The Calum (The Calum Series) by Xio Axelrod - Romance>Contemporary
Twenty-six is too old to believe in fairytales, but tell that to Lovie’s roommate. Convinced she’ll find a real life version of her ultimate book boyfriend, Calum MacKenzie, Jo drags Lovie to the Scottish Highlands. Lovie’s no cynic *ahem* but she knows The Calum is a myth. A construct. A freaking unicorn! And there are warmer places to spend Christmas vacation.
If Duff had his way, he’d never step foot in Inverness again. Only his best friend’s wedding, and his ailing grandmother, could bring him home. Duff’s plan is keep his head down and stay out of trouble. Hard to do when the groom targets a pretty blond tourist for one last conquest.
When Duff and Lovie meet, stones, sparks and insults fly. He’s instantly attracted to the sexy, sharp-tongued American. She’s just glad to have someone to hang out with, especially the bad boy with a mysterious past. Lovie is determined to learn his secrets, but as they grow closer, Duff is forced to choose between his best friend and his heart.
Axelrod's novella is a short, fast-paced contemporary romance with a witty heroine and a lot of heart. Lovie just wants to spend her Christmas vacation on a beach somewhere, but when her best friend, Jo, wins their annual coin toss, the pair fly off to Scotland on a quest to find Jo a lover like Calum MacKenzie, the star of a series of romance novels. When Jo snares a very Calum-like charmer named Hamish in an Inverness pub, Lovie is thrown together with his best friend, "adorable bad-ass" Duff, whose tough image, doting grandmother, and soulful photography capture her heart. The four of them retreat to Hamish's estate for a steamy weekend, but when the women find out that Duff was helping Hamish conceal a major secret, the fragile trust between them is broken, maybe forever. Readers may be unimpressed by this overused plot device, but the rest of the book handily avoids clich . Axelrod notes Duff's appreciation of biracial Lovie's brown skin and red hair while steering well clear of fetishization, and the contrasting slang of the Scots ("Tea awright?") and Americans ("Tea would be awesome") is charming. (BookLife)
Sweet, well-written romance.
Xio Axelrod's novel delivers everything a romance is supposed to deliver. I got caught up in the will-they-or-won't-they tension. Lovie, the main character, is the kind of strong, grounded woman I like to see in a romance. At first I couldn't understand why she wasted her time with her silly girlfriend, but as the story went on the girlfriend turned out to not be so silly after all. It was a nice character revelation, satisfying to read. The main male character, Duff, was my favorite. He was extremely self-critical, an intriguing blend of cockiness and self-loathing that made me feel for him. A memorable character! I recommend this book to anyone looking for a sweet romance.