When an uptight nerd is forced to spend her holiday vacation with a cocky jock...well, let's just say Christmas at the beach has never been so hot.With early acceptance to Harvard under her belt and graduation just months away, life is good for Maya Rivero. She's ready to celebrate Christmas in Mexico with her mother, like every year, leaving behind the Briarwood classmates who've never understood her. She can't wait to say adios to Luke Perona, in particular. Archnemesis, captain of the swim team, and all-around arrogant jerk, he's become more of a nuisance than ever now that her mom has befriended Luke's newly divorced mother. They've become such good friends, in fact, that Maya's mother feels compelled to invite the entire Perona family to join them on vacation. Including Luke. Her vacation is ruined with one fateful invite. But when these two polar opposites are forced to spend time together outside the confines of Briarwood High, the truth becomes startlingly clear. They have more in common than they'd thought. In fact...these long-time rivals might even like each other. And it only takes one major holiday, two meddling mothers, and an epic holiday kiss to make them see it.Each Briarwood High novel is a completely standalone romance and they can be read in any order.
Perfect Getaway Really enjoyed this follow on in the series. Story was sweet and fell in love with the characters, Maggie writes a hell of a love story. Always left wanting more and.not disappointed.
So far my favourite book in the series! <3 (... although, to be fair, book #3 is still on my TBR pile...) The Holiday Kiss is a wonderful - and beautifully written - addition to the series, giving me all the warm fuzzies. :) Maya is a very special heroine I totally fell in love with, and Luke, the not-quite-typical jock, is her perfect counterpart. I thoroughly enjoyed those two getting to know each other and discovering the person behind the respective stereotype. Since most of the story takes place over the Christmas holidays / vacation, we also get to meet Maya and Luke's families, with Maya's mom definitely being one of my favourite supporting characters.
G-rated, YA romantic comedy Maya Rivero attends a prestigious, private prep school, Briarwood High. She is one of the top students in her class, and more than that, she is that comparatively rare female who specializes in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) studies. She has been early-accepted to Harvard and cannot wait to leave high school behind less than six months from now. The social life on offer in high school bores her because it is filled with mindless pursuits such as sporting events, booze parties, and a swirling cesspool of teenage angst precipitated by a neverending parade of romantic relationships that are unthinkingly formed and melodramatically broken. Unlike her overemotional peers, Maya has chosen a rational approach to romance. During her freshman year, she met a boy whom she dispassionately determined would be a good match for her because they share the same interests. They mutually agreed on a practical relationship with little romance and no passion involved (which is why Maya is still a virgin). After three mildly pleasurable years together, last summer they placed their relationship on indefinate hiatus because Brandon is a year older and away at college. They have mutually decided that they may, or may not, choose to resume dating when she is in college too, if it doesn't interfere with their studies. Maya's fellow senior, Luke Perona, is a tall, handsome, well-built athelete with an outgoing personality and, unsurprisingly due to these traits, is quite popular. Trading on that popularity, he has a history of casually dating a string of eager girls throughout his high school career and has had sex with what he terms, "his share" of them. There are multiple girls with whom he currently "hooks up with on and off" who, conveniently for Luke, seem to be as uncomplainingly satisfied as he is with meaningless sexual encounters. Maya has never forgiven Luke for leading his buddies in incessantly teasing her throughout middle school and junior high. But today, due to his obsession with competing at every turn, he has transformed himself from merely an irritating jerk into an arch nemesis. As the entitled, charming and verbally persuasive captain of the school's swim team, Luke has beaten her out for a grant she had hoped would be used to provide much needed funding for STEM programs at Briarwood. Instead, Luke has coaxed the grant committee into using it to pad the bottom line of the school's already more-than-adequately funded, championship swim team. In short, in every way that sensible, self-contained Maya can imagine, she and the impulsive, intrusive Luke are dead opposites. Until Maya's mother discovers the one thing Maya and Luke do have in common--the fact that their mothers are both divorced--and turns that knowledge into a second, disastrous thing that she and Luke have in common. Their mothers become friends. Maya's mother is an outgoing, compassionate woman with a huge soft spot for fellow divorced single mothers, but her befriending of Luke's recently divorced mother, Patty, runs far deeper than her usual, casually nurturing support of her sister divorcees. They become best friends. Maya would not have begrudged her mother an important friendship if her mother and Patty had kept their friendship to themselves. Instead, her lovably gregarious mother invites both Patty and her children, including Luke as well as his two little brothers, to their home for one of her mother's "famous" taco nights, as she playfully calls them. Maya doesn't mind the little boys, who are quite sweet, but Luke is the last person she wants to associate with. She's barely begun to accept that nights like these might become a regular event when, out of the blue, her mother makes the situation disastrously worse. Without consulting Maya, and without telling her until the very day it happens, her mother has invited Patty and her kids--once again, including Luke!