Twelve Days
by Teresa Hill, contemporary (2000)
Signet, $5.99, ISBN 0-451-20145-0

Twelve years of marriage on the brink of kaput!, to be saved in twelve days when the two estranged spouses have to take in three orphans. I tell you, only in romance novels or feel-good TV movies.

That's not to say I'm a 100% cynic. Done right, these stories can be uplifting. Twelve Days is obviously a Christmas novel, if the title alone doesn't tell me that, however, so boy, does it spread the muzak thickly over the pages. It's about two Scrooges, Rachel and Sam McRae, who are not on speaking terms. Twelve years of marriage have taken their toll. So when three kids found at a hotel room are sent to their doorsteps by Aunt Miriam, a social worker, well, the kids become unpaid underage matchmaking pixies for these two.

I would be okay if the whole premise if it isn't so boring and predictable. Why the breakdown? Readers of too many second-time-marriage stories would have seen it coming a mile away: problems conceiving, spontaneous abortion, and subsequent inability to conceive. I'm not making light of these issues, of course, but I am annoyed by the use of this plot device in yet another tale of this ilk. Never mind, maybe the rest of the story wouldn't be this predictable, I think. Ever the optimist.

Well, no. Again, I am subjected to the barrage of predictable behavior from these two adults. Both won't talk. Both think the worst of themselves. Both leave too easily, thinking that the other wants him or her to leave. And therefore, everyone's a crucified martyr, just in time for the season. Ho ho ho.

The kids? They're very well-done, I must say. Not too cute, not to sweet, and they all act their age. I must say a big thank you to the author for not cashing in on the Christmas sentimentality and make these kids overly cute or giggly. But I must say it is telling when I close this book thinking that these kids show way more maturity and adult behavior than those two so-called adult martyrs.

Maybe if this is a pure happy-ho-ho story about a happy couple adopting sad kids, things may be much better. But instead, Twelve Days present two predictable self-absorbed, passive, depressive martyrs that take ages to get out of their pity party adopting three miserable kids. Sure, people get depressed around Christmas sometimes, but predictable? Naaah.

You can bet I don't want those two ninnies caroling at my doorstep this Christmas. The three kids are welcome though.

Rating: 51

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