esKape Press, $0.99, ISBN 978-1-940695-06-8
Contemporary Romance, 2013
This month, the theme of the TBR Review Challenge is books with covers either pretty or ghastly enough to coax me to pick them up. Still Christmas is around the corner, I guess I’ll skip the covers with beefcake nipples and opt for lovelier, more wholesome ones. Patricia Kiyono’s Christmas Wishes has a gorgeous cover, but given that I am old school and my eyes don’t agree much with reading on my phone, this one ended up languishing in my huge digital TBR pile after I purchased it ages ago.
Wait, maybe I should have saved this one for next month… but never mind, I’ll look for something with seasonal beefcake nipples from my TBR pile then.
This is a small town romance with a simple premise. Mitch Carson, a photographer, moved to Zutphen, Michigan a few months ago with his precocious, annoying cutesy “I’m written for a Lifetime movie” daughter Angie. With a possible custody battle brewing in the future, he hopes to get the chance to set up a stable life with both him and his daughter here. When the story opens, he meets Sophie Gardner, a lovely young lady who wins both the hearts of him and Angie, but she has plans to leave for the big city. Can these two ever find a happily ever after together?
Don’t worry, this is a small town romance, so of course Sophie discovers that she doesn’t need a career when she has a man that comes with a handy daughter for her to finally find a family of her own, et cetera. If you think that is a spoiler, ahem, small town romance. What do you expect? There is a quasi-villain here who exists to dish out over-the-top small towns-are-icky lines, so it should be no surprise that small town is the be all and end all of everything wholesome and awesome.
The thing is, Christmas Wishes is more of a small town fiction than romance. The two main characters barely interact for huge swathes of the story, as they are more intent on meeting and chatting with townsfolk in the neighborhood. These two think a lot about how nice the other person is, but they don’t talk or spend time together long enough to make their abrupt feelings for one another believable. Instead, the author does the worst possible thing here: make that creepy six-year old daughter the plot device that forces these two to hook up in the last two chapters. Even then, I’m not sure whether I buy the romance. Sophie and Mitch may seem like they like one another, sure, but love? Tell me another story.
Still, perhaps because Christmas is around the corner and I’m feeling a bit sentimental, this one still manages to be a pleasant, charming kind of read. I actually get some warm fuzzy feelings from reading some of the interactions between the characters in this story here, and there are even moments when Angie is almost like an actual human being. Almost. Therefore, while I have a hard time buying the romance and I’d likely to forget this story a few days later, this one isn’t too bad. The romance is actually its weakest link. Maybe the author should have ditched the romance and just serve up a small town fiction instead.