--to join Maya and her mother for their annual Christmas trip. It has been their tradition for many years at Christmas to spend a quiet, restful week at a small, cozy, beachside resort in Puerto Escondido, Mexico. It is very near where Maya's mother grew up, though she no longer has any family living there. Maya's first indication of this debacle is when Patty and her boys join them at the airport, and Luke greets her with a smugly cheery grin. I have recently read several of Maggie Dallen's young adult (YA) novels. I have enjoyed them all and have been delighted to find her novels, because she writes what is, sadly, relatively rare in the YA genre, G-rated romantic comedies. Ms. Dallen also writes adult romance novels, and I am happy to report that she uses the two, main, expected conventions of romance plots found in that genre in her YA romances: once the two people who are the subject of the romance meet, there is no cheating, and there is a believable happily ever after (HEA). I don't personally like romantic triangles if they present a true dilemma, that is, a choice between two almost equally viable, enthralling possibilities (we have Twilight to thank for the prevalence of this in YA). It might seem on the surface that this book has a romantic triangle, but it is not a true triangle, because there is no real dilemma. Though Maya technically has a boyfriend, it is apparent from the start that they aren't really together and have made no vows of fidelity. Further, their relationship sounds more like a business deal than a romance. Thus, this is what I personally see as a false triangle. It merely exists as a means for the heroine to grow beyond the very limited perspective she previously had of what constitutes a healthy, happy romance and move toward something far deeper. In a classic romance plot of "enemies to lovers," which in this G-rated version is "enemies to romance," when done well, as is the case in this novel, the plot contains a staple of excellent character-driven fiction, a solid growth arc for both the romantic protagonists. They each have to evolve beyond their socially created "false self," in this case the cliche Nerd and Jock roles, to a deeper, unique, "true self." This process allows them to earn the fulfillment of True Love. This path is the ideal every romance novel, by definition, hopes to deliver, but very few actually do. One of the reasons I tend to look for G-rated or "sweet" romances without overt sex is that far too many romance writers fill their books with sex at the expense of creating a believable emotional connection between the romantic protagonists that contains tenderness, understanding and a true connection of the mind and heart. When the lion's share of the book's focus is on lust and body parts, sexual obsession is inevitably presented as if it is romantic love. At the other end of the spectrum, in G-rated novels, if romance authors are not skilled at developing the emotional and mental connection between the romantic protagonists, especially when the book is billed as "romantic comedy," such books become more chick lit than romance, because they are overloaded with embarrassing, slapstick scenes to make up for the missing sex. This book makes none of those mistakes. The prime goal of a truly excellent romance is to put the two protagonists on the stage together as much as possible--and this book does that a whole lot--and allow them to interact with each other, fighting it out in a specific way. Their personality differences, especially their flaws, become rough stones rubbing away the harsh, false edges in order to reveal the smooth and delicately vulnerable, hidden, true self. That true self has suffered pain from past rejection, and it resists trusting due to fear of present and future rejection. Even so, it longs to connect in a profound and loving way. This romance ideal is what the author achieves with these two protagonists. Both Maya and Luke start out with irritating flaws, but as their virtues begin to be slowly and surely revealed within their amusing, and often moving, interactions on the beach in Mexico, they become very sympathetic, likeable protagonists whom I enjoyed spending time with. It is also a big plus for me personally to read a YA novel in which the teenage, Mexican-American protagonist is portrayed as an intelligent, responsible, ambitious girl, rather than a teenage male who is an Alpha, macho guy who is, at the least, in trouble with the law, if not an outright gangbanger. Now I'd very much like to see Maya's male counterpart in a YA novel. I also appreciated it that Maya and her mother are both presented as bilingual (a huge accomplishment for anyone to achieve), and that they are justly proud of their heritage. On