A Merry Little Meet Cute
by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone
Published by Avon
Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star.
With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.
Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.
But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.
And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.
"Cowritten by #1 New York Times bestselling author Julie Murphy and USA Today bestselling author Sierra Simone—a steamy plus-size holiday rom-com about an adult film star who is semi-accidentally cast as a lead in a family-friendly Christmas movie, and the former bad-boy pop star she falls in love with."
Have you ever gone into a book, not reading the synopsis at all, just ... picking it up, and saying, what the hell! Let's do it! This is what I did with A Merry Little Meet Cute. I mentioned needed to read some holiday romances for this little blog of mine, and she insisted I needed to read this book (despite the fact that she had yet to read it for the Book Beau Book Club that she also insisted I needed to join). So I bought it on my kindle, not knowing what I was getting into. Honestly, I was suspecting it to be a cheesy Hallmark Christmas Movie with a side of no sex. I mean, the cover screams it. So I was SURPRISED within the first few pages when a) I was laughing. I was actually laughing out loud and not just chuckling in my head. and b) I knew it was going to be steamy.
The story in A Merry Little Meet Cute is great. It blends the very popular Hallmark wholesome Christmas movies with the adult entertainment world - in secret, of course. Which makes it all the more wonderful, and hilarious. The situations Bee and Nolan get themselves into throughout the book lead to some laughs, and even the side characters who are part of the industry add a little something to the awkwardness of the situation they landed in. Because lets me honest - Hallmark movies are as wholesome and family friendly as they come. You get a simple, chaste kiss, and that's it. I mean, I am pretty sure that is it. As someone who loves romance, I sure do HATE Hallmark and Women's Network romance movies, so I haven't seen one in a long time. The whole idea of adding porn stars and behind the scenes staff of porn, asking them to keep their jobs secret, and working on one of these movies? Brilliant and funny. We as the reader get a nice, fluffy Christmas story, but the best part is the real, behind the scenes Christmas love story. It was cool, and unique, and just an all around entertaining read.
I want to spend some of my favorite aspects of A Merry Little Meet Cute.
Bee is amazing. Plus-size, and loves herself and her body. Julie and Sierra wrote her in a way that didn't gloss over her plus-size status. They didn't just make her immediately confidant. They make it clear that Bee went through a journey to find her self-esteem and her love for herself. But Bee is so much more than that. She is an all around wonderful person - who happens to work in porn. She isn't ashamed of it. She loves her job. She feels empowered. I just love that her job and her size is not the sum of who she is, and it isn't a shameful part of her.
The sex industry is not shamed in this book. It isn't used as a gimmick. Every character in this book - main and side character - truly loved their jobs. They were open about the pitfalls - like Bee not ever getting cuddles after sex, ever, because, well, its porn, and the stigma - but none of them felt it was a bad thing. They were all loud and proud. All happy. And I love that. Sex work isn't this terrible thing it is made out to be. When done right, and in a healthy way, it shouldn't be shamed.
Mental health was a big thing on Nolan's side of the story. His mother's diagnosis being Bipolar, and how his mother was doing in terms of her high's and lows, and medication control felt very real. The problems with insurance and medicine costs felt, and are, very real. People go through this everyday. Julie and Sierra did a great job writing this in their book without falling on stereotypes of bipolar disorder.
Lastly, A Merry Little Meet Cute was LGBTQ+ friendly. Bee and Nolan, our main love interests, are both bisexual. Bee's best friend, who does both pornography and makeup, is bisexual. ********* and Teddy's son Angel, are gay. Bee's parents are a lesbian couple. I just loved the representation.
This is probably the longest review I have written for a Christmas romance, but it's deserved here. A Merry Little Meet Cute was a surprising delight for me. The romance is there, the steam is there, and there was a lot of realistic representation in this book that was just all around refreshing. I insist you pick up A Merry Little Meet Cute for your holiday reading. I promise, you won't regret it!
