Josh Black and Cassidy St. George have been best friends and in love with each other for fifteen years, but both are afraid to confess their feelings for fear of loosing their precious friendship. Josh, a cartoon artist, has finally decided to take the plunge, but has been working his way up to telling Cassidy by having Jack, his comic strip alter-ego, fall in love with his friend, Kristen. What Josh doesn't know is that Cassidy has seen the strip, and unfortunately thinks that Josh has fallen for someone else and is spending one last Christmas with her before ending their friendship. With a little help from a Christmas wish note that Josh finds in Cassidy's stocking, perhaps they will finally be able to reveal their true feelings and have the most unforgettable holiday ever.
The stories in the Merry Christmas, Baby anthology in which this novella is found are so short that I went into reading it with the attitude that they would probably be OK reads, but I wasn't really expecting anything spectacular. Well, Erin McCarthy quickly disabused me of that notion with her novella, You, Actually, that has become the first short story to which I have ever awarded 5-star keeper status. I absolutely loved this little gem about two best friends who are finally able to reveal their long-held feelings for one another and share the best Christmas present of all. Ms. McCarthy definitely has a knack for creating a beautiful love scene. A fur throw "under" the Christmas tree, jingle-bell panties (cute), and a sexy game of Twister all made for a story that was incredibly steamy and sensual, but was infused with just the right amount of tender emotion and light humor to also make it sweet. I loved Josh and Cassidy's Christmas Eve tradition of watching It's a Wonderful Life, which is one of my own traditions. There was just enough back-story given on Josh and Cassidy for me to feel a connection to them, and although I liked the characters so well, I could have read a full-length novel about them, I didn't come away from the story feeling like it was too short. All in all, You, Actually was a perfect first read for me by Erin McCarthy, and if she writes like this all the time, I can't wait to dive into her back-list.
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