Title: Christmas at Two Love Lane
Author: Kieran Kramer
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Release Date: October 2017
Length: 352 pages
Series?: Two Love Lane #1
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
From the moment he strode through the iron gate and into the offices of Two Love Lane on a crisp December day, it was obvious that Deacon Banks was something different. He wasn’t a Charleston native, not with that adorable Yankee accent. And unlike the usual client at the elegant matchmaking agency, he had no interest in finding a woman to marry–just a few no-strings dates while he was in town.
Macy Frost takes her professional services very seriously–how could she not, when she’s rumored to be a direct descendant of Cupid? Tech entrepreneur Deacon says he’s just trying to make his social-climbing aunt happy by being seen out and about with a few prominent beauties, but Macy insists she can make her client fall in love…for real. And Deacon can’t help but think she might be right. As charming as the palmetto trees and magnificent harbor may be, it’s the beautiful, breath-of-fresh-air Macy who’s become Deacon’s favorite part of the scenery. But can the hopelessly romantic Southern belle stop trying to fix him up and just let Cupid do his work on her own heart?
The setting for the book is Charleston, South Carolina during the Christmas season. Charleston is described as the classic southern belle charm era that we all know, but the description and action within the book boasted a small town, intimate community instead of the vast size and population of Charleston. The book intimates that everyone knows everyone, and I don’t believe that is possible in a city the size of Charleston. Perhaps the “old families” know one another – the founding families and those around for generations upon generations, but that single-minded focus was very narrow and snooty to exclude newcomers to the city. The true purpose of Charleston’s setting functioned solely to bring in Cecilia’s character, her connections, and the reason Fran has hired her to help her make an appropriate splash into Charleston’s upper crust. While the culture and houses were described well within the community, the Christmas setting seemed more of a convenience than providing the cheer and magic of Christmas.
Being the first book in the series, it’s focus was more on Macy Frost than her coworkers at Two Love Lane, a matchmaking service they founded together following some of their own disastrous love affairs. Macy is described as the perfect woman. Everyone says so. She is so perfect and believes to be descended from Cupid, hence the matchmaking service. While it is doing very well and Macy’s mission is to find the soulmates for her clients, she absolutely will not commit herself. The high and mighty persona she wears about love – being good for everyone else, not for herself, woe is me, I’ll live my life in solitude with this cat – definitely, put her last name into perspective. She is the contemporary ice queen! It was not an attractive quality and quite off-putting, making it difficult to relate to her character and like her.
There were some tidbits dropped about each of the other women, Greer, Ella, and Miss Thing. I mean, seriously? Miss Thing? How unoriginal. Any other name would have been better. There seems to be some discord between the girls, and Miss Thing operates within the office as a gossip hound imitating British fashion. One of the ladies is searching for buried treasure in the building and one is conducting an affair with a married man – of someone they all know! It seemed so random and out of character for women running a matchmaking business. The ladies all seem taken in by Deacon and I was astonished, like Macy, that they all left her alone in the building alone with the man and allowed themselves to be bought off with spas or hair salon appointments. He could have been a serial killer! Some friends.
Deacon’s character rubbed me the wrong way throughout the book, too. He comes to Two Love Lane – a matchmaking service – looking to be set up on a series of dates with the female clients. After his Aunt Fran moved to Charleston and is trying to acclimate into their society, her wish is for him to also settle down. To appease her wish without giving into it – in essence, to trick her – he will go on dates all through the Christmas season and if a bedroom relationship develops, great, but there is nothing more than two dates with the same woman. All of which offends Macy, but the business desperately needs the double fees Deacon is willing to pay. So she sets him up with some Charleston sparklers.
In a twist of irony, Macy lives directly next to Aunt Fran, so there are several scenes set on their piazzas, yelling back and forth, watching bedroom windows and such. The cast of characters next door to Macy cracked me up! Fran is a vivacious, forceful woman – in the sense that she was a celebrity interviewer her entire life. She got people to do and reveal things they normally wouldn’t while on air – and she had the audacity to kiss married men. And I do mean KISSSSSS. On camera. Now that she has retired, she has set her sights on truly getting into Charleston society. She has brought her manservant, George, with her. He serves every role possible in her household, except lover. He is a hoot and their friendship is adorable. Fran is a woman who steals every scene she appeared in. She has hired Cecilia to help her get in good with the old families of Charleston, and Cecilia and Macy have a past. They have several scenes of their own and things even continue to escalate in the present day events of the book.
The pacing of the book was on the slower side. The situations in the book were quite comedic most times – especially if Fran or George were involved in a scene, and usually one or the other was. The scene breaking into one of Deacon’s date’s houses and what followed was also quite funny – and then Macy having to explain it to the homeowner later! Those instances are what I liked best about the book.
Most assuredly, the back and forth “I’m not made for love” mentality of Macy definitely didn’t endear her (or her business) to me. Despite that, there were a few sex scenes. They all began on the page and finished off the page, which was disappointing given all the tension and buildup. I prefer a little more sizzle to my romantic reads.
USA Today bestselling author Kieran Kramer currently writes fun contemporary romance with a Southern flair for St. Martin’s Press. She lives where she grew up–in the Lowcountry of South Carolina–with her family.