Hannah Davis is a small-town schoolteacher who has decided to treat herself to a vacation in Coronado, California. During the past year, she discovered that her fiance, who she had waited on for four years, had married someone else and hadn't bothered to even break up with her first. The humiliation Hannah feels, especially since the whole town knows about it, has driven her to seek a well-deserved adventure away from her Northern California home. Her motives for travel though, aren't exclusive to having some fun in the sun, as she also has intentions of confronting "the other woman". Hannah's Uncle Geoff, a Secret Service agent, has arranged for his former employee and Coronado native, Tanner Hart, to escort his niece around town as something of a test to determine Tanner's readiness to return to the agency.
Tanner is a former Secret Service agent whose life was turned upside down nearly a year before when he was acting as a bodyguard for the lovely Princess Desiree al-Maddah. Lonely and seeking attention, the princess had kissed Tanner in front of the paparazzi cameras at a party, while outside an assassination attempt was being made against her father. The incident lead to the death of one agent and the critical wounding of another, causing a worldwide scandal and making Tanner a virtual celebrity overnight. He voluntarily left the agency not only to find some peace and quiet from the media attention, but also to come to terms with his role in everything that happened. With the anniversary of the event fast approaching, Tanner is feeling rather moody, and Hannah may be just the thing he needs to distract him.
When Hannah arrives at the San Diego airport on New Year's Eve, she is promptly robbed of all her luggage and her purse. Having no ID and nowhere to go and only the small amount of money that she had stashed in her bra, Hannah takes a cab to the bar where Uncle Geoff had set up a meeting with Tanner for the next morning. She hopes that perhaps she'll be able to find him there early, and he will be able to assist her. Upon arriving at the bar, Hannah is literally swept off her feet by a pair of handsome twins who are coming out the door. When she looks up from her position where she had fallen on the floor, her gaze is immediately drawn across the room to the handsomest man she has ever seen. She figures that this guy is way out the league of a prim-looking schoolteacher, but the twins seem more than happy to buy her drinks and keep her company. Hannah is rather flattered until the twins admit that they initially thought that she was someone named Desiree. She returns from a trip to the ladies' room to find that the two young men seem to have deserted her just as the count-down to midnight has begun. Feeling exceptionally woozy from all the drinks she had, Hannah stumbles across the room and right into the lap of the impossibly handsome stranger.
One thing leads to another, and before long, Hannah finds herself doing something she's never done before - propositioning him. She thinks that a vacation fling may be just the thing she needs to get her ex-fiance out of her system, and she had wanted an adventure. The last thing she would have guessed though, is that the man she woke up next to on New Year's Day would turn out to be Tanner Hart. When Tanner discovers Hannah's true identity, he figures his goose is cooked with Uncle Geoff, as protecting Hannah had been his opportunity to prove himself ready to return to duty with the Secret Service. He decides that simply staying away from her is the best way to protect her, but fate intervenes at almost every turn to keep bringing them back together. In the meantime, Hannah is befriended by the real Desiree, who unbeknownst to anyone is being stalked by the same assassins who threatened her father's life the previous year. As Tanner and Hannah alternately fight and then give in to their powerful attraction, Hannah finds herself with the uneasy feeling of being stalked, for it seems that being Desiree's doppelganger may have placed her in harm's way as well. In addition, Hannah is still on a mission to find and confront the woman her fiance left her for, which leads to some surprising revelations about her past relationship.
In Not Another New Year's, Christie Ridgway has created an enjoyable story, that is basically a two-for-one romance, with a likable cast of flawed characters. Tanner Hart and Hannah Davis, the primary hero and heroine of the story are basically two ordinary people who unfortunately had some unusual things happen to them. They are basically two peas in a pod with a great deal in common. Both have put high expectations on themselves due in part to family dynamics. After Hannah's sister died, she had somehow felt a responsibility to the family to more or less take her place and accomplish the things that she likely would have done if she had lived. Tanner felt that he just didn't quite measure up to his war hero brothers. Of course, both ended up feeling like they had let their families down. What I really liked about their relationship was that they helped each other to discover that the things they had believed about themselves simply weren't true. As individuals, I was pleased to see both Tanner and Hannah grow and change, so that they could move beyond the pain of the past and into a promising future.