And getting Duke the Halls distributed by Hope—and their new streaming platform Hopeflix—was the only thing that could turn Teddy’s desperate Christmas movie gamble into real money. God knew his day job making cheap pornography wasn’t paying for his son’s art school tuition or his daughter’s startup making carbon-neutral sex toys. And Christmas movies couldn’t be that hard to make, right? They were almost like porn. The scripts were on the flimsy side and the production times were shorter than a community college wintermester. He needed his new production company to appear five thousand percent aboveboard, so that no one would dig too hard and find out that Teddy Ray Fletcher was the same man who owned Uncle Ray-Ray’s, a porn studio specializing in—well, less stuff than it used to, now that his daughter was in her twenties and spent every family meal lecturing him about creating ethical mission statements. Last Thanksgiving, she and his son made him identify Uncle Ray-Ray’s core values. Core. Values. He’d dealt with any number of porn catastrophes in his day, but unfortunately, the stakes were a bit higher here than having to recast a performer with hemorrhoids. Gretchen: “I hope,”
Gretchen said coolly,
Gretchen: “that you’re not balking because she’s plus-size?”
Teddy: “What? No!”
Teddy worked with Bee all the time! She was gorgeous and filthy and great for business! But she couldn’t be in a chaste-as-hell Christmas movie. For the flipping Hope Channel. What if she was recognized? What if Teddy Ray Fletcher was revealed to be a purveyor of porn and then poof went this fledgling Hopeflix partnership and his son the artist had to be a barista two years too early? Bee: “S, I don’t think I’m going to need any flavored lubes at all on the set of Duke the Halls. This is Hopeflix we’re talking about. If my grandmother’s stack of pioneer romance novels and megachurch energy had a baby, it still wouldn’t be as squeaky clean as the Hope Channel.”
Sunny plopped down on the floor in a sea of dildos, butt plugs, silk ties, harnesses, Ben Wa balls, pocket rockets, anal beads, paddles, ball gags, and vibrating cock rings. Shortly after I found out I was being shipped off to Vermont to star in my very first nonporn film as part of Teddy’s venture into wholesome Christmas movies, I dumped out my suitcases, which just so happened to double as storage for my collection of toys, and started packing. And sure, two full suitcases of sex toys might be a bit much, but these are not only essential tools, they’re also a tax write-off in my line of work.
Sunny: “Bee, what if there’s an emergency? And you’re lubeless?”
She had a point.
Bee: “One. Sugar cookie flavored.” Teddy didn’t know how to text. Or so he claimed. Sunny said she once saw him respond to a text from his ex-wife with the flame emoji, but that was no better than folklore in the unbelievable history of Teddy Ray Fletcher. Which is why I almost sent him to voicemail when I saw his face (a picture of him sleeping in a director’s chair on set while people were literally fucking in front of him) light up my screen. Bee: “I forgot my charger.”
Sunny: “Check your side pocket. And the charger for your laptop should work for Rod too.”
Bee: “Rod! I can’t believe I almost forgot.”
Sunny: “Leave no vibrator behind.” Bee: “I need to call Teddy and tell him he’ll have to find someone else. And Nolan Shaw! I haven’t even wrapped my head around the fact that I’m supposed to be costarring with Nolan Shaw.”
Sunny let out an excited shriek.
Sunny: “Do you think it’s best to come clean about the INK shrine above your childhood bed before or after you finish filming?”
Bee: “Sunny! This is not something to joke about!”
Sunny: “You used to jack off to the ex–boy band member you’re about to star in a time-traveling Christmas movie with. Oh, and you’re a porn star. That is prime joke material.” He began to walk toward us the moment he saw Sunny’s baby-blue nine-year-old Toyota Prius covered in unmistakable bumper stickers like my other ride is a dildo and don’t you wish your girlfriend was pagan like me? Sunny: “You’re a star. Don’t forget it. Nolan Shaw won’t know what hit him.”
Bee: “I love you, I love you, I love you,”
I whispered back.
Bee: “But you have to let me go before someone kills us with their Tesla.”
Sunny: “Fuck your Tesla,”
Sunny shouted over my shoulder to no one and everyone, and then to me, she said,
Sunny: “I packed an extra travel-size lube in your backpack. In case of emergency.” Nolan: “Of course I’ll be nice. I’m a nice guy, you know.”
