Samhain Publishing, $5.50, ISBN 978-1-61923-130-6
Contemporary Romance, 2015
Now how is this for a soap opera? Jennifer McClendon and Simeon Baker – not to be confused with Simon Baker, of course – once had a nice thing going while she did her “I was dumped, so I went to this island and met a hot guy!” thing that every other heroine in a romance novel featuring black characters has to go through before she finds love. He was supposed to call her, but he never did. She repeatedly called and left messages for him, but nothing – silence. This is a most inconvenient situation, because, oops, baby. Wait, not a baby – twins.
“I don’t understand how I could be pregnant. I’ve had my period,” Jennifer said adamantly. She had to admit she thought it was a bit lighter than it usually was, but she’d had one just the same. The thought of her being pregnant was ridiculous since she hadn’t slept with any other man since Simeon. There had to be another explanation for the tender breasts, being tired all the time, and of course, the nausea. Maybe it was the Chinese food I ate last night.
Oh darling, do we need a PowerPoint presentation to drive home the Biology 101?
But Simeon has a good excuse for going silent on his end: he was subsequently in a really bad car accident. It is only three years later when he can finally drive a car on his own. He can’t call because her number was on his phone, which was destroyed in the accident. Anyway, he soon bumps into Jennifer and his daughter, and she talks to him coolly, as if she isn’t too happy to see him. Considering that he hasn’t called for three years and only bumps into her by chance, I don’t know why he expects any other kind of reception. Maybe his accident has dislodged a few synapses in the brain.
Jennifer is annoyed.
It was strange that after all that time she’d come face to face with him now. She wondered if he realized that Mariah was his daughter. He had to know she was his and yet he didn’t care enough to contact her to at least let her know that he got the message. Tears formed in her eyes and her lip quivered as she secured Mariah in her safety seat in the back of her minivan. She was supposed to go to the grand opening of Faith’s new boutique Made to Order by Faith, but she was too rattled. The best thing she could do now was go home and rest. Seeing Simeon again brought back too much pain for her and she didn’t want to spoil her sister’s happy occasion.
How dare Simeon cannot know at once that she has stayed celibate in the last three years and that the brat is his! Isn’t a man supposed to be able to read a woman’s mind?
Now that Simeon knows that she hangs out at a store in the neighborhood (it is actually the store of her sister), he decides to pick up from where they last left off. It’s too bad that these two are singularly awful – really awful – at communication.
A simple explanation from Simeon, as to how he’d like to have called her but the accident prevented him from doing so, would have cleared the air considerably, so of course he can’t tell her until much later. He needs to “absorb” the situation first, you know. He also doesn’t understand why Jennifer told her she was not pregnant when they said goodbye, only to end up pregnant later. I think this is another fellow who failed biology class if he thinks a woman is supposed to instinctively know when and if she is pregnant after sex. Meanwhile, Jennifer is annoyed because he can’t immediately tell that her children is his, or that he assumes that another man may have been the father, How dare he assume that she may have slept with another guy during the next three years after they went goodbye – what kind of woman does he think she is?
And on and on these two go, reconciling just time for Christmas, much to the happiness of the secondary cast milling around them.
I’m so glad that these two are finally happy together, but there is no denying that The Christmas Promise relies on an awkwardly designed lack of communication issue to prolong the drama between the main characters. The story, as a result, feels really contrived. The two characters behave much more reasonably once he tells her about his accident, but why does it take so long for him to do that? I find myself often wishing for someone to knock some sense into these two unnecessarily melodramatic people instead of rooting for them to be happy. If the author had come up with a more believable reason as to why these two people would keep having issues with one another, the story would have been a much better read.