the downside, as a personal complaint, it is a huge cliche that has been epidemic in romance novels for the past 40 years, such that most romance authors include it automatically, to describe the gorgeous, desirable romantic hero as having gotten his "share" of sex in the years prior to meeting the heroine. The actual meaning of this appalling term is that the hero regards fellow human beings as objects and possessions to be used at will for his own selfish, sexual gratification. Romance authors include this trope to give the hero enough sexual experience to supposedly make it believable that he is fabulous in bed. But how does a man become a sensitive lover when he has dehumanized his sexual partners? Secondly, romance authors disguise this seamy underside of the promiscuity of their heroes by portraying them as firmly believing they have never harmed any of their conquests because the women they use sexually "know the score." That they accept freely, with no reservations, that they are nothing but warm bodies to the hero before he abandons them and flits merrily away to his next conquest. It is no better ethically that in the past 15 years or so, many romance authors have made their female protagonists equal opportunity sexual users. The truth is, there is no such thing as anyone (unless drunk or stoned and unable to truly give consent, or extremely emotionally or mentally damaged) who "knows the score," that they are nothing but a vessel to be used to slake the lust of fellow human beings who arrogantly and callously believe they are owed sex on demand as a social perk of their beauty and/or wealth. It also is rather unrealistic that a prestigious, private prep school, like the fictional Briarwood High of this YA series of books, would contain the teen-movie cliche of "jocks vs nerds" (sexy-and-dumb vs sexless-and-smart) civil war which, if it exists at all, would be far more believable in a public high school. The whole point of paying the astronomical tuition of a private prep school is to improve one's chance of not only getting into a university, but an Ivy League university at that. This challenging goal cannot be achieved by being cavalier about one's studies. Therefore, virtually everyone at a prep school is, by virtue of the very fact of their acceptance into the school, a "nerd," if that derrogatory term is defined as taking one's studies seriously. Parental Guidance: No sex, only kissing. No drinking, drugs or wild parties. Only slightly PG in the sense that the hero muses about the fact that he has been sexually promiscuous in his past life, before he becomes involved with the heroine. I rate this book as follows: Heroine: 4 stars Hero: 4 stars Subcharacters: 4 stars Unusual setting: 5 stars Romance Plot: 4 stars Writing: 4 stars Overall: 4 stars
Shaky start, satisfying end 4.5 stars — Wow, I think Ms. Dallen has a formula. As with The Candy Cane Kiss, I was dismayed with the attitude and inner thoughts of Luke at the beginning of this story. He was…not nice. He was seriously insensitive (probably from being a bit self-involved), and hence a bit of a bully and a douchebag. It’s like, I get what Ms. Dallen is trying to do with these characters, make them realistic teenagers subject to cliques and all the harshness of high school…but I kind of hated that there wasn’t really much of a glimmer of more to him in those moments…it made the transition feel rushed, and I had a hard time buying it. Though obviously I did in the end. In the end I honestly don’t understand how this author sucks me in and has me completely wrapped up in the story with that kind of beginning…but I was!! I was soooo invested. I think it’s because Luke truly does confront his mean aspects and the consequences of the things that he (and his friends) say and do. And he really does think about it. I mean, sure, the only reason he gives it a chance is because he sees a different version of Maya and he’s attracted…but he gets there all the same. He pursues it because he’s confused by it and he wants to understand her and her experiences. That was genuine. And then there’s Maya! Wow, what an interesting character. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s on the autism spectrum, what with her difficulty dealing with emotions and connecting with others. I kind of loved the fact that we really got to see into her brain, and how she saw the world and interpreted it. I loved seeing how her cold persona was a result of not wanting to deal with strong emotions, and thus closing herself. Fascinating (especially for a girl who is the exact opposite, and totally overly emotional). I really loved the way their relationship evolved…and how they managed to connect with one another through all that hostility, because of being forced together (sort of). I really felt their chemistry, and I loved hearing about how it was more than just physical (kissing), and how they started to get to know one another and what made the other one tick. Part of me wouldn’t have minded if we’d also gotten to see a bit more of the reactions of the kids at school to this new development. Did Luke just ditch his friends, or did he win them over? But yeah…other than a shaky start, I really ended up loving this one. I think I’ll just have to keep Ms. Allen’s style in mind for future books so that I make sure I keep reading even if I’m worried about a character. It’s not ideal, but I’ll take it.
