Saturday, December 5, 2020

Review: Happily This Christmas by Susan Mallery

by Susan Mallery
Release Date: September 29th 2020
2020 HQN Books
Hardcover Edition; 384 Pages
ISBN: 978-1488056079
Genre: Fiction / Contemporary / Holiday
Source: Review copy from publisher

3 / 5 Stars

Wynn Beauchene has a thriving business, a great kid and a mildly embarrassing crush on the guy next door—local cop Garrick McCabe. She’s a strong, independent woman who can’t help dreaming what-if about a man she barely knows. Until he needs her help…

Garrick’s pregnant daughter will be home for Christmas, and his house needs a woman’s touch. Garrick and his little girl were tight once and he’s hoping a small-town Christmas will bring her back to him. But thawing his daughter’s frosty attitude will take more than a few twinkle lights. Maybe sharing the holiday with Wynn and her son will remind her of the joy of family.
My Thoughts
Happily This Christmas is one of those books that I actually picked up and put down a few times before actually reading as I wasn't overly crazy about the last book and I was unsure about what would happen in this one. I was ready however, to finally learn Wynn Beauchene's story so curiosity finally overcame my trepidation and took the chance.  To be honest, I feel like giving it three stars is a bit generous, but I will do so simply because I enjoyed the second half of the book quite a bit. Far more than the first half.  I truly don't understand why authors always have to include characters that are truly awful for no apparent reason that I could see other than to create drama and conflict, but not always an enjoyable conflict, if you get my meaning.  
First of all, I do like both Wynn and Garrick, but I am not sure I really like them together.  Either that or the book really failed in the romance department because I just didn't feel that connection between them in this book, that real spark that exists between two people.  And the fact that Garrick had to deal with his cranky and pregnant daughter really had nothing to do with it.  I mean, these two are adults in their thirties, I'm sure they could have found a way to be together if they really wanted; if teenagers can do so, you would think two adults can find a way.  So, if you are looking for some steamy romance, you are not going to find it in this book.  
And that brings me to the wayward daughter, Joylyn. Yes, she had the greatest character development in this book, but she was also the worst character in this book.  It just felt like the author had to find a way to create drama and this was the path that was chosen, other than Wynn's 'big' secret, which was not really a secret, and was kind of silly and not all that unsual. I really wasn't a fan of Garrick's ex-wife as she just threw Joylyn out of her house for Garrick to deal with her behaviour and then wanted her back as soon as she started to be nice to people.  Really? And Joylyn's reasons for not wanting to speak to her dad all of these years were so far-fetched I had to shake my head. I'm not opposed to drama, but not whiny, spoiled behaviour type of drama like this that was created because the book would be bland otherwise.
The plot was a bit all over the place for me. I almost did not finish the book while I was in the first half of it, but it did pick up quite a bit in the second half so I am glad I did finish it.  There were elements in it that I did truly enjoy and I thought Wynn's son was fantastic, probably the best character of the bunch. And I am always glad to visit with previous characters and see how they are doing so that is always a plus.   

Happily This Christmas is definitely one of my least favourite of the Happily Inc books.  I really feel like the author is going more for the high drama and angst rather than the romance and connection that made the first couple of books so enjoyable.  Unfortunately, if these books continue down this path, I think it is time that Happily Inc and I go our separate ways, which makes me sad.  



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