Rating: 5/5 Stars
Broadway hotshot Nik Kovalenko is a confirmed bachelor.
Ballroom champion Jess Davenport is a bona fide Scrooge.
Last year, they shared a midnight kiss at a New Year’s Eve party that made both of them believe—briefly—in the magic of the holiday season. The magic was cut short when Nik went on tour the next day, but he never stopped thinking about that kiss—or Jess.
When the holidays roll back around, Nik runs into Jess again. He doesn’t want to spend another year pining for the Scrooge who got away, so he tells Jess he’ll stay if she’ll give him a shot at being her Christmas Present.
Jess thinks he’s full of it, but she agrees to three dates. If Nik can make her believe in holiday magic in a place as un-wintery as Los Angeles—and convince her that he’s ready to stick around—she’ll give him a chance. But he won’t know until New Year’s Eve. If she kisses him at midnight, he’ll have his answer…
Have you ever labored over a homemade batch cookie dough, mixing ingredients, making sure all your chocolate chips are distributed evenly into your mix, place an even number of dough balls onto your baking sheet, watch them rise into perfect little clouds of amazingness, and bite into them and think “that’s some good shit right there?” That’s exactly how I felt while reading Dance All Night by Alexis Daria. I kept thinking “THAT’S SOME GOOD SHIT RIGHT THERE” to the point of staying up until 3am savoring all the words. Dance All Night is a cup of hot chocolate with chili powder on a cold winter day that you don’t know you’re gonna like and you end up practically licking the cup when you’re done.
Daria gives us an ideal pairing: the sweet and cheery Nik Kovalenko and the kind and prickly Jess Davenport. The setting: Christmastime! You know all those cheesy Hallmark movies about, say, a young baker who loves Christmas and the rough-around-the-edges business executive looking to settle down? It’s got the same vibe all while chewing up Christmas story tropes and spitting them out to make beautiful art.
Jess Davenport and Nik Kovalenko shared a kiss one year ago during a New Year’s Eve party, and they haven’t stopped thinking about each other since then (I know this sounds like HIgh School Musical but wait). When Nik comes back to L.A. to settle down after a long year of travel and work, he decides it’s time to slow down and explore a steady life. Nik hopes to have Jess be a part of that life, except she doesn’t believe he wants to end his wandering lifestyle.
And thus begins Nik’s new life mission: proving to Jess that he’s there for the long run and that Christmastime is a time for connection, even when the only person he wants to connect with is her. She’s not gonna make it easy for him though, keeping Nik, his three proposed dates, and the entirety of Christmas at arm’s length.
At its core, Daria’s novella is full of joy and the desire to connect with someone despite circumstances making you want to isolate yourself. Daria delivers on consent, communication between characters, balancing the fun with the dramatic, the steamy with the swoonworthy. It’s realistic with its relationship, especially in the age of social media where everything and everyone moves fast. Some may cry INSTA-LOVE, but who cares? I had fun, I rooted for the two of them, and I got a happily ever after by Alexis Daria. In the end, isn’t that what we all want during the jolliest of holidays?
An eARC was provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Review available on Goodreads.
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