A December Bride by Denise Hunter ~ Book Review

A December Bride
(A Year of Weddings Novella)
By Denise Hunter
Now Available

What started as a whim turned into an accidental - and very public - engagement. Can Layla and Seth keep up the facade in Chapel Springs this holiday season - for the sake of her career . . . and his heart?
Under normal circumstances, Seth Murphy, the best friend of Layla O'Reilly's ex-fiance would be the last person she'd marry. But the news of their upcoming (and phony) nuptials convinces a big client that Layla may be high-society enough to work for his agency, a coup that would put her fledgling home-staging business on the map. Seth has secretly loved Layla for years, even when she was dating his best friend. Maybe she'll never forgive him for the way he hurt her back then, but he has to try. And Layla is willing to keep up their engagement farce until she's landed her client. For Layla, it's the chance to save her career. But for Seth, it's his last chance to win her heart. A year's worth of novellas from twelve inspirational romance authors. Happily ever after guaranteed.

I'm a sucker for marriage romances and being a Hallmark fan, I love the fake marriage/engagement trope. Couple that with a winter themed sweet romance and I'm hooked! 

I liked the way Seth and Layla interacted. Although I felt that Layla was a bit dim at times in not seeing Seth's interest in her, it helped to keep the conflict going and to see them draw closer to each other. Not to mention it added fuel to their cute back and forth banter. I must say my favorite part was when Murphy swooped in to save Layla in the first chapter. The encounter happened at the wedding and Layla was in a tough spot seeing her ex get married (to her snooty, plastic and self centered cousin worthy of any slap-worthy Hallmark villainess), so in order to save face Murphy takes Layla as a fake fiancee to save face. Layla is quick to end the story as she must keep the facade up but when a chance to make a big impact for her career presents herself, she asks Murphy (much to his excitement) to keep the facade up until she can nail the job.

While on the subject of Murphy, I love this character! He was sweet, caring and he would do anything for Layla even if it meant putting his own reputation on the line. Although he's not a stereotypical alpha (thank goodness, we need more sweet betas in romance) he was drawn in such a way that  I couldn't help cheering for him to get the girl. I also loved Ms. Hunters description of him being a strong, fit guy with a gentle heart. Swoon! 

The inspirational aspects were low key but there. For Christian romance fans, it delivers everything they are looking for in a short fiction format. Don't let the novella length fool you, there's a sweet and satisfying romance story between these pages and if you're a reader like me with a short amount of time on her hands, this one is a perfect sweet story you can finish in between things on your to do list. 

I'm looking forward to reading more of the stories in the series!

This is part of Zondervan's A Year of Weddings series which is described as thus:

Happily ever after begins today. The honor of your presence is requested at a December wedding.
Every couple has a love story. Join us for a year of contemporary, seasonal wedding novellas, releasing in e-book every month. Each e-novella will include an excerpt from another wedding story in the Year of Weddings Collection as well as a list of the author’s full-length novels.