Rating: 3.5 stars
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Ethan Baxter is having a rotten holiday season. He was supposed to go on an extended vacation to visit with his children, but that vacation was abruptly cancelled by his brutish and unfeeling boss, Max Cullen. Not only did Max take a job that should have been Ethan’s, but he doesn’t seem to care about the fact his employees actually have lives outside the office. Ethan would quit, but he knows the money is good and he can endure Max’s behavior to secure a good future for his kids. Now, however, Ethan is stuck in a cabin during a snowstorm with the man he hates the most.
Max knows what Ethan thinks of him — hell, what everyone thinks of him — and he tells himself he doesn’t care. He learned to be aloof and cold in order to survive, but when he offers to drive Ethan through a blizzard to start his belated vacation, the olive branch is genuine. Max doesn’t plan on getting stranded. Now, two men who are supposed to hate one another have nothing but time on their hands…
Yours to be Forgiven is the start of the Long Way Home series, though each book appears to focus on different couples. It’s a rocky romance that leans too heavily on the “getting stranded” trope and never really rises above it.
Ethan and Max are fine as characters, though I never really connected with either. They had strong individual profiles and I appreciated that they weren’t completely consumed by one another when they became a couple. My issue is that the whole set up was too close to insta-love for my taste. The switch from enemies to lovers was ridiculously quick and lacked credibility. It ended up undermining most of the book and left me wishing for a lot more substance and a lot less melodrama.
Most of the plot ends up reading as a soap opera, one that leans too heavily on chance and circumstance and doesn’t ending up resolving what it needs to. The pacing is generally on point, so things move evenly enough, but I felt given the complexity of both Max and Ethan’s professional and private lives, there needed to be more fleshing out of the story and its primary relationship.
Yours to be Forgiven isn’t terrible, but it didn’t fullyl work for me. I usually enjoy the “stranded at the holidays” tropes, but this one failed to truly develop the romance between Max and Ethan and ended up being more overwrought that necessary. All of that said, I think if you’re fond of holiday stories then you may want to give this one a try. It will likely appeal to a lot of readers, even if I wasn’t one of them.