Steph: “Nolan, just days after serenading the world at the Olympics opening ceremony, you lured America’s favorite wide-eyed female figure skater into an orgy. An orgy with Europeans.”
Nolan: “It wasn’t like that,”
I said, flapping my hand even though she couldn’t see me.
Nolan: “I already told you that I didn’t lure anyone. And the Dutch athletes were speed skaters. Have you seen the thighs speed skaters have? They would have done their own luring, even if I had been involved. Well, involved in more than a Good Samaritan way.” Luca: “Okay. So, like, those tubs in front are all mine. There’s probably not going to be fallopian breeches or whatever in there. But all of those in the back were here when I got in, so I think the last designer had them ordered in.”
I dug the heel of my palm into my eye.
Nolan: “You couldn’t tell me this earlier?”
Luca: “You were just so determined. You had a flow. I didn’t want to get in the way of the flow.” During the whole flight and the car ride to Christmas Notch, I recited the rules over and over again to myself.
1. No fucking. On camera or for fun.
2. You are Bee Hobbes. You’ve never heard of Bianca. You’ve never even watched porn. You use parental controls on your Netflix, because you are that fucking wholesome. You might as well be a virgin. (Yes, I know. Virginity is a construct. Blah, blah, blah.)
3. Come up with a backstory and stick to it. You were plucked from student-film obscurity and are so thankful for your big break.
See that giant gaping hole between the two bubbles? That’s our only shot at getting away with this. MIND THE GAP.
4b. Keep the jokes about gaping holes to yourself.
5. No. Fucking.
6. I’m serious. Luca: "I brought some emergency options. Teddy couldn’t tell me what I’d be working with, so I wanted to be prepared.”
I glanced into an open bin.
Bee: “With ball gags and crotchless panties?”
Luca: “Don’t pretend like I haven’t saved your ass on set before,”
he countered playfully. I was floored by his little rant. Like, yes, the floppy-haired chaos had been real, but it was also six years ago. I’d been an upstanding bisexual citizen since then! I went on very normal, disappointing dates! I had health insurance, and I hadn’t been in a single other circus-train orgy! How long did someone have to be quiet and boring before all their floppy-haired sins were forgiven? I popped a breath mint and tried to imagine I was the duke. A Hope Channel duke who’d never had sex and who never thought about sex and who’d never even seen two horses doing it in a field or whatever. The duke of no boners. The softest duke who’d ever softed. That was me. Luca: “Do not. Do not even go there. My brain hurts too much to even consider what it might mean that I was perfectly content to fall asleep to an old Celine Dion concert and innocent cuddles, because that could only mean two things. Either I’m old or I’m in love, and I am neither of those things.”
Bee: “Or you’re both,”
I offered. He chugged the second bottle and crushed the plastic before tossing it into the small recycling bin.
Luca: “Unspeak your curse, witch.” Bee: “My ass was not made for this chair.”
He shook his head, unbothered.
Nolan: “No, it’s the chair that wasn’t made for your ass.” April: “And there’s no way you can coax the costume designer to do this for you?”
she asked, giving the fabric a critical look.
Nolan: “He’s at a strip club right now,”
I groused as I threaded the needle.
April: “And you’re not with him at this strip club?”
Nolan: “Mom! I’ve cleaned up my act! I don’t do that anymore!”
She gave me a skeptical look.
Nolan: “I’m serious,”
I promised her.
Nolan: “I’ve been a total saint, and there’s even someone I like here and everything.”
It was maybe a mistake to tell this to April Kowalczk, because her face immediately turned into a Nosy Mom face.
April: “Ooh, someone you like, hmm?”
April: “What? I can’t want my son to stop sneaking boys and girls up to his room like he’s still a teenager? I can’t want you to settle down with someone nice?” The way it had felt to hold her close and stroke her tongue with mine at fake Frostmere Manor . . . I can help youuuuu, the gingerbread lotion called from the table. Let me fix it with the moisturizing glide of gingery, cinnamony wonder. Let me be the holiday salve to your poor, aching, throbbing— I stalked over to the end table, grabbed the bottle, and then locked it in the room safe under the bed, where its siren song would be silenced. For now. Bee: “Okay. You can help. But you have to promise not to laugh.”