Wonderful YA Love Story! OMG I loved this latest Maggie Dallen gem!!! I soooooo loathed Luke at the book's opening and I thought, "C'mon, Dallen, make me love him"-- and sure enough, she did!!! I mean, this book is amazing in how it develops the two leads. Luke comes off as an arrogant jerk in the first chapter from Maya's POV. Then, in the second chapter from Luke's POV - yep - he's an arrogant jerk, all right! But then Dallen weaves her magic, thread by beautiful thread. Watching these two open up to each other is just so awesome. What a good book!
Good wholesome book about 2 teenagers who are the complete ... Good wholesome book about 2 teenagers who are the complete opposites. Maya is a geek and socially awkward and Luke is a popular jock. On top of being polar opposites, they totally dislike each other! When Maya's mom befriends Luke's mom after her divorce, she invites them to go on their Christmas vacation to Mexico with them - much to Maya and Luke's dismay! However, once in Mexico, they discover that the other is not really how they portray themselves back at school and soon things go from cold to hot really fast, but can their new found friendship/relationship withstand the pressures of high school? Good clean read!
Charming story Such a cute, charming story about a nerd and a jock and how sometimes opposites really do attract. Maya Rivero’s course is set. After she gets out of the h*ll she calls high school, she’s on to Harvard. She’s had it rough at her private school. As a nerd, she’s been picked on, talked about, sneered at. One of the ring leaders is none other than captain of the swim team, Luke Perona. He’s the main man, every boy wants to be his friend and every girl wants to be with him, even though he doesn’t do girlfriends. After clashing about how some school funds should be used, Maya finds out that her mom has betrayed her. She’s invited her new friend and her sons on their annual Christmas trip to Mexico. Yup, Maya’s mom has invited Luke, his younger brothers, and their mother to get away for Christmas. The writing is so good, you get drawn into their lives. I was surprised because I am well beyond high school, for heaven’s sake, I’m almost 50, but the writing pulled me. The characters are well written. There are some one-dimensional aspects to the characters, and that’s the reason for my 4-star review instead of 5 stars. This is the first book I’ve read by this author and I was impressed. I will have to check out her other stories. This story is part of a series, but I didn’t feel like I was missing anything by not having read the other books first.
The Holiday Kiss This is a really good opposites attract teen romance story. I enjoyed reading of their adventures on vacation and having unexpected fun together. The moms were great, too. Family is so important.
This book is totally AWESOME!!! I love this book! I totally recommend it! Maggie Dallen is one of my favourite authors. This book is filled with surprises to make you gasp and romance to make you swoon! Thank you so much Maggie Dallen for writing this amazing book!👍
Sweet clean romance I loved the his and hers POV writing style. Clean teen romance. Funny male thoughts that make me chuckle. Neat freak girl that is made relatable even though she's considered 'odd'. Loved it.
Rating : 4.3 of 353 Reviewers
Rating : 4.6 of 180 Reviewers
Rating : 4.7 of 280 Reviewers