Hello all, welcome to the first of five reviews of done on Christmas books in the run-up to the big day. My hope is by the time the 25th rolls around there’ll be a book for everyone. This little Speical of mine was originally just going to be Christmas reads but, unintentionally if you’ll believe, every single book that’s been thrown in my direction has been a romance. So it’s all a very romantic Christmas. Anyway, there are a few recommendations and a few warnings so make sure to check back every day this week if you’re looking for your Xmas read.
Author: Debbie Johnson
Who could dislike a book when the initial description for the love interest is that he looks like the main actor who’s just walked off the set of a romcom about a tragic yet talented rugby player? No one can hate that.
Anyway, I’ve been jonesing for a good heart-warmer book since December began and I’m going to spoil my review a little and say I think I found it here. Jonesing is a good choice of words since Bridget Jones is obviously a big influence for Johnson, she gets name dropped at least twice and the humour Maggie, our leading lady, the 30 something forever alone type is not a million miles away. In fact, I think she and Bridget Jones would get on well, although admittedly Bridget would be the slightly crazier of the two.
Anyway, we have Maggie, minding her own business riding along on her bike when she’s knocked off by a wrong-side-of-the-road driving American, Marco, who injuries himself in the fall. From there Maggie is heartily persuaded (coerced by pregnant witch) into helping look out for Marco while he recovers.
The book is split between their story and the mini stories of the three brides buying wedding dresses from Maggie’s shop. A shameless Love Actually style frame to show us a variety of Christmas love that I have to admit worked, with the OTT bride, the prim and proper girly bride and the final bride, who’s determined to marry her fiancée despite him being desperately ill. I have to admit the last one made me tear up, it was really well done, not overwrought with drama and very touching.
The main romance story, between Maggie and Marco, was good too. Their interactions were engaging and as varied their personalities. I might not have trusted Marco’s character to stand up alone, if you catch my drift, but Maggie’s certainly could. I loved a bit I got too late on in the book when Marco was thinking about why he loved Maggie, talking about her genuine kindness and her love for her daughter and I was just there going like ‘Yeah! You should love all those things about her!’ because the author bared Maggie’s thoughts so well throughout the story, and I genuinely thought she was a good person, without the book going ‘look at how good she is – LOOK!’ she just was. I rarely ever think that about anyone. It was all very exciting.
The cast around them get backstories too so the book sidesteps a problem a lot of romance books fall into, in that it’s not two people falling in love against a backdrop of cardboard cut outs. I’ve already mentioned the brides mini-stories, but there’s also Marco’s brother and his wife (the pregnant witch), Maggie’s father and daughter, each are given enough time for us to know them and appreciate their part without filling out the story too much – because this is a casual afternoon read, nothing more.
As you can see, I enjoyed the book. I will admit the last quarter let the whole thing down somewhat, it bogged itself down in perceived drama that didn’t really go anywhere and that I personally struggled with because I thought the problem has several rather obvious solutions. It’s not a deal breaker, just a disappointment after the rest of the book was so full of momentum and ideas.
As I’ve mentioned, it’s not a long read, but it was exactly the kind of Christmas read I was hoping for.