I turned the knob and opened the door.
Nolan: “Why would I laugh—oh my God.”
I couldn’t help it. I did start laughing. Bee clearly had been attempting to tighten her own corset, and she’d looped the lacings around the inside doorknob and also around a curtain hook to try to pull it tight. I had to duck under a tangled web of lacings just to get inside the dressing room. She gave me an adorable pout as I straightened up in front of her.
Bee: “You said you wouldn’t laugh.”
Nolan: “That’s before I knew how funny it would be. Hold still,”
I said, and slowly followed the twisted lacings to the doorknob, where I unhooked one of the rabbit-ear laces.
Nolan: “This is like some weird Spider-Man cosplay. This is like shibari gone wrong.”
There was a note of interest in her voice when she said,
Bee: “And you know about shibari gone right?”
I could hardly say that I’d learned about it from watching some of her scenes, so I settled for a mysterious mmm noise instead. Bee: “Thanks,”
she said as she turned so that she was straddling my thighs and her pouty C-cup breasts were within inches of my face.
Prancer: “I really love it. I love making people happy and nothing brings more joy than Christmas and titties.”
I turned to Nolan, whose sharp gaze watched me intently.
Bee: “You’re not wrong.” Bee: “I like a man who cleans his plate,” Bee: “The duke! The duke will escort me back to my chambers!”
I gave the table a grand curtsy.
Bee: “Good eve to all until I see you on the morrow . . . which means tomorrow in fancy talk. You would know if you were fancy.” Bee: “This isn’t funny, Nolan. I’m going to get on that horse, and it’s going to throw me into the snow and then it’s going to prance on my body until I pop like a grape and then I won’t even be able to say I told you so because I’ll be dead. Dead as a popped grape.” Nolan: “Mom, passing out in the Michaels parking lot is not nothing!”
April: “Well, it’s not a good look, I’ll admit that. But they’re just going to tell me to take some ibuprofen and to eat more fiber or something. Joke’s on them—I have a Metamucil smoothie every morning. I excrete like a champ.”
Maddie: “Ew, Mom,”
I’d heard Maddie say in the background. That’s what it always came down to. It was all I ever wanted in any relationship—for the person I was seeing to not only be with me at night when things were fun and sweaty and full of delight, but to be there in the harsh light of day when there was no hiding from reality. I wish I could go back in time and tell little Bee that the dark was nothing to be scared of and that the hardest things in life usually happened in broad daylight. Sunny: “Oh, Bee?”
I glanced back over my shoulder.
Sunny: “Maybe brush your teeth?”
Sunny: “Deodorant might not hurt either.”
I nodded and doubled back to the bathroom.
Sunny: “And maybe take some lube too. Just in case! Anger is always a motivator for great sex!” Nolan: “Maddie is the best teenager ever. No little sister has any business being as cool as she is. The best part is that she’s just young enough for her and her friends to give zero shits about me or INK.”
Bee: “And that’s the best part?”
Nolan: “If your cousin had ever sold your underwear on eBay, you’d be pretty grateful for any family members who were also unimpressed by you.”
Bee: “Well, the real question is: Were they clean? Because the ones that are good and sweaty go for some serious coin.”
He looked up from under those dark brows and with a helpless grin said,
Nolan: “You have one delightfully perverted mind, Bee Hobbes.” Bee: "Oh, oh! Sunny would be the perfect person to be on Mrs. Kowalczk cell phone watch!”
Nolan blew out a low hiss.
Nolan: “Does she do favors for fuckboys?”
Bee: “Ooooh, that would be a good nonprofit name. Favors for Fuckboys.” His voice was raspy and grating when he said,
Nolan: “This is . . . you are everything I want.” Nolan: “It’s morning now,”
I murmured, still keeping my hand over her mouth.
