The topic of this month is Holiday Themes (Christmas, Valentine's Day, any holiday!)
My Rating: 5-1-2 stars
In December we have to choose something related to Holiday. And as it’s December an obvious book was this Christmas anthology.
It was in my TBR pile because, as I have already written here, Jennifer Crusie is one of my favourite authors. And step by step, little by little, I’m trying to read all her backlist.
OK. Disclaimer. I’m not a very Christmas person. I enjoy the holidays, of course, and drinking and eating, and children & husband not going to school/work –remember, in Spain Christmas goes more or less from 22nd December up to 7th January, so I’m talking about a fortnight here. But these are stressful times –the gifts, who is going to host the party, the relatives you didn’t want to see –or they didn’t want to see you- in the whole year so why have I got to smile at them now and pretend we care for each other when we don’t? I’m one of those people lucky enough to have a job that can make me work at Christmas times so I’ve got the perfect excuse to avoid people I don’t want to be with. And apart from that, my significant other and I prefer to travel with the children if I can manage a few job-free days. So if I have to get social, I prefer to share my good and jolly times with those wonderful people that have been with us in the hard times. And this has been a bad year for us, I can tell you.
So, I bought this Christmas anthology and let the dust settle over it, because –I’m just not a Christmas person. Thanks to the TBR Challenge, I took it from the pile and hello! I loved the Jennifer Crusie’s story, ‘Hot Toy’. I’ve seen that this story won the 2006 All About Romance Reader Award in the Best Short Story category, and I can tell you, it deserved it.
It was a funny and quick read; I just fell in love with the characters. It’s about a young woman, Trudy, who is desperately seeking for ‘the toy’ of that year. If you have children you know what that means –looking for it everywhere, asking family and friends to look for it in their owns towns, going crazy over the Internet searching for a place that can send it to you on time... Here that toy is a MacGuffin –literally, that’s its name. And of course, it acts like one, as the thing everybody is looking for, and you cannot care less for it, but for the things they do and think and feel in order to get it.
So here we’ve got a very courageous Trudy. Her sister and her nephew are coping with the disappearance of the husband & father –who went away to the Caribbean with the young nanny. Trudy feels she is the one who has to give them a real Christmas, so she will do whatever is necessary to find this damned MacGuffin and she does not give a shit if the whole CIA or FBI or NSA or anyone else wants it too.
Not even Nolan, that sexy man who went away with Trudy a couple of times and then did not call her again. When she finds him in a store looking for the same toy, she thinks she’s over it –but she isn´t. He wants the toy and a second chance with Trudy. He’s so sorry he didn’t call.
‘Work got crazy’ –he said.“You’re a literature professor,” Trudy said. “Chinese literature. How can that get craz-“
There were moments of laughing out loud, because Trudy is a real no-nonsense woman, and she needs the toy. And how this ends up being as the blurb says ... Mayhem ensues under the mistletoe as a determined shopper grabs the very last hot toy action figure off the shelf, only to find herself plunged into the middle of a real-life spy game--in the arms of a sexy secret agent... Well, I’m not going to tell you, you just have to buy it.
This Crusie’s story is exactly what a novella should be. It’s got the rhythm, the short but accurate development of characters, they know each other before the story begins so their happy ending is believable, it’s funny, and you cannot stop reading until the very end. Who can expect anything better in this format? That’s a 5 stars novella for me.
If you want to read it, you’re fortunate, as I’ve seen that this story can be bought in Kindle now separately.
So you don’t have to buy the old book –as I did- and read the other two stories. I didn’t like them. They are not worth the price. Both of them are office romances, so if that’s your catnip, then these could be for you. Both of them have been written by authors I had never read before, and although it’s very unfair to judge anybody from just one book -moreover, a season novella-, there was nothing in those stories that made me curious to try anything else by these authors.
Lori Foster wrote ‘Christmas Bonus’ a story that had previously appeared in All I Want for Christmas in 2000. Maggie is the very young owner of the firm, which she has inherited from her father. And Eric was her late father’s right hand. Eric expected to get the firm when the father died but it passed to Maggie so Eric does not want anybody to think he would marry for money therefore he feigns a disinterest towards the firm and the girl that he is far from feeling. The thing is, they both have been lusting for each other for many years -Six? Seven? A decade? But of course, none of them has done anything about it. Considering they met when she was sixteen and he was close to thirty, well, I just ground my teeth - I just couldn’t stand it. I was thinking about my children and someone from my office and I said no way! I’d go for their eyes; I wouldn’t leave the firm to the girl in order to let her have the man she wants. Apart from that it was quite a boring story because there was nothing else but both of them wanting each other. And that made me think about my personal tastes. I usually favour romances with something else, apart from the love story. I need something to drive the plot forward. There was nothing here. Add a very contrived lost paper and a cheesy end and voilà, this is what I rate as a 1 star story.
Carly Phillips wrote ‘Naughty Under the Mistletoe’ a story that had previously appeared in Naughty or Nice? in 2001. Another office romance. Toni wants Stephan. Both of them work for the same firm. But under the mistletoe, she ends kissing Maxwell, Stephan’s twin. And she can tell both of them apart just from that kiss because that’s what happens in Romanceland, if you are a twin and there’s only one girl who can tell you apart from your brother, then she’s the one. And that’s it, I forgot the rest of the story. I have read this book a week ago and I just don’t remember how the rest of it goes! So I guess that makes this story quite forgettable. I just know that I liked it a little bit more that the Lori Foster’s story so that’s why I put a 2 stars rating.
This is the last TBR Challenge of this year. It’s been a little bit difficult writing all these reviews in my broken English. But I’m ready to keep on doing the same next year. Because it’s fun, you know. I would recommend anyone to try it. Hope to see you next year.