Short Stories 366:338 — “A Second Chance Road-Trip for Christmas,” by Jackie Lau

coverOne of the best things about romance, in my opinion, is the tropes. They’re wonderful little frameworks upon which romance authors spin wonderful stories about relationships and characters, and add to that happy-ever-after or happy-for-now promise while letting you know some of the flavour of what you’re in for. I bumped into A Second Chance Road-Trip for Christmas last year, and it takes the second-chance trope, pairs it up with the holiday setting, and tosses in a forced-proximity spark to set things going, and it does exactly what it sets out to do with complete charm.

Greg Wong and Tasha Edwards were high school sweethearts and their relationship back then was strong. It only really ended because they were leaving for university and they didn’t think they could keep things going hours apart in different cities. Now, somewhat rigid Greg and far-more-relaxed-and-spontaneous Tasha end up in the same car, heading back to their little home town of Mosquito Bay for the holidays, and despite Tasha swearing off every moving backwards (and going back to a former ex is definitely moving backwards, to her mind) and Greg finding comfort in order and Tasha begins their trip by being twenty-odd minutes late, the two are definitely still sparking.

Sparks turn to real—and needed—heat when they end up stranded in a hotel with no heat nor power (and only one bed), but can two people with very different outlooks on life and a failed relationship in the past give it another shot and have it work? Well, this is romance, so of course they can, but it’s the journey that’s the joy as much as the destination, and I loved how Lau made their personalities and experiences lead to the will-they-won’t-they? rather than a miscommunication or outside forces.

When I reached out to Jackie Lau about the first book in the series, A Match Made for Thanksgiving, she was kind enough to give me little “where did it come from?” notes for all four. To whit:

I wrote a Christmas novella with the “there’s only one bed” trope in 2018, and decided to make it a yearly tradition, so this is my second “there’s only one bed” Christmas novella! Also features some very Canadian treats: Coffee Crisp and Timbits, to go along with the butter tarts and Nanaimo bars in the first book in the series. The hero and heroine are both engineers, inspired by the fact that my degree is in engineering.

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