Nolan: “We’ve been fucking all night, and you’re still not satisfied, are you? And every person walking down our hallway this morning is going to know it. They’re going to know you can’t come enough to keep that pretty pussy happy, aren’t they?” Nolan: “I like you,”
I whispered, taking her coffee from her and setting it on the table next to mine.
Nolan: “I like you so much that it scares me. And when I think about leaving and never seeing you again, it makes me feel like something’s being yanked out of me. Something important, something that I need to breathe and eat and live. I want more than memories with you, Bee. I want moments upon moments.” Sunny: “Well, holy fucking shit,”
Sunny said as she froze in the doorway. Teddy stumbled to a halt behind her, holding a turkey leg in his fist.
Sunny: “I’m not going to say you look like a virgin, because I don’t believe in virginity, but you look like a virgin. Hi, how are you? May I sex your body, please?” Teddy turned to me.
Teddy: “Bee, your moms are hounding me about scheduling a Christmas call with you and finding out what your wrap time on Christmas Eve is. Can you please, for the love of cheesy tots and Natty Light, call them back? Every morning, the first thing I feel is the sting of regret that I ever gave them my phone number that time they visited the set of Camp Stepbrother.” Sunny: "P.S., Mama Pam is looking fiiiiiiiine after ditching the highlights and letting the grays come in.”
Bee: “Drop it,”
I said, like she was a very naughty German Shepherd.
Sunny: “I can admire without touching and exorcize my mommy issues from a distance, thank you very much.” Steph: "I’m not even supposed to be here. I’m supposed to be at David Duchovny’s Christmas party!”
Teddy: “Isn’t he Jewish?”
Teddy had the nerve to ask.
Steph said as she opened her purse and tore the lining aside to pull out a cigarette and a matchbook.
Steph: “My emergency cigarette. Don’t tell my daughter. And some Jewish people like Christmas, you dumb shit.” “Hey, this is Bee,”
came her husky, recorded voice. Just hearing it made me close my eyes and breathe deeply for the first time since I left Christmas Notch.
“If you’re calling about a job, make sure to leave your name, number, and what date you’d need my test results by. If this is Mom or Mama Pam, I’m sorry about the thing I just said about test results. If this is Sunny or Luca and you need to be rescued from a boring date, pretend this is me telling you that my goldfish just died and I’m inconsolable. I need a friend. I need a fish wake. I need my friend in the depths of my fish grief, et cetera, et cetera.”
Beeeeep. Kallum: “You fell in love with a porn star? In the last two weeks? This is why you can’t go places alone, Nolan, I’m serious.” Sunny: “Are you calling Nolan? I can leave, or just be, like, super quiet. Oh my God, please let me stay.” Bee: “Nolan, I don’t need you to love me in private. I need you to love me in public for the whole world to see. She looked up at me, her eyes watery.
April: “I don’t want to be a burden. That’s not what a mom is supposed to be.”
I squeezed her hand hard.
Nolan: “The best thing that ever happened to me was being your kid,” April: “Is this about Bee Hobbes?”
I said, surprised.
Nolan: “Man, they’re not kidding about a mother’s intuition.”
April: “Yes, my motherly intuition. And also you keep forgetting to un-Bluetooth your phone when you let me borrow your car, and I’ve seen Bianca von Honey’s name on the radio display plenty of times. And heard her . . . noises.”
I said, my cheeks flaming.
Nolan: “Well. Um.”
April: “Go fix things, Nolan. If you think I deserve space and room, then I think you deserve to be with the person who makes you feel like you have those things too.” Because that’s what love was—more than a word, more than a mountain of the best and noblest intentions in the world. It was saying I’ll be here with you when it feels like nothing else is certain. It was saying Let the storm come, because I’ll never stop holding your hand. Isaac looked down at his glass again.
Isaac: “You know, Brooklyn and I were never out of the spotlight. Not for a moment. And there were times when it felt so hard I could scream. But no matter how hard it was”
—he dragged in a long breath—
Isaac: “it was never harder than being without her.”
