Monday, October 2, 2023

Book Review: Unleashed Holiday

By Sara Steven

Chelsea Higgins is doing just fine. She’s heading into the holidays at the helm of a thriving dog training business, and she’s got a mellow senior dog at home to keep her warm at the end of the day. What more could she need? Enter certified gym bro Andrew Chelsea’s former nemesis, and now the newest neighbor in her business complex, who also wants to expand into the vacant space Chelsea’s been eyeing for months. Who cares if it’s the season of joy? Let the turf war begin.

When an unfortunate (and literal) run-in with Andrew’s lawless dog leaves Chelsea with a bum wrist, the two strike a deal that Andrew will help Chelsea rehab the injury if she’ll work with him to train his adorably uncivilized boxer.

Their typical bickering soon turns to bantering, and Chelsea finds herself inexplicably drawn to the man she thought she had nothing in common with. As she gets to know Andrew and his parents, she realizes she needs to refocus on her own family, especially with a milestone Christmas speeding toward them. But Chelsea can't help wondering if she and Andrew are training for keeps, or if this unexpected Christmas gift is just too good to be true. (Synopsis courtesy of Goodreads.)

Given the title of this book and the adorable cover, you’d assume it’s merely a feel-good holiday read. And, not that Unleashed Holiday isn’t a feel-good experience. It really is. But what a potential reader doesn’t see is the depth and the serious hotness and chemistry that is evident between Chelsea and Andrew. 

Sparks fly between the two characters! The old adage, “opposites attract” really is showcased here. Chelsea is a bit of a neat freak, with expectations that others around her will follow suit. Andrew doesn’t abide by the list of rules that Chelsea has set in place for him. She is more rigid, where Andrew is more “go with the flow,” and over time, they influence one another and round one another out. Some of the obstacles they are dealing with are past influences and experiences, as well as a recent loss that Chelsea is still healing from. Andrew doesn’t receive full support from his family in regards to his entrepreneurship, so it can bleed into how he feels about himself and his career. I loved that the coming together of this couple wasn’t flowery or perfect. There are some true to life issues that they both need to work through.

As with the other books by this author, the reader can appreciate the addition of some special animal characters that really makes the plotline pop! Chelsea is realistic with her thoughts on Edith, a recent rescue that she’s taken in, and she works hard to train both Andrew and his dog, Dude–a nice touch and a great way to bond Chelsea and Andrew together even more. I loved the mischievous little goats that Chelsea is trying to domesticate, too. It was a perfect balance of showcasing a budding romance, while also highlighting Chelsea's career and background.  

This is the third book I’ve read by Victoria Schade, and it won’t be my last! Unleashed Holiday is a definite five-star read!

Thanks to Berkley for the book in exchange for an honest review. 

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