Penny Rothmoore works in the upper ranks of her father’s Las Vegas casino, which she’s destined to take over some day. When her useless, cheating ex-fiance shows up at her workplace to ask for some of his stuff back, Penny has a meltdown on the floor, and she’s told to take some time off to recover from her heartbreak. She lives and breathes her job, so this leaves her devastated and distracted, so much so that she almost forgets she’s having dinner that evening with her mother’s childhood best friend.
Lauren Hansen is supposed to be headed to Hawaii with the love of her life, but since that love decided to break up with her, Lauren is taking the trip solo. While touching down for her layover in Las Vegas, she wonders if she should cancel the trip and just head back home to Chicago, but Lauren figures she should at least keep her plans with Penny, since she’d never managed to reconnect with Penny’s mom before she’d died.
Over drinks with Penny’s friends, two things come out: Lauren doesn’t want to go alone to Hawaii and Penny doesn’t know what to do with herself for the next two weeks. So, they drunkenly agree that Penny will go with Lauren. Why not enjoy all the amenities that the honeymoon suite and resort have to offer? No big deal if they go as friends. But all bets are off when pretending to be a couple starts to produce real feelings.
Although Lauren and Penny both start out the story in rough spots, they’re fun to get to know, especially as they start to unwind. Their chemistry builds nicely and I was really invested in their happily ever after.
The Writing Style
Vacation People is paced so well that I didn’t want to put it down. The character work is solid, the relationship is developed well, and the settings seemed vivid (although I’ve never been to Hawaii and I haven’t been to Vegas in 15 years, so I could be wrong about that). It also has very little angst, which was just fine by me.
The “I have really big feelings for you, but you live across the country” aspect of the romance worked best for me. That was handled really well, because they each have strong reasons for staying in their respective cities.
This is a little spoilery, so skip on down to the next section if you’d prefer to avoid it.
I found it a little odd that Lauren was Penny’s mom’s best friend growing up and that has no impact on the relationship development. Penny’s mom had passed away before the events of this book, and surely Penny’s dad would have at least known who Lauren was, but Penny and her dad don’t talk about the relationship at all. My other quibble is that their age gap also doesn’t come up in conversation or in their thoughts, and it feels like Lauren is just sort of ageless. These two things didn’t stop me from enjoying the story, but it did feel a little incomplete because neither were addressed.
If you like vacation romances, you should pick up Vacation People. It’s breezy, sweet, and light, and it’s a great way to pass a Saturday afternoon. I’m looking forward to seeing more stories from Cheri Ritz in the future, because this was a great debut.
Excerpt from Vacation People by Cheri Ritz
“I don’t have to work.” Penny raised a hand as if beckoning a teacher to call on her, and gave a staccato, bitter laugh. The alcohol was really having its way with her. “There’s the bright side to this mess. I can totally blow town on a whim.”
“Oh my god!” Jenna’s voice was an amused hoot. “You should totally go with Lauren on the trip!”
“No, I didn’t mean…” Penny’s eyes went wide. A blush crept up her cheeks and across that beautiful face, clearly embarrassed at the implication.
“You should go with her, Penny. Really,” Jenna continued despite the look of utter disbelief Lauren was attempting to convey.
Lauren shook her head and waved a palm in front of her as she took a hard swallow of beer. Jenna, a twenty-something Lauren had met less than two hours ago, wanted her to go on a vacation for a week with a woman she barely knew. Young people.
“I mean, why not?” Jenna pushed. “You don’t want to go alone. Penny needs to get out of town. It’s the perfect arrangement.”
Lauren opened her mouth to argue, but suddenly paused. She had said repeatedly she didn’t want to go on that trip alone, and she could do a lot worse for a travel buddy than smart, sophisticated Penny Rothmoor. They could spend the week poolside, lay low and heal their hurting hearts. Or, really, they didn’t need to spend any time together at all. It was a big resort. They could each go their own way and just share the suite. Even the accommodations were big enough that they wouldn’t be tripping over each other. Lauren had booked the honeymoon suite for the trip with Carolyn, going full-out for a person who totally betrayed her. She had been an idiot.
“I could never impose like that,” Penny insisted, although the bitterness had melted from her expression and she looked calmer than she had all night. Maybe this was exactly what Penny needed too—a damn getaway from their normal lives.
“It is a vacation for two, and it is paid for,” Lauren pointed out with a shrug. With the tension gone from Penny’s features, she was absolutely glowing. Longing whispered through Lauren as she looked at her in this new light. Having a travel companion was sounding better and better. “You would only need to get a flight.”
“I would like to get away from the Rothmoor for a bit.” Penny sucked down the last of her beer and signaled to the bartender for another. “You wouldn’t mind, really?”
The relief on Penny’s face at the mention of getting away warmed Lauren. Or maybe the warmth was due to the way she had chugged her drink while agreeing to this Lucy-and-Ethel-style plan. Surely the alcohol was responsible for the surge of attraction that zapped through her body at the thought of spending a week in close quarters with Penny. “I wouldn’t mind at all.”
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781642471038
- Publisher: Bella Books
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