The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
Published by MIRA, ISBN 9780778311584
Trade paperback, $15.99, 416 pages
At this time of year I enjoy reading Christmas books, and the opportunity to read a Hanukkah story intrigued me, especially Jean Meltzer's The Matzah Ball with its unique leading lady. Rachel is the daughter of an esteemed rabbi father and doctor mother. She's also secretly Margot Cross, the bestselling author of twenty Christmas romances.
Rachel's lifelong best friend Mickey is one of few people who know she is Margot, and the only one who has seen her Christmas room- filled to the brim with all kinds of Christmas decorations, including her beloved and numerous Santa collection. It's every Hallmark movie come to life in one room.
The other secret Rachel has is that she has Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Most people don't understand the disease, believing that people who suffer from CFS are just low-energy or lazy. Rachel can be bedridden for days, unable to even raise her arms without pain. (Jean Meltzer also has CFS, something that gives the reader a better understanding of the disease.)
When Rachel's publisher tells her that this year they want her to write a Hanukkah romance, Rachel is stunned. How can she write a Hanukkah romance? Christmas is so festive, with so many different traditions, like the Rockefeller Christmas tree, and the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show. Hanukkah doesn't have all that.
Rachel decides that she must do some serious research for her Hanukkah book to get it right. She hears about the Matzah Ball, a big weeklong party for wealthy Jewish people to be held at a ritzy New York hotel. That's perfect! There will be lots of single people there, she can soak up the atmosphere and get some good details for her book.
There are some problems though. The host of the event is Jacob Greenberg, CEO of Greenberg Entertainment, one of the premier event organizers in the world. Jacob is also the guy who humilated and broke Rachel's heart at summer camp when she was twelve.
The event is sold out, but Jacob is willing to let Rachel come if she volunteers the week of the event. Jacob has a different view of what happened when they were twelve; he believes that Rachel broke his heart.
What happens when Rachel and Jacob spend the week working together? There are misunderstandings, mishaps, and yes, sexual tension. The Matzah Ball is a funny, sweet enemies-to-friends story. The characters are delightful, and as someone who has planned events in the past, I reveled in the descriptions of the event coming together. I liked learning about Hanukkah, the traditions and the food, and you will pick up a fair amount of Yiddish phrases.
The Matzah Ball is a welcome addition to the canon of holiday romances, and I hope that Jean Meltzer continues Rachel and Jacob's story in future books.
Thanks to Harlequin Books for putting me on their Holiday Romance Tour.