Title: The Christmas Village
Author: Linda Andrews
Published in 2003 by Zumaya Publications
Always the bridesmaid, never the bride. It is a familiar expression to Egypt Starr, and she can’t help thinking about it as she packs to go to her sister’s wedding, the fourteenth she has experienced as a bridesmaid. If that wasn’t hard enough to deal with, all fourteen grooms were ex-boyfriends of hers, who ditched her the moment they met one of her friends, and now in this latest blow to her heart, her sister. She has given up. She no longer believes that anyone is meant for her, she is just a conduit for others to find their true love. She breaks them in, and someone else walks them down the aisle.
She knows she probably shouldn’t drive through the snowy mountains of eastern Arizona in her beat up heap of a car, but what choice does she have? She has her sister’s wedding dress. Sure enough, she breaks down in the middle of a frozen forest, lost and alone. Well, not exactly alone, she has a teddy bear hamster, and a cat named Nutz to care for. Determined to find some shelter so they don’t all freeze, she sets off down the road, only to be nearly crushed by a speeding sleigh complete with reindeer, and the surliest, sexiest, jerk-of-a-yuletide-knight-in-shining-armor she has ever met.
Cade Dugan has every right to be a surly jerk. He had been cursed by his own artwork. Cade is an artist who sculpted a very popular Christmas Village collection sold in stores during the holidays all over the country. He based his designs after his Christmas-card-perfect little town of Holly. He also sculpted the figurines after people he knew. Unfortunately for him, every time he has sculpted an imaginary woman as a match for a single man he knows, that woman mysteriously shows up in town, and the two are destined to fall in love. After losing a bet, his brother makes him sculpt his own soul mate. Now he is hounded, stalked, and occasionally attacked by desperate women who believe in the magic of the figurines. Every single one of them dresses up like the figurine of the girl in a blue coat, and chases him around, demanding he propose to her. And to make matters worse, the townsfolk have started taking bets on when the right blue-coat will come along. They are not above sabotage to make sure Cade meets lots of the infernal blue-coats on the day they are betting on.
When he nearly runs another of these self-absorbed, desperate, crazy blue-coats over in his sleigh, he is more than a little annoyed at the lengths she would go to, to try to get her hooks in him. Still, he can’t leave the poor, albeit demanding, witty, combative, and hot-as-all-get–out, girl out in the snow, and the honest attraction between them is disturbing.
After insulting her, confusing her, and trying to convince her he is the world’s worst possible catch, his is shocked to discover that she is an outsider who honestly doesn’t know about the figurines. She is just a poor girl who broke down in the snow on the way to her sister’s wedding, and needed a phone and a mechanic. She is also the one girl he was destined to love. Now, not only does he have to fix her car that is being held together with duct tape, he has a long row to hoe to convince her that he is not the jerk he made himself out to be, and that he is the one man who would never abandon her for someone else. Only the true magic of Christmas can help bring these two together in this delightful little tale by Linda Andrews.
The Christmas Village is a witty and entertaining story with a well described and delightful setting, engaging and humorous characters you can’t help rooting for, and a premise that is original and fun. The story has the potential for sequels, since Cade would like to inflict some revenge on his three single brothers, and intends on creating figurine soul mates for each of them. It also has the potential for prequels, since there are three figurine couples already living in town.
Overall I found the book endearing and engaging, however, there were places that were difficult to read for two reasons. Sometimes the dialogue was not grounded enough to understand what the characters were talking about. They would refer to things that they know about, without giving the reader enough to understand what had happened in the past. Also, on occasion the narrative felt disjointed due to an overdependence on really exciting active verbs. The character’s actions became lost in the muddle, as their gum, and the snow, and their body parts, words, tools, and even their emotions did things around them seemingly without their control. It led to an almost passive feel to the narrative, which is ironic considering the active verbs, because who was actually doing things, and feeling things, and experiencing things, was lost the same way the subject is put aside in a passive sentence.
That said, I still enjoyed every moment of The Christmas Village by Linda Andrews, from Zumaya Publications. I giggled, I cheered, and I even sighed for the hero and heroine and their impossible situations. It was an entertaining book worth reading, and would make a fantastic movie.