Review: Waiting In Vain by Charlotte Stein (Reindeer Games)

Reviewed by Sara

With very few exceptions, I really dislike Christmas/holiday themed Romances. What I do like though is Romances with the forced proximity trope and author Charlotte Stein, which is exactly why I picked up the new anthology, Reindeer Games.

Each story in Reindeer Games is both holiday themed and includes the forced proximity trope. In Charlotte Stein’s offering, “Waiting in Vain,” Nancy is a fish out of water at her brother’s wife’s family Christmas weekend. In order not to embarrass her brother, she needs to present herself as well mannered and polite to the Hennessy family. Unfortunately, her resolve is tested by the gorgeous, well muscled Hennessy son, Mick who is making his attraction known at the most inopportune times.

Mick has always wanted smart and sexy Nancy, and this Christmas he’s making his move. He’s making his move under the table cloth at Christmas dinner, in his old bedroom right next where his grandma is sleeping and in the back shed where anyone could walk in at any moment. He might feel bad about his choice of locations except that Nancy very clearly is enjoying herself.

Charlotte Stein has this talent of creating deliciously awkward female characters and Nancy is no exception. She is completely unsure of herself, feels like a square peg in a round hole and is nervous in the extreme. So, she is shocked that Mick is into her and initially wonders if he has some kind of inner ear issue that means he has to put his hand on her thigh for balance. I love that Stein doesn’t use humiliation or some kind of horrible past to explain Nancy’s awkwardness, but instead the completely relatable experience of being in a place with people you’re not really part of with an expectation of good behavior. She does such a good job that I could easily feel Nancy’s awkwardness myself and it made me relate more to the character.

Another thing Stein does well, particularly in “Waiting in Vain” is balance all the elements of the story. If the story was all awkward all the time, it just wouldn’t be enjoyable. However, Stein masterfully balances Nancy’s awkwardness with the chemistry between her and Mick, with the joy and excitement of both the holidays and of a new, fresh, sexy romance. Together, all these elements make a perfect combination of sweet, endearing and sexy.

I’ve read some of the other stories in Reindeer Games and they’re good, but like I mentioned before, I bought this anthology for Charlotte Stein. Her story brought joy to this Romance Grinch’s face.

Click to purchase: Amazon

Reindeer Games
by Various Authors
Release Date: December 1, 2018


  1. I am currently reading this anthology & haven’t yet reached the Charlotte Stein story. Most of the stories are enjoyable, but my goodness I wish they had paid for a proofreader. I only paid 99 cents for the book, so I kind of feel bad for complaining, but one of the stories had so many typos, misused & missing words, that I found it almost unreadable. A lot of the stories had typos. Self-publishing is a different world, but I really wish that didn’t mean lowered standards.

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