Jessica Joyce could write a grocery list or the most tedious instruction manual, and I’m pretty sure she’d still sprinkle magic into every sentence. It’s why she wrote the tiniest novelette, and I’m sitting here thinking about it hours after finishing, needing to get my feelings out. In other words, A Risk Worth Taking by Jessica Joyce is a little treat worth diving into for the holidays.
While there aren’t a ton of Christmas schmaltzy shenanigans, Joyce still bestows us with something warm and tender in the short amount of time we have. She imbues her characters with so much heart that even in a single point-of-view story, we get a chance to understand both characters intimately. And more than anything, as she did with her debut novel, You, With a View, she brings something thoughtfully binding to the forefront that allows us to believe in the attraction the characters are feeling. Theo Spencer and Noelle Shepard have their secrets, while Claire Ashford and Connor Stella have their carefulness.
As a story, A Risk Worth Taking by Jessica Joyce is a risk in and of itself. It’s hard to stick the landing with the short time we have and the lack of close understanding of the characters, yet in taking said risk and crafting a character around the very idea of care, Joyce effortlessly sticks the landing. (Quite frankly, how?! What brilliant sorcery is behind this woman’s writing?!) And it’s a story that’s especially going to hit for the people who are just like Claire—careful, calculated, and maybe even a little afraid of changes. It’s going to land right where it needs to for the people who are stuck in their own heads, wanting to push beyond their fears to finally seize the things they want. It’s especially going to hit for the people who get a little sad and lonely when the holidays roll around, making them feel like everyone around them is doing something bigger.
But that’s the beautiful thing about how life happens sometimes because the unexpected things turn into something bigger. (Hey, Siri, play Taylor Swift’s “The Great War.”) Their intense attraction is one thing, but the forced proximity allows Claire and Connor to be their most authentic selves around one another, assembling something that could last on the foundation of transparency. Joyce writes it best when she states: “I’m so used to thinking of the word careful in how it relates to the way I view the world, historically—with caution, aware of every angle of risk. I never thought of it the way Connor means right now: to literally be full of care. To be thoughtful and attentive. Diligent. When he says it, his eyes on fire, it’s a good thing, not something I have to fix.”
Sometimes, being careful is caring enough to take the next step. It’s taking care of ourselves and the people around us. It’s guarding our hearts while simultaneously opening them up to the possibility of having others care for them, too. It’s about finding something or someone to care about and wanting to hold onto it because, as human beings, we’re all searching for the same feelings, even if we go about them differently.
There’s also much to be said about the fact that this is a romance in which we can have complete confidence without a loud declaration of love. We know that they can love each other in the future because even without Claire telling us that she could, we see it fully in their interactions. It’s a bright flickering light in their heated moments, and it’s in their laughter, too. It’s in their goodbye, and it’s in their reconnecting, making the novelette like a second chance romance of sorts—the right person, wrong time. (My very favorite version of the trope, if I may add.)
So, if you’re in the market for something very short and deliciously spicy and wonderfully sweet, A Risk Worth Taking is the story you want. It’s a lovely little snow globe full of excellent writing, relatable emotions, witty banter, and a short little romance worth investing wholeheartedly in.
A Risk Worth Taking by Jessica Joyce is now available on Amazon.