Jove, $6.99, ISBN 0-515-12925-9
Contemporary Romance, 2000
If Ebeneezer Scrooge from Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol encounters Suzi Carpenter or Suzi Christmas as the Ghost of Christmas Past, that story would only be two chapters long as by then, poor Scrooge would have slipped into a diabetes-induced coma.
Really, if Jove needs my Christmas donation this early, they could at least try not to shove pure glucose at my face. All I Want for Christmas is saccharine overdose, overly-generous in its exploitation of festive season for all the cheap sentimentality it can wring out of but surprisingly stingy when it comes to plot. I feel a sugar hemorrhage coming on by chapter ten and I think I will have permanent goosebumps after this traumatic experience.
Never mind that she is having financial difficulties (don’t all contemporary heroines?), Suzi decides that hey, screw her employees’ bonuses, they would understand if she spend it all on candies and Christmas decorations instead. For every Christmas since the last nine years, she turns her house into some sort of disco-gone-haywire tacky galactica of a Christmas bauble, attracting visitors from all over the country too cheap to pay for Disneyland. When a neighbor starts suing this woman, she goes to radio and the papers – all the while saying she’s only doing this for Christmas, of course – and rally all the overemotional, hysterical fans of Hallmark to her cause.
Luke Potter, the Scrooge, however, sees our babelicious airhead and decides to court her. Under the name of “Nicholas Claus” – ha ha ha, that’s so-ooo-ooo hilarious! Predictably, our heroine hasn’t a clue, falls right away, and our hero has doubts about his seductive scheme. He wants to confess everything, but does he? No way. She finds out eventually, goes hysterical, and finally, forgives him because, oh, he has a lousy childhood, of course he can’t help being a jerk.
Predictable is one thing. Skin-crawling nauseous in the sweet and cute factor is another thing altogether. Suzi Christmas’s idea of a foul word is “Grinch! Scrooge!” Her idea of a date with Luke is to go carolling and going “Awww!” over poor lil’ kiddies. This walking Christmas card remains an airhead through and through, ironic considering Luke’s character is better developed. Luke becomes almost human by the epilogue, while Suzi becomes flatter and flatter like the greeting card she is as the story progresses. By the epilogue, she isn’t even human. She’s a convenient, unrealistic Christmas Care Bear.
There’s even a grand fake ctastrophe at the last chapter to milk the already bleating piteously Christmas cash cow drier than dry.
Readers who are allergic to heinous, ersatz, and plastic romantic stories best stay away. All I Want for Christmas may just send them into a sugar shock. Lobotomy will seem more preferable to this Christmas-exploitation horror.