Jace Morgan and Suzanna York had been teenage lovers ten years ago. In spite of their surprisingly deep relationship, they parted ways after high school to each pursue their respective dreams, with a promise to remain friends and keep in touch, but unfortunately that never happened. Now Jace is back in Rogues Hollow to wrap up loose ends after the death of his father, and Suzanna's mother asks him to pick Zan up at the train station to bring her home for Christmas. The flames of unrequited love flare the minute they see each other again, and when it looks like it may be too dangerous to make the two hour drive home to the Hollow, Jace and Zan decide to take a room at the local hotel. Ten years of pent up desire makes it impossible for them to keep their hands off each other, but will the hurt and resentment that also festered during those years make them regret their actions in the morning?
Baby, It's Cold Outside centered around one of my all-time favorite romance themes, the reunion, but in spite of that, it still fell pretty flat for me. I like introspective characters, but the first two chapters of this story were almost entirely nothing but a running commentary of what each one was thinking. I realized that the author was attempting to do some character development by giving the reader background information and establishing that Jace and Suzanna still had deep feelings for one another even after ten years apart, but in my opinion, this wasn't the best way to go about it. Once the two characters started having some dialog, it was a little better, but then their conversations were so frequently punctuated with more internal ruminations that I often lost track of what they were talking about.
The steam level of the story was pretty good and could have been great if the author had kept a steady flow going in the narrative of the love scene. As it was written though, it seemed like the hero and heroine couldn't decide if they wanted to make love or talk out their problems, so the scene went on for about three whole chapters. I think it would have been better if they had talked first and made love later, because they started and stopped so many times, I was beginning to get frustrated. I also thought the reasons that Jace and Zan had parted company ten years before and never sought each other out when it became clear that they were still hopelessly in love were for the most part rather weak and mainly a result of pride on both their parts. Overall, this wasn't a truly bad novella, but there were just too many parts that felt forced for it to be truly good. Ultimately, it did not hold my attention very well at all.
Baby, It's Cold Outside is the first story in the Men of Rogues Hollow series in which each book or novella revolves around one of the Morgan brothers. Jace's other three brothers were mentioned in passing, but no carry-over characters actually appeared which gives me the feeling that each volume may stand fairly well on its own. The remaining stories in the series are Exposed (from Bad Boys Next Exit), Catch Me if You Can, and Making Waves (from Merry Christmas, Baby). This was also my first read by Donna Kauffman, and even though she didn't wow me this time, I may continue the series at some point and will keep an open mind about reading other works by her in the future. Baby, It's Cold Outside is found in the Jingle Bell Rock anthology.
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