HER HALLOWEEN TREAT [Amazon | Kobo | The Book Depository] is the first of three holiday romances by Tiffany Reisz, best known for her phenomenal Original Sinners books. Titled Men At Work, this new miniseries stars women who fall for men who’re very good with their hands.
Reisz, never content to do things the conventional way, has spread the series out over multiple autumnal and winter holidays instead of centering all three books on December. HER HALLOWEEN TREAT obviously takes place in the lead-up to Halloween, when the heroine plans to attend her brother's 80s themed costume wedding.
Joey thought she’d stop in and surprise her semi-long-distance boyfriend on her way from her current home in Hawaii to her childhood home in Oregon. Instead, she’s surprised--and devastated--to learn he’s always confined their relationship to her far-off state because he’s married. She gets the hell out of there as fast as she can and holes up in her family’s old cabin on Mount Hood, where fate presents her with an opportunity for rebound sex with a fit handyman.
Chris was close friends with Joey’s brother in high school, but she hasn’t seen him since. He’s the perfect choice for a quick and dirty fling: friendly, familiar, and oh-so sexy now he’s grown out of his teenage stoner phase. They agree to bang their way through to the wedding and deal with the good kind of pain when Joey heads home afterwards, but long-dormant feelings soon threaten to smash their careful plan.
HER HALLOWEEN TREAT delivers most everything I want from a Tiffany Reisz novel combined with everything I’ve always suspected I could expect from a Harlequin Blaze title. (I’m still a relative romance newbie--I’ve been reading it for about five years, in amongst other things--and this was my first traditional Harlequin.) I had an absolute blast with it.
For one, there’s loooooooooots of sex. Reisz does not believe in fading to black. You’re gonna get the details, and you’re gonna get them in detail. At great length. With plenty of puns re: those great lengths, because Reisz is hilarious as well as sexy. If you’re into clever yet lewd humour and snappy banter, you’ll chortle your way through her books. Everyone, be they a main character or a supporting player, stands ready with a pun, a quip, or a quick response to any and all verbal sparring opportunities the other characters present them with. It’s glorious, and it helps make Reisz’s books smooth, engaging reads that’ll linger long after you’ve finished.
Insert several dirty jokes about lingering finishes.
In this particular title, Reisz delivers a friends-to-lovers story with a bit of a twist. Joey and Chris were fairly close in high school, when they teamed up to protect her brother from homophobic bullies, but they haven’t seen each other in a decade or so. The gap in their relationship allows them to discover new things about one another and revisit their old connection without any "as you know, Bob" recollection sessions. Reisz provides them with dozens of points of contact as they each explore the person the other has become, ensuring their relationship is as friendly as it is sexy.
Which is really important to me. I can’t commit to a romance unless the parties are also friends, so I ate up this ample evidence that Joey and Chris share a strong connection both in and out of bed.
(Bed-related sidebar: longtime Reisz fans will want to know there’s a light domination component to Joey and Chris’s sexytimes, but they don’t delve into sadomasochism.)
Reisz imbues this friendly, sexy relationship with multiple layers of tension. Joey has just gotten out of a two-year relationship she thought was absolutely the real deal. She hates her ex for making her the other woman and for cheating on his wife, but that hatred can’t immediately erase the love she felt for him. Her BFF has also cautioned her not to make any big decisions in the next six months. No major haircuts or tattoos. No new relationships that go beyond great rebound sex. No big moves or new jobs.
Chris isn’t likely to give her a haircut or a tattoo, but he presents her with the other three in short order. He isn’t just an old friend; he’s also gone into business with Joey’s brother and said brother’s soon-to-be husband, renovating and renting luxury cabins around Lost Lake, Oregon. And all three business partners know Joey is the perfect person to manage the business for them. Joey can’t help but agree. She’s a marketing genius with a great eye for detail, she loves developing relationships with clients, and she’s excited at the challenge launching such a personal business provides.
Plus, she'll get to see a lot of Chris if she moves back to Oregon.
Except taking this new job would mean breaking all the rules and letting her ex win, since it’ll look like he chased her out of Hawaii and away from the company they both work at. Eep. To their credit, all the men completely get where she’s coming from when she tells them why she can’t accept their pitch. They don’t pressure her (though Chris really hopes she’ll change her mind), so the choice is absolutely Joey’s. Reisz shows us the factors that go into the decision and emphasizes how and why Joey arrives at the conclusion she does.
HER HALLOWEEN TREAT has everything I look for in a romance. An amazing connection between the heroine and the hero. Great sex. Humour. Problems that give both parties a chance to explore what they want outside of their emerging relationship without denying the impact that relationship has on their lives. I ate it up, and it’s all I can do to make myself wait until a teensy bit closer to (Canadian) Thanksgiving before I tackle the next book, HER NAUGHTY HOLIDAY.
I'll note, too, that this is also the sort of holiday romance you can read at any time of the year. No need to wait for Halloween, or to curse your luck if you stumble across it once Halloween has passed. I highly recommend it.