When I was asked to do a book review this week, I knew it had to be something holiday related. I quickly looked to Google to find the perfect holiday romance. As I looked at my results, I knew I had found the right choice. In 2021, New York Times Bestseller and one of my favorite steamy-romance authors, Tessa Bailey, came out with a short holiday novel entitled “Window Shopping.”
The story starts from the perspective of the main character, 25-year-old Stella Schmidt. Stella is strolling on Fifth Avenue in New York City two weeks before Christmas. While walking past many stores, she stops at one window showcasing a rather unfortunate Christmas display meant to entice shoppers inside. Suddenly, a man appears next to her, our second main character, 32-year-old Aiden Cook, whose perspective is seen in the next chapter.
Aiden asks Stella’s opinion on the window display, yet Stella is not engaging. She tries to blow him off by remaining silent, but that did not deter Aiden. Eventually, giving in to his southern charm, she trashes the original design and paints out a beautiful vision of a window display. Aiden quickly says she should apply for the job, secretly hoping to see the beautiful girl again. Stella is quick to deny him, seeing as this was a high-end retail store and she was an ex-convict. Despite her denying him, she goes home and promptly applies for the job wishing to change her life. After receiving her application for the job, Aiden reviews it, realizing she has a background in fashion and design as well as a prison record. She is hired for the job on a trial basis, yet Aiden is concerned that it might look suspicious if he hires her without any formal experience on her part.
It is clear that these two are polar opposites. Stella is newly released from a four-year stay in prison, skeptical and dressed in all black with heavy eyeliner. Aiden, however, wears a candy cane bowtie and a bright smile, practically radiating optimism. While these two seem like they would have little to nothing in common, they get along strikingly well. Bailey utilizes the classic grumpy-sunshine trope in Stella’s character while adding in forbidden romance as Aiden is her employer.
But not all is as well as it seems. Stella is trying to find footing in her life while the past keeps calling. Aiden comes from a judgmental, rich and successful family who is part owner in the store where the two are employees. The two cannot be together unless they formally document it with human resources, to which Aiden’s family would find out about her and her criminal record. Can the two make it with all these odds stacked against them?
I really enjoyed this book. I am a fan of the grumpy-sunshine trope and Bailey did it flawlessly. I also love a dual point of view, allowing the reader to step into the mind of both characters.
Both Stella and Aiden were personally relatable. Stella is just a young adult trying to find her way in the world after having made some poor decisions. Riddled with guilt and self-awareness, I see parts of myself in her. I couldn’t help but love Aiden and his sparkling personality. Even though he comes from a judgmental and cold family, he never fails to look at the bright side and keep a smile on his face. Though he’s not as bright as he seems, struggling with allowing things to upset him and speaking up for himself, I could certainly relate to him as well.
Their relationship is definitely one I was rooting for. Aiden was teaching Stella it’s okay to be happy while she was teaching him it is okay to not be happy. Additionally, Bailey is quite known for spicing up a book, and she certainly delivers in this one. Back-and-forth frustration made for tension like no other, but the build-up is quite worth the wait. The reader is sure to see that, yes, Aiden is respectful, but he is so beautifully disrespectful.
While I did enjoy this book, I cannot say I found it perfect. While it is a short book, the characters fall for each other awfully fast. It is almost like instantaneous love. I am a fan of a bigger build-up between characters which is not what I found in this novel.
With that being said, I really did like this book a great amount. It is fast-paced and steamy with witty banter and likable characters. This book gave me many cute date ideas and even includes a Christmas Eve ball making for the perfect holiday novel.
So while it may be cold outside with Christmas nearing the corner, things are certainly heating up between these two characters. If you are looking for a fast-paced, extremely steamy, short novel to spice up your holiday season, look no further than “Window Shopping.” Littered with witty banter and lovable characters, both main and side, you are sure to love it.