I really enjoyed the secondary romance between Tanner's brother, Troy and Desiree. They simply stood out to me more than Tanner and Hannah, not because he was a war hero and she was a princess, but because I felt that they showed more vulnerability. They had to reach further outside their comfort zones in order to allow their relationship to happen, and realize their hearts desires. Also, theirs was not a love-at-first-sight romance like Tanner and Hannah's. While I am not fundamentally opposed to these types of romances, I usually have a harder time finding them to be believable. I think it is a staple in many romance plots that is overused and would lead one to believe that this phenomenon happens in real life far more often than it probably does. I just seem to have a preference for romances that either take time to develop the feelings between the protagonists or in which they have had some previous relationship. Troy and Desiree had know each other for nearly a year, and had obviously been attracted to each other for a long time, even though they had spent the better part of that time at each other's throats. Normally, I don't care for romances in which the characters bicker all the time, but there was something about Troy and Dezi's arguing that was rather endearing. I was just waiting for the fireworks to go off and when they did, I was not disappointed. While I liked these two characters a great deal and found them to be very strong, I did not necessarily think that their scenes overshadowed Tanner and Hannah's. I only found myself wishing to see more of them or that they had gotten their own book instead. The only part of their story that I thought fell short was that they didn't exactly get a solid ending, but I still loved reading about them anyway.
While I was able to appreciate the characters and the overall story, I thought that there were a few plot weaknesses. Once I realized that Hannah's Uncle Geoff actually lived in San Diego, I couldn't quite figure out why he hadn't taken care of her personally while she was on vacation in the area instead of setting her up with Tanner as her "tour guide". Of course, without this part of the plot, there wouldn't have been a story, but I just think that the overall story would have been a bit stronger if this part had been shored up, perhaps by the author giving more reasons for Uncle Geoff's choice. Also, after reading two of Christie Ridgway's books, I'm beginning to think that she has a penchant for ambiguous endings. I have a preference for strong happily-ever-after endings, and though the ending of this story was happy, I felt that it left too many unanswered questions. One other aspect of the story that bothered me was that the first time Tanner and Hannah nearly had sex they were still strangers and had given each other fake names. I know that this can be an all-to-common occurrence in today's society, but I still prefer that the main characters in my romances be in love before they fall into bed. As the days began to pass, I could sense them beginning to fall in love with each other, yet it wasn't entirely convincing because as mentioned above, I'm not a huge fan of the love-at-first-sight scenario. Even setting aside my own preferences on this, when Tanner and Hannah did finally make love, they had only know each other for a few days and in spite of their growing feelings were still basically considering this to be a vacation fling. Even with this in mind, they did not entirely practice safe sex. While some loves scenes involved condoms, others involved risk-taking and without any mature conversation about said risks. In spite of this flaw though, I thought that the love scenes overall were at least tender, steamy and generally well-written. Finally, one other minor annoyance I found was Ms. Ridgway's use of parenthetical phrases as an exception or aside to a particular character's main line of thinking. While some of them were rather witty, I simply felt that they were a bit overused.
There were a couple of positive things that I didn't already mention that I also thought were noteworthy. I enjoyed the bit of danger and intrigue surrounding Dezi. It helped to make the story more full and interesting as well as drawing all four of the main characters into a mild action plot. I also liked Tanner and Troy's parents. Although they were only in one scene, they made an impression on me, and I would have liked to have seen more of them. While I have not seen an official series designation, Not Another New Year's is a sequel to Must Love Mistletoe. Tanner and Troy Hart and Desiree al-Maddah all made their first appearance in Must Love Mistletoe. Also, Finn and Bailey, the hero and heroine of Must Love Mistletoe, made a brief appearance (Bailey twice) in Not Another New Year's. I must say that I was pleased to see some of the ambiguity surrounding the end of their own story cleared up during their scenes in this book. In spite of the cross-over characters, both stories could be read independently without really getting any major spoilers. In addition, the backstory on the assassination attempt which was introduced in Must Love Mistletoe is recounted in Not Another New Year's only now more from Tanner's point of view rather than Finn's. Overall, I found Not Another New Year's to be a pleasant and generally lighthearted story that was an easy read. I would be open to reading other books by Ms. Ridgway in the future, when I am in the mood for this type of story.
The Hope Chest Reviews on Facebook