometimes… She thinks too much, and her thought process was, well let me give an example:
[…] I jerked back in my chair so forcefully it almost toppled over backwards. I gripped the arms to rebalance myself, my heart rate soaring, my cheeks furnace-hot at the thought of everyone in the bar seeing what I was wearing under my off the peg little black dress. I said I was sensible but that doesn’t mean I don’t like sexy underwear. Mind you, I guess there’s not a lot that’s sensible about a hot pink thong, but I hate VPL (visible panty line) so I always wear a thong under this particular dress.
Really frustrating to get through this sort of internal monologue throughout the story. But that’s my own personal taste.
Also it was sorta crazy that she accepted (AND FORGAVE?) her father for marrying her best friend… Oh vey. Gag me with a stick.
(3.5 scandalous stars)
The Real Adam Brightman by Roz Fayrer
Wrapping it up is the final novella, and the oddest of the .
Like if we were playing a game of ‘What doesn’t fit?’ this novella would be it—for two reasons:
Ms. Fayrer’s story delves into the world of Adam Brightman, a New York-based media mogul and well-known playboy who is a canon character in original world of “The Chatsfield” miniseries. A canon character who never got his own tale…until now, though it’s still not fully developed…
Leading me to Reason 2, Adam’s story is not a romance like the other four novellas presented with their non-canon couples. The story is a personal struggle or a prelude to something greater…like a longer novel-length chance at his HEA.
So if you already didn’t figure this out, there is no HEA in this final novella. Adam is spending the anniversary of a past mistake and he’s confronted by the least likely of people, his ex-wife, Talia.
They were supposed to have a baby by now and be one big happy family, but after they lose the baby, Talia and Adam’s relationship falls apart. But Talia is back and she’s engaged to another man, and she helps Adam close their chapter so they can both move on: Talia to her husband (and their pregnancy) and Adam to confront Jessie Loe, a woman who plays an important part in his redemption of said past mistake.
And that’s where the story ends. Adam leaving a message on Jessie’s answering machine/voice mail and that’s that.
Which is why I LOVED this story—totally crazy considering I expected romance all around, not even HEAs but at least HFNs. But the potential in this story is crazy. (It also helps that I love Jessie Loe! Check her out at The Loedown vlogs).
I see so much more for this couple…ahhhh!
Thank God for fanfiction. 😉
(5 scandalous stars)