By day, I'm a domestic violence prosecutor. By night, I read romance to restore my faith in love, relationships, and humanity in general.
This is probably the best holiday novella I've ever read, and possibly the best novella, full stop. Jenny, a microbiologist who makes her living viewing tiny organisms under a high powered microscope, moves across the country to become a research scholar, and then almost immediately receives a life-changing medical diagnosis:(show spoiler)
While working through the stages of grief related to her condition, and adjusting to her new job and new city, Jenny strikes up a serendipitous cyber relationship with the former tenant of her apartment. After several innocuous online interactions, their relationship turns to very spicy cyber sex, which is both a physical and an emotional refuge for Jenny, who is lonely and tending toward depression.
Meanwhile, Jenny also has sexual tension developing in her contentious relationship with her occupational therapist, Evan, whose job it is to help her adjust to the new reality necessitated by her medical condition.
The reader realizes much sooner than Jenny that Evan and her online lover are one and the same, and when Evan realizes and doesn't immediately tell Jenny, that could have been a huge turnoff for me (I hate intentional dishonesty tropes), and yet Mary Ann Rivers negotiates that plot twist deftly enough that both characters' motivations and reactions are both relatable and ethical.
The writing is hauntingly beautiful. I'll be thinking about this story long after finishing it, and I'll definitely read it again -- perhaps every Christmas season.