The Christmas Swindle Featured
Book Review, Christmas, Contemporary, Novella, Romance, Women's Fiction

The Christmas Swindle by Kristy Tate


Does Santa take recommendations for the naughty list?

Aspiring author Lauren Hallstrom has one objective: destroy the publishing house that scammed her out of her money and her dreams. Unfortunately, an aggressive poodle gets in her way, and sends her scrambling for refuge on the sports car parked beside the cutest guy she’s ever encountered.

From the moment nerdy scientist Ron Walsh spots Lauren sprawled on top of his brother-in-law’s vintage T-Bird, he knows she’s the girl for him. Too bad his unruly canine injured Lauren’s pride, and, even worse, his mom is the cause of Lauren’s financial crisis.

Ron sets out to right his mother’s wrongs, tame the poodle, and win Lauren’s heart, but he needs more than his billions of dollars—he needs a Christmas miracle.


I was delighted to receive a request from Ms. Tate to review this sweet romance between a nerdy billionaire and a music teacher and budding novelist. 

Billionaire Ron Walsh has two PhDs and an enormous IQ, but his emotional intelligence is lacking. So when he meets Lauren Hallstrom with a bone to pick with the woman who swindled her out of money from a fake publisher scam, he had to think fast. The swindler was his unreliable, irresponsible, and absentee mother and he didn’t need a lawsuit in his future. Therefore, Ron proceeds to “stalk” Lauren to find out what she plans to do only to find that he enjoys her company and makes plans to make it right for the beautiful woman who likes him just the way he is.

Lauren is a divorcee and mother of two grown children who has lost her job and her dream to become a writer. However, her resilience and meeting the quirky and practical man with a penchant for eating the same thing every day, saving stranded strangers trapped on an island, and listening to her with rapt attention, has given her a strong appreciation of a good man.

There is an intriguing dynamic between the logical and reliable Ron and the independent and practical Lauren. Ron’s knowledgeable meanderings are endearing and his insecurities are charming. Pair that with Lauren’s assuredness and ease with Ron’s quirks and you get two people made for each other.

This is a novella so things move quickly and felt a bit rushed at the end, but overall, I enjoyed the romance between an older couple with less of the angst and worry to skew everything.

Thank you to Ms. Tate for giving me the opportunity to read this book with no expectation of a positive review.



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Dr. Seuss was my first love. When my mom left me in the children’s section of the library I’d find Horton and the Cat. My mom hated the good doctor and refused to check out his books. He was my secret, guilty pleasure. Eventually, I read about Narnia, Oz, and Green Gables.

When my mom grew too sick to visit the library, a lady from our church brought her a stash of romances which she kept in a big box beside her bed. Weekly, this good friend replenished the box. My mom didn’t know I read her books; it was like the Seuss affair, only sexier. Reading became my escape from a horrific and scary situation. Immersed in a story, I didn’t have to think about the life and death drama taking place on the other side of my bedroom wall. Books were my hallucinogenic drug of choice. In college, I studied literature and fell in love with Elliot, Willa, and too many others to mention. (This had no similarity to my dating life.)

I’m no longer a child living with a grieving father and a dying mother, nor am I the co-ed in search of something or someone real, nonfictional. I’m an adult blessed with an abundance of love. I love my God, my husband, and our children, my dog, my friends, my neighbors, my writing group, the birds outside my window.

Because I’m a writer, I also love my characters. I adore their pluck, courage, and mettle. I admire the way they face and overcome hardships. But, as in any relationship, I sometimes get angry with them and think that they are too stupid to live. At those times, I have to remind myself that they exist only in my imagination unless I share. Writing for me is all about sharing–giving back to the world that has so generously blessed me.

I learned a long time ago that the world is full of life and death dramas. Sometimes we need a story to help us escape. And most of us won’t be fortunate enough to have a church lady deliver us a big box of romance. We have to seek out our own entertainment, and in today’s world, we are bombarded with so many ways to fill our time and divert our attention. But books never run out of batteries. We can go to the library—or if you have a tablet, online—and there are thousands of stories to choose from, and they’re free. Books introduce us to unknown worlds, courageous thinking, different points of view.

Sometimes I get caught up in the creation of a story and the pleasure is all mine. But when the slogging is hard, when the words won’t come, when the characters are wooden and boring, I remember my younger self, my dying mother, my grieving father, and I write. Not because I enjoy it, but because someone, somewhere, might need to escape into a story.

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