I slid along the railing and pressed my shoulder against his. He allowed it, although I could feel the struggle inside him to stay still, as if he wanted to shrink away. I wondered if he’d touched anyone, even a friend or family member, since Brooklyn’s funeral.
Nolan: “I’m sorry. Brooklyn was amazing.”
he said, his voice brittle and splintered, like shards of a glass dropped on the floor.
Isaac: “She was.”
A few minutes passed like this, our shoulders warm against each other’s and the waves rushing in. Then Isaac drained his drink and pushed away from the railing.
Isaac: “You’re doing the right thing, Nolan. Even if you fail miserably and look like a giant asshole afterward, at least you’ll know that you didn’t waste a single second letting her know that you loved her.” Sunny: “Okay, good, because we have some serious roommate discussions to have,”
she said as she reached over her laptop and held up a huge black cat in front of the camera. The cat was not amused.
Sunny: “Um, please don’t be mad.”
My eyes turned into saucers.
Bee: “Is that a cat in our house? In our house that we rent that has a no-pets policy?”
She held him in her arms like a baby, and remarkably, he allowed it.
Sunny: “I got so lonely without you,”
she said with her lips in a frown.
Sunny: “I hired a cat sitter while I was in Vermont. His name is Mr. Tumnus and he loves cheese puffs.”
Bee: “Okay, well, welcome to the family, Mr. Tumnus.”
We’d have to hide him from our landlord, but I wasn’t about to orphan our firstborn child-cat. Sunny beamed.
Sunny: “Mr. Tumnus! Did you hear that! Daddy Bee loves you!” Nolan gripped the arms of his chair and turned to face the camera directly.
Nolan: “I love you, Bee Hobbes. I love you in front of the whole world.” Bee: “I love you too, Nolan. I love you in the dark. I love you in the light. I love you everywhere.”
He tilted his head up and yelled with all his might.
Nolan: “I love you, Bee Hobbes! I love you loud enough for the world to hear!”
And then he turned his face down to me, nuzzling his nose against mine.
Nolan: “I love you so much that when you’re not near me, I feel like I’m missing an actual organ,”
Bee: “That sounds like a medical emergency.”
My voice was breathy and fine as our lips brushed.
Nolan: “I think the only thing that might save me now is the boob defibrillator.”
Bee: “Doctor, I think we’re losing—”
He crushed his lips to mine, his tongue sliding into my mouth, like he was starving for me. Nolan: “You know what I think,”
I purred, tossing the condom on the duvet and kneeling between her legs.
Nolan: “I think that you liked looking at me. Even when you were mad at me.”
Bee: “More like I enjoyed looking at your embarrassing clothing choices and thinking about my own fashion superiority.”
Nolan: “Hmm. Well, in that case, I should probably turn off the light while I go down on you, because I know you’d hate to be looking up at these posters while I’ve got my tongue in your pussy. It would be a real shame if you finally got to have all your teenage fantasies come true.”
She gave me the fierce glare of someone who knew their bluff had been called.
Bee: “You better not turn off that lamp.”
Nolan: “That’s what I thought,”
I said, and then settled on my stomach between her legs, grinning up at her with my hair flopping over my forehead, mimicking the expression of the poster tacked directly above my head.
Bee: “Stop it.”
Bee: “You’re going to kill me.”
Nolan: “Shh, you don’t want your mothers to hear, do you? We don’t want them to know that my tour bus broke down outside and you’re giving me a place to stay for the night.”
Bee: “You’re ridiculous.”
She laughed again, but her laugh broke into a groan the moment I ran my tongue up her seam.
Bee: “But keep going.”
Nolan: “And how will I ever repay your generosity?”
I murmured as I searched out her clit and gave it a lingering suck.
Nolan: “I have an idea, but you can’t tell Isaac and Kallum. They’ll want to join in, and I want you all to myself.” Teddy Ray Fletcher had been through a lot of shitstorms in his life. His divorce, the time he accidentally joined a cult, a very literal storm of shit on a porn set once that had resulted in the early retirement of one performer (and the destruction of an innocent rug from Wayfair dot com). But never before Duke the Halls had he been through a shitstorm that had a happy ending.