If you're feeling anything like I am this week, you may be in the mood for a quick, fun read that's just slightly Christmassy and very escapist. If so, have I got the book from you! Susan Mann's debut The Librarian and the Spy is marketed as a contemporary romance, but to me it read more like a light spy mystery that included a romance plot. It's about a librarian named Quinn Ellington who is asked for research help by a hot library patron - and winds up being pulled into a bunch of international intrigue, because the hot patron is actually a spy. It's kind of as silly as that sounds, but in a thoroughly enjoyable way; I expected it to be a cute romance I'd breeze through but not particularly care about, but it left me eager to continue with the series. It's light without feeling hollow, which is just what I need sometimes.
I don't want to give too much away, but the mystery here wound up being more interesting than I expected, with a combination history and current geopolitical tensions. And Quinn's library knowledge ends up being very necessary to figuring it all out - not just her research skills, but very specific aspects of library science. It's explained well enough if you're not familiar the specifics of cataloging and such going in, but it's a fun treat for those of us who are familiar. As with most of my favorite romances, this features a heroine who is very competent and cares a lot about her career and her family and friends and her own interests, rather than being focused on finding a guy. Also: the guy is the one with the spy training here, but Quinn is NOT a damsel in distress.
ALSO: There was a twist at the end that genuinely surprised me. I do NOT expect that in a romance novel. (But don't worry, it's not a romance-centric twist. This does have a HEA.)
And, yes, it's kind of incidentally set around Christmas - it comes up in the background a few times but isn't an important part of the plot. So that was a cheery surprise, but won't add to the problem if you're a little sick of ALL CHRISTMAS ALL THE TIME.
So if this sounds like what you need for your holiday binge-reading needs: The Librarian and the Spy (currently only $1.99!) and its sequel A Covert Affair (99c as of this writing!) are available now, and the third book, An Uncommon Honeymoon, will be out on Boxing Day.