October 2012, Contemporary Romance
Zebra, $6.99, 352 pages, Amazon ASIN 1420122126
Each December I try to read at least one Christmas romance. I intended to finish Together For Christmas quickly so the review could go up well before the holiday. But not only did I quickly realize that I would not recommend this, it’s such a hot mess that reading 10 pages a day was about all I could tolerate.
Casey Jackson is a hotshot trouble-shooter at one of L.A.’s top talent agencies. When things go wrong, Casey’s the man to fix them. His latest job is to figure out what’s going wrong with singer Heather Miller’s holiday special being filmed in Kismet, Michigan. Casey hates Christmas, so being stuck in Kismet over the holidays sounds horrific to him, as the residents of Kismet go all out for Christmas. The smells of gingerbread waft through streets filled with Santas and adorable children dressed like elves. There are gingerbread house contests, eggnog drinking, paper snowflake making, and every other Christmas activity one can imagine.
The plot is convoluted and secondary to a series of scenes depicting various Christmas activities in Kismet. While Casey is supposed to be bright, Heather convinces him the reason her special is having problems is that her “little” sister is interfering and Casey needs to keep her away from the set. Casey expects to babysit a star-struck adolescent, but instead discovers Kristen owns the local diner. But instead of doing anything to help get the special back on track, Casey sets up an “office” in Kristen’s diner.
Kristen loves Christmas and feels her holiday has been sabotaged by her sister’s unexpected arrival. Kristen feels abandoned by her friends and parents who are captivated by all things Heather. Kristen’s convinced Casey is a scrooge, but he’s hot. Casey is convinced Kristen is a nutcase for loving Christmas, but she’s hot.
The author crams too much into this book and it all comes up short. In addition to Kristen and Casey’s relationship, there’s one between Heather and the construction manager for her special, and another between two employees at Kristen’s restaurant. Throw in the arrival in town of Casey’s longtime nemesis, and it’s too much. I’ve read good romances with multiple relationships, but this isn’t one of them. Too much happens off-page in each of the relationships. Instead of focusing on character development and key points in the relationships, we’re treated to snippets, with the focus squarely on sweet Christmas scenes. We’re told about interesting scenes that occur between the various couples after the fact, but do not get to experience them.
As for Casey and Kristen, it’s hard to figure either of them out. Casey’s hard; he’s a softie. Take your pick. It shifts from paragraph to paragraph. One minute he’s Scrooge ignoring all the cute kids in elf suits. The next he’s practically tearing up at the “reserved” sign set aside for him on a table in Kristen’s diner, making him feel like part of something.
I’ll have to concede that the author didn’t take the expected route and make Kristen the sweet, virginal woman one might expect given her love of Christmas and all things corny. No, she’s self-assured sexually, and thinks nothing of a casual affair; in fact that’s what she says she wants with Casey. I just couldn’t get into the story enough to care about anyone in it.
If you’re still looking for Christmas romances, I’d give this one a pass. As for me, I’ll definitely give a Christmas romance a try in about 11 months; it just won’t be set in Kismet.
-- LinnieGayl Kimmel
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