Top critical review
Look For Your Ho-Ho-Ho's Elsewhere
Reviewed in the United States on November 6, 2015
For someone looking for a simple read with a tiny dash of Christmas thrown in & no real expectations from the story other than to kill some time, this will do the trick, but other readers may not be so pleased. The very end of the story takes place on/right before Christmas, enough so the use of Christmas in the title makes sense, but if you're looking for true holiday warmth, you won't find it in this book.
The story begins quickly, & one of it's strengths is it has beautiful imagery, but the story falls short in many areas which is frustrating. The main character is half Hawaiian, but speaks like she's confused as to why she's not in a Victorian novel or a self-help book, comes from Canada, & is so "sweet, gentle, nice, & attractive but endearingly klutzy" who then goes through the personal uncertainty that she's not good enough for the male protagonist, & is constantly going against her normal behavior, but does so without 2nd guessing herself or hesitation, & on & on until you feel like she is several multiple characters all mashed together with multiple issues & faults, but nothing was truly focused on or was a part of her personality for her to work on, learn from, overcome, etc., it was just there to throw another curve or bump in the road, & it became tiring.
Some of the backgrounds & explanations are spotty; she initially traveled to the island to settle her mother's ashes & meet/assist her aunt, & unless I totally missed that part, I didn't read the resolution about the ashes. Even the burial of her aunt was kind of skipped over; did she place the sisters together? The male "angel" was a nice, comforting addition to the book, his personality was enjoyable, but even his story leaves you with more questions than answers. I understand who he was in the end, but his promise to her mother than she'd be happy happened when again? And if her mom was so worried about her happiness, why'd she spend her life trying to make everyone around her miserable, esp. if her end goal was her daughter's happiness? It's like every character was placed there to have a singular purpose in moving the main character's story along, & then was written out to make it smoother. The mother? To give this sweet woman trials, & to make her selfless, angelic behavior more obvious, (& to get her to the island). Her aunt drops some info about her mom, leaves her with a new reason to stay on the island, & promptly passes. The evil ex girlfriend is there to cause a misunderstanding, but really doesn't impact anyone or anything & is no real threat. The daughter that was presumed dead then reappears is just there to cause last minute tension & drama, but leaves very easily. There's a lot of hop-skip-jumping in reasoning and story telling, & the reader is just meant to make the leap & ignore any missing blanks. The main male character flips from aggravated anti-woman to heroic love interest with little-to-no real interaction or time to fall in love between the two protagonists, but she's pretty, & he can "see" her honesty, & she doesn't mock his "dabbling."
The main female character is from Canada, & yet, she says "aye," not the standard Canadian "eh?" which makes her come across as a pirate. I've yet to meet or speak with a Canadian who doesn't say "eh?" but I have NEVER encountered one who says "aye," and while that might just come across as a spelling preference for some who can't hear the tonal different, it truly isn't. As a story can only set the scene & paint the picture of the tale to speak to the readers by it's words, word choice MATTERS. Captain Jack Sparrow says "aye," but Candian's say "eh?" (frequently, in fact).
Also, the author has multiple places throughout the story where she turns a statement into a question by her use of a question mark. I don't know if the editor just missed it, or if the author really thought those areas were questions, but...they aren't. When greeting someone, who asks "It's nice to meet you?" as if they aren't sure, or are looking for validation? Nobody, which is why people don't respond with, "Yes, you're right, it is VERY nice to meet me."
The smidgen of Christmas in the book may qualify it as a holiday read under the strictest parameters, & at the end, it was confusing for a minute, as it almost appeared as though the "angel" might have been Santa, but then it clarified in a roundabout way who the angel was, which in it's own reveal brought more questions to the reader that weren't answered. When it comes down to it, if you're looking for a real holiday read, solid, satisfying, & holiday-filled, this isn't what you're looking for.