cover image The Christmas Wager

The Christmas Wager

Holly Cassidy. Putnam, $17 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-0-593-54405-1

Cassidy (The Revenge List, as Hannah Mary McKinnon) whips up a fluffy rom-com that would be right at home on the Hallmark channel. Ambitious urbanite Bella, a real estate developer, finally has an assignment that could get her the promotion she craves. If she can purchase the building that houses Always Noelle in Maple Falls, Colo., her boss has essentially promised to put Bella in charge of the firm’s new Denver office. Though the Christmas shop has been in the Harrison family for generations, sales are poor and elderly owner Clarence is willing to consider Bella’s offer—until his handsome grandson, Jesse, steps in and demands a fairer price. Clarence proposes a wager: Maple Falls has a tradition of outdoor winter games, and one of the teams needs a substitute. If Bella participates and beats Jesse’s team, Clarence will sell at the desired price; if she loses, she’ll have to come up with another $150,000. By day, Bella and Jesse become fierce competitors, but at night these opposites’ mutual attraction threatens to sabotage the bet. Meanwhile, Bella overcomes her aversion to both small-town life and Christmas cheer. The plot is by the numbers, but humor and charm make it zip by. This simple, feel-good tale is just right for fans of Sally Thorne and Christina Lauren. Agent: Carolyn Forde, Transatlantic Literary. (Oct.)