"A Christmas romance guaranteed to put you in a holiday mood"
Reviewed by Monique Daoust
Posted November 25, 2017
Sisters Jade and Amber King co-own the Jingle Bell Reindeer
Ranch, and Amber in proactive PR mode has hired a STUDMUFFIN
SANTA for the season, which does not enthrall Jade in the
least. Amber has a valid reason for her sexy Santa; Marine
Brandon Brown is in town for a while, and there have been
some small, but worrying, disruptions on the ranch. Amber
has not told Jade the reason for her choice of Saint Nick
because she does not want her sister to worry needlessly.
Brandon is more of a studmuffin Grinch, but his cousins'
ranch is nearby, so why not make himself useful. Brandon
doesn't remember Jade from high school, he was two grades
above her, and not exactly in the same league, but Jade has
not forgotten him, and this is where Tawna Fenske
demonstrates why she writes such wonderful contemporary
Ms. Fenske is slowly but surely becoming a go-to author when
it comes to intelligent contemporary romance because of her
ability to strike a perfect balance between the elements of
her story, and keeping everything fresh and genuine.
STUDMUFFIN SANTA has just enough sweet and sexy to satisfy
this discriminate reader: a credible story, likable and
relatable characters, flawless writing, and clever
dialogues. I loved the playful flirtiness between Brandon
and Jade, and that the romance unfolded seamlessly. The
reason Brandon did not like Christmas was not a whim on the
author's part, but a real distressing situation from his
past, one that some of us can, unfortunately, identify with,
which was one of the reasons why Brandon was in the area.
And I had sworn I would not cry, but there you go; that's
what happens when an author knows how to tell a story.
I was ever so grateful that Ms. Fenske did not let some lack
of communication fester so that our rational characters
remained so until the end. Ms. Fenske also writes terrific
secondary characters, such as Amber, Bree -- one of
Brandon's cousins -- and Tammy. Ms. Fenske showed her
incomparable wit in two occasions concerning cookies, in the
case of a protective and helpful reindeer, and the very
clever use of Brandon's football playing skills, the last
two leading to the apprehension of the bad guy, which was at
the same time somewhat dangerous and hilarious. I think it
was a brilliant move that STUDMUFFIN SANTA was not released
earlier in the year, as were many other Christmas books
because Christmas is not incidental to STUDMUFFIN SANTA, it
is essential to the plot, and another plus is that there are
none of the predictable holiday tropes. You don't read a
Tawny Fenske book, you snuggle with it!
Brandon Brown is the unlikeliest Santa ever to don a red
His abs are more cheese grater than bowl full of jelly,
deploying to Syria is the closest he's come to the North
Pole. But family drama sends the jaded Marine home for the
holidays, and lands him an unexpected gig as a part-time
Jade King is hustling to get Jingle Bell Reindeer Ranch
the ground, and she's not thrilled her sister hired a
with sex-appeal. The last thing Jade wants is a beefcake
circus, and guys like Brandon bring sleigh-loads of
But Studmuffin Santa proves more popular than anyone
dreamed, drawing hordes of happy kids, lusty moms, and a
mystery foe hell-bent on wrecking it all.
The threat has Brandon playing protector for the reindeer
and their sexy keeper, which is risky for a guy who's
off happy endings and the whole Christmas mess. But as
and Brandon bond over Santa suit malfunctions and risquĂ©
Christmas cookies, they learn they have more in common
a craving for gingerbread. Can they find a way to mesh
wish lists, or will ghosts of Christmas past bring things
crashing down like a fat man in a cast iron sleigh?
ExcerptJade stares at me for a moment with those Crater Lake eyes
unblinking. Two shaggy-looking reindeer stand behind her
with antlers the size of coat racks, looking like thugs
braced to beat the shit out of me if Jade gives the order.
But she seems to decide something then, and spins on her
heel to walk away. I do not check out her ass because I am
a gentleman. Also because the tail of her plaid flannel
shirt comes down past her hips.
But mostly because Iâ€™m a gentleman.
â€śCome on,â€ť she calls over her shoulder. â€śYou can walk with
me while I check the fence line.â€ť
Iâ€™m not sure what weâ€™re checking it for or why Iâ€™m already
taking orders from her when Iâ€™m not positive I have this
job. But Iâ€™ve got nothing better to do on this cold
November afternoon, so I fall in beside her and try not to
step on any piles of little black berries Iâ€™m ninety
percent sure arenâ€™t berries.
Jadeâ€™s walking fast for a girl almost a foot shorter than
me, but sheâ€™s not breathing hard at all. Sheâ€™s also not
looking at me.
â€śSo weâ€™re the third largest domesticated reindeer herd in
the continental U.S.â€ť She stops and adjusts something on a
surprisingly tall fence, then continues on like the
worldâ€™s least-friendly tour guide. â€śA lot of them came
from abusive homes or neglect situations, so Iâ€™ve been
doing rehab with them and getting them ready to interact
with the public.â€ť
I want to ask what reindeer rehab entails, but I suspect
sheâ€™d think Iâ€™m making fun of her. â€śThey look good to me,â€ť
I offer. â€śNot that I know what healthy reindeer look like,
but I assume they are. Healthy, that is.â€ť
Iâ€™m spewing word salad like itâ€™s on the menu, which isnâ€™t
like me at all. Iâ€™m usually pretty polished around women,
so I donâ€™t know why this oneâ€™s making me blather like a
Jade spares me a glance and continues walking. â€śThey are
healthy. We had four new calves born last spring, which
gives us fourteen steers, sixteen cows, and one bull whoâ€™s
not going to be a bull much longer.â€ť
Iâ€™m almost afraid to ask. â€śWhat do you mean?â€ť
She gives me a pointed look. â€śHaroldâ€”stage name Donnerâ€”is
getting castrated next week.â€ť
Jade shrugs and keeps walking. â€śBulls are impossible to
deal with during rut. Nonstop grunting from August to
December, and theyâ€™re mean as hell. Dangerous, too.â€ť
â€śIâ€™ve known guys like that.â€ť
Jade stops walking again and turns to face me. She narrows
her eyes just a little, and I fight the urge to take a
step back. â€śThey die young,â€ť she says. â€śReindeer bulls do.
You get three or four breeding seasons out of them and
they might live a year or so after that, but not much.
Unless you castrate them, theyâ€™re pretty much goners.â€ť
Iâ€™m not sure weâ€™re still talking about reindeer, but I
donâ€™t love the way she just glanced at my crotch. Or maybe
Iâ€™m imagining things. â€śSo youâ€™re cutting off his balls to
save his life.â€ť
â€śPretty much.â€ť Jade starts walking again.
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: A Christmas romance guaranteed to put you in a holiday mood
I love the review! Twana Fenske has a true gift!
(Kathleen Bylsma 3:24pm December 30, 2017)
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