Twelve Days of Christmas by Debbie Macomber
Synopsis from publisher:
“Continuing in a festive annual tradition, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber returns with a new original holiday novel full of romance and cheer—and the magical prospect of finding love in even the most guarded hearts.
Friendly and bubbly, Julia Padden likes nearly everyone, but her standoffish neighbor, Cain Maddox, presents a particular challenge. No matter how hard she’s tried to be nice, Cain rudely rebuffs her at every turn, preferring to keep to himself. But when Julia catches Cain stealing her newspaper from the lobby of their apartment building, that’s the last straw. She’s going to break through Cain’s Scrooge-like exterior the only way she knows how: by killing him with kindness.
To track her progress, Julia starts a blog called The Twelve Days of Christmas. Her first attempts to humanize Cain are far from successful. Julia brings him homemade Christmas treats and the disagreeable grinch won’t even accept them. Meanwhile, Julie’s blog becomes an online sensation, as an astonishing number of people start following her adventures. Julia continues to find ways to express kindness and, little by little, chips away at Cain’s gruff façade to reveal the caring man underneath. Unbelievably, Julia feels herself falling for Cain—and she suspects that he may be falling for her as well. But as the popularity of her blog continues to grow, Julia must decide if telling Cain the truth about having chronicled their relationship to the rest of the world is worth risking their chance at love.”
I’ve enjoyed Debbie Macomber’s Christmas-themed romances since I first started reading them, and this one is no different. Now, I realize that it’s only October and isn’t even close to time to think about Christmas, but since this book was released in October, I’m writing about it now. Don’t worry, though — closer to the holidays, I’ll be posting some of my favorite holiday-themed books.
This book basically read like a fun Lifetime movie (and not one of the ones where the wife/girlfriend kills the husband/boyfriend or where a teenage girl is stalked by the so-called nice guy she was dating). I could picture the casting for Julia and Cain perfectly, even though for some reason I always pictured her in an elf costume (I do watch quite a lot of made-for-TV Christmas movies). Elf costume aside, I really loved that I could see this playing out visually.
The plot was fun and light, and I love the idea of killing someone with kindness. (It really does get that Selena Gomez song stuck in my head, though.) I was surprised at how easy it was for Julia to win Cain over, but I thought some of her blogging insights cleared up why it made sense in the book. And besides, it’s supposed to be a light holiday romance, and for that to work, we all have to suspend our disbelief. If they’re supposed to fall in love by Christmas, they certainly can’t react lukewarmly to neighborly gestures.
If I had a criticism, it would be that the characters and plot don’t have much depth, but honestly, I don’t expect depth in something like this. I think too much depth in a book like this takes away from the light and fun elements it has going for it. Normally, I prefer complex characters and situations, but when I’m reading something for the sole purpose of feeling happier (and isn’t that what books like this are for?), I don’t mind characters who are a little less developed. And don’t get me wrong — there are some interesting tidbits revealed about each of the characters’ pasts, but their desires are pretty straightforward. It doesn’t bother me in this type of book, so I didn’t really dock any points for it.
Twelve Days of Christmas is exactly what it promises to be: a straight-up, clean romance with a happily ever after, all set during the Christmas season. I think it succeeds at what it sets out to do, which is make you feel good all the way through, even if you have a few small worries along the way. I gave it four stars because, really, what more could you want at Christmas than a feel-good book with a happy ending?
*ARC from Random House Ballantine via NetGalley