Publisher: Nixon House
Publication Date: December 1, 2017
Series or Standalone: Standalone
Links: Amazon – Barnes & Noble – Goodreads – StoryGraph
CW: domestic abuse; homelessness; intrusive thoughts; reference to parental death from cancer
Merry Inkmas is not your traditional holiday romance novella. If you’re looking for a light-hearted holiday romance, this is not the story for you. Now, I don’t think that should put you off the story though.
However, and I’m being honest, this is a bit of a hard novella for me to review. After reading it almost a month ago, I feel a bit indifferent toward it. Don’t get me wrong, I liked it, but it didn’t leave as much of a lingering impression on me as I thought it would. It was fine?
Famous tattoo artist Cash Evans has come a long way from his troubled childhood, but he cannot fix his troubled outlook on love. To Bailey, Cash is “hot coffee guy” – a regular who comes into the coffee shop whom she flirts with and harbors an attraction towards. When an incident at the coffee shop leaves Bailey without a job, Cash offers one to her at his tattoo parlor. While Cash tries to avoid her to fight his attraction towards her, he cannot seem to stay away, fixing her plumbing, helping the homeless, and even offering Bailey a place to stay for Christmas. The more Bailey learns about Cash and his demons, she cannot help but feel her jaded views of love changing.
The romance in this book was really sweet, even though I would have liked a little more relationship development before jumping to the epilogue. However, it is a novella, so that format, by its nature, does compress timelines a bit, especially when this story has a lot of other things going on. I thought the chemistry between Cash and Bailey was fantastic, and their attraction was apparent from the story’s start. Talia Hibbert did a great job with the sexual tension between them and bringing the heat, and my heart was invested in them getting their happily ever after. Everything happens in a short timeline, which made certain things feel rushed, but overall I loved how their romance made me feel in the end.
The characters in this book took me by surprise. Cash was so unexpected. He’s the tall, tough-looking tatted ginger, but he’s got a heart of gold and is battling his own demons. I feel like when you get characters with his physical attributes, you expect a different personality from them, so I appreciated that he took me by surprise. Both Cash and Bailey are emotionally complex characters and well-developed. I liked that Bailey stands up for others – her heart is in the right place. These two have a rather pessimistic outlook on love, so they are perfect for each other.
Outside the romance, domestic violence and homelessness play a fairly big role in this story. I don’t think I’ve ever seen homelessness mentioned or addressed in a romance novel before, and I think Hibbert handled it well. The domestic violence storyline is tough to read, but it played an important role in Cash’s backstory and shaped him as a person, so it felt necessary.
As I said, I liked this book after reading it. But now, a month out from reading it, it doesn’t stir that much emotion in me. There’s no specific reason that I can pinpoint as to why – it might just be a vibes thing. Overall, I think this was a good story with a solid romance, but it’s something I’ll probably forget the details of by next holiday season.