Tree Press, $20.49, ISBN 978-0-6151-4242-5
Contemporary Romance, 2007
Before I go on, I have to say something about Linda L Lattimer’s A Family for the Holidays that has more to do with the folks behind Tree Press than the author herself. I strongly suggest that someone reformat the book if they haven’t already (I am reading the first edition of this book) because yikes, the copyright page alone has seven different fonts in use and the indentation of the paragraphs are all over the place. This does not make the end product look professionally made.
Our heroine Victoria Miller accidentally bumps into a cute guy named Josh Miller while she is shopping. The eggs she is carrying messes up his shirt. Of course, he assures her that everything is fine and she doesn’t need to pay for the dry cleaning of his shirt. The store management also tells Victoria that she doesn’t have to pay for those broken eggs because apparently such accidents occur frequently in that supermarket. I don’t know whether I will be thrilled or scared to shop there.
This is clearly the start of a sweet romance except for one thing: Victoria, a divorcée, has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer. With a widowed mother, three kids, and a dog to take care of, Victoria has no idea how to tell them that she has cancer or how to deal with the inevitable. Who will take care of them when she undergoes chemotherapy and becomes too ill from its side-effects?
I’m afraid that at first I find it hard to be completely objective when it comes to A Family for the Holidays because I lost enough loved ones to cancer and Victoria’s feelings when it comes to telling her loved ones and worrying about how they will fare when she, who has taken care of everyone for 11 years, is gone strike a deep visceral chord in me. I don’t roll up my eyes when it turns out that Josh is a nurse at the Walter Forest Cancer Center. I don’t groan – not that much anyway – when the teenage kids in this story speak like grown-ups trying too hard to pass themselves as teenagers.
At first, that is. When Ms Lattimer begins to use her story as a soapbox to launch into her stance on matters like literacy, she’s really testing the limit of how much I can take. When this story becomes so nauseatingly sentimental, complete with artificial speeches designed to wring all tears from me passed off as dialogs, I really can’t take it any more.
I can overlook the lack of adequate editing in this book and the awkward shifts in points of view, but ultimately I can’t take it anymore when this book begins employing very obvious contrivances to make me cry. To do this, Ms Lattimer employs some of the most cringe-inducing artificial-sounding stilted dialogues since Full House got canceled. My evil heart bleeds when I have to endure such shamelessly obvious mawkish sentimentality. As much as I sympathize with Victoria and as much as I feel her pain, this story makes my hair stand on an end for all the wrong reasons.