BOOK REVIEW (38): The Twelve Nights of Christmas

BOOK REVIEW:
The Twelve Nights of Christmas
 
 
Okay! #3 of the five-book Christmas-themed reading challenge: The Twelve Nights of Christmas. And this book actually totally works for the 19th—because the story opens on the 19th! Happy December nineteenth, otherwise known as the simultaneously and paradoxically Worst Day (and Best Day) of Evie’s soon-to-be enchanted love story…
Because Whoa! Is it enchanted and fluffy and just nothing but a Christmas fairy tale? I mean I feel like I haven’t read a Harlequin Presents in YEARS when in fact it’s only been 2 months-ish. I forgot how extravagant and over-the-top and fairy tale-like this specific category romance can be…
Still I love the series for the same reasons I sometimes can’t stand it. I roll my eyes and laugh so hard with only the Presents line. And I might be totally masochistic, but it’s my idea of a Perfect Literary Escape. Kinda like how I love my East Asian dramas, Bollywood films, and telenovelas…same craziness abounds in those (more visual) plotlines.
Back to our heroine Evie Anderson and hero Salvatorio “Rio” Zaccarelli. Let’s start with Evie, not because the story actually kicks off from her perspective—no we get some cryptic hint that Rio is hiding the news of a massive “deal” coming through, but more on that later!
I love Evie. And I hate Evie, too.
Oh what do I love about Evie—how can I number the stars…and such junk?
First up Evie’s a redhead. Hello? That’s cool in and of itself. Of course Rio finds out very early on she’s a *ahem* natural redhead when he finds her au naturel in his bed. Yeah. I mean that was definitely almost me falling flat on my face from the poor suspense of disbelief.
I thought that maybe she was in her panties, but apparently not. And at one point I think Rio’s body guard is still in the room with them and Rio pulls off her sheet and, though it isn’t mentioned, the bodyguard should have gotten the full monty from Evie. Which if it’s true loses a brownie point—how can I believe she cares about her barest (haha, lame pun not intended) dignity if she’s flashing her behind to everyone.
Whenever I’m reading from Evie’s perspective, I find I want to argue more. Here are two examples (the second of the pair will be a SPOILER. I’ll remind you.):
1) On pgs. 136-137, Evie and Rio are at a ball doing what guests at a ball do: dancing and Evie first notices “the heat of [Rio’s] body against hers” and then on the next page over (137) it reads “Evie felt frozen and she thought absently that there was no reason to b cold when the room was so warm, but then she realised that the chill came from him. His skin was cold to touch […]”.
Okay. What?!
Did anyone else think that Rio died on the ball floor while dancing? Haha. No I’m just over-exaggerating there, but it was pretty weird. And this dramatic body temperature change is due to Evie’s mentioning of Christmas (again) and how much she loves “this time of year” (pg. 137). And, of course, one half of the couple in an opposites attract has to totally despise Christmas. (Though to be fair, the author actually gives Rio a darn good reason to hate Christmas).
2) SPOILER ALERT:
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With that significant warning I can hopefully write/tell you that…Rio is a father. He has a little girl named Elyssa and that’s all you need to know about.
So in the epilogue Elyssa, Rio, Evie and their new baby girl, Lara, are celebrating their first Christmas (a year later! Phew. They work fast) as a family. And Rio has is now the sole caretaker of his daughter. And the proud parents are delighted when Elyssa calls her stepmother, Evie, “Mummy”. And everyone seems to be forgetting in the moment that Elyssa has a friggin’ mother. Albeit a really horrible-sounding woman, but a mother she was raised with for the first four years of her life.
And Rio totally encourages it and takes it to the next level, and I present Case #2: “It’s snowing! Mummy, Daddy, we’re going to have snow for Christmas. Can we build a snowman? Do you know how?”
Rio brushed the snow from Evie’s cheek. “Yes, I know how. We need a carrot and some pebbles and a few twigs. And we need your motherbecause she’s brilliant at building snowmen.”
Uh huh. Yeah, really?
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But thanks to Ms. Morgan for making Evie really funny! And making that whole mother bullplop easier to tolerate…
I mean she’s the only heroine who says what she’s thinking. It’s just literally out there on the page in dialogue format with the quotes around it indicating she’s just spilling her thoughts. She doesn’t beat around the bush. She’ll just belt out her rendition of her favourite Christmassy song, Twelve Nights up on the table tops of charity events. It’s all water down the open back of her silvery dress.
Sure, she talks like she belongs in a mid- to late twentieth century world (think 1950s to 70s), but then there’s the confidence. Surprisingly there are not a lot of heroines out there who will just tell a guy they like him.
“You were in a hurry last night,” he said silkily (for a second time actually! What the hell does this mean anyways? ‘Silkily’? How do you say something ‘silkily’? *_*) “Or was the champagne to blame for your sudden transformation from virgin to vamp?”
She sucked in a breath, mortified at his blatant reminder of her own desperation. “No,” she said softly. “It was you.”
See! Just lies it out there, Evie does—so thankfully Rio knows how to pick up the ball and there isn’t a lot of relationship pussy-footing that seems utterly pointless as in the couple actually has a reason not to be together.
And as much as I genuinely love that Evie’s a breath of fresh air compared to the lot of Presents heroines I’ve come to meet and get to know, she’s also not very real. She’s super giving and just the perfect friggin’ fit for Rio, it was like they were shaped out of the same cookie cutter. I mean it works that way with most romances, but I think the opposites attract was a trope that threw me off a bit from this story.
That being said, I still liked Evie more than broody Mr. Alpha. Rio was annoyingly funny. Like I hated when he made me laugh because I wanted to hate him and I had reason too. He’s an arrogant SOB, but I tip my hat off to Ms. Morgan. She totally redeemed his character by revealing his dark secret.
It’s a great dark secret, though a bit mislead with the “dark” part. It’s not as dark as it could be… Like I was thinking body bag-dark—Oops spoiler! If I stole you idea of ‘dark”—but it was more psychological dark place that actually required more help, unfortunately, than the book should have mentioned.
Nope. Whatever mental instability Rio has been bottling up for years is all cured and metaphorical past wounds are healed by the Force of Evie’s Love. Seriously, he just talks to her and tells her what the secret is (or are? Hmmm. Have I interested you into reading this yet?) and that’s it. Everyone—namely Evie and Rio—just wipe their hands clean of the sordid past and move on to HEA-affirming epilogue…
But they made me laugh like I said and a lot. I’m glad I regulated reading this book from my bed, because it would have been awkward on the commute if I just burst out laughing—“Don’t mind me, fellow passengers, just reading this really funny part”. Heh.
So if you’re going to sink your teeth into this one…maybe even extend your reading to twelve nights (though there aren’t even 12 chapters), read it because for the blend of light humour and sexy tension, and the extravagant escapism it offers.
Also since I’ve been dropping quotes all over this review, let me close off with my Favourite one (I hope you love it, too!):
From pg. 100 (a bit of background then—Rio drags Evie out of a Christmas movie premiere with Hollywood stars and red carpet A-listers and she’s none to happy about missing the movie’s end): “Thanks to you, I won’t ever find out how [the movie] ended.”
“How do you think it ended?” His handsome face was a mask of frustration and tension. “Happily, of course. It’s a Christmas movie. They only ever end happily.” (I digress, Rio! Horror-themed Christmas movies like Black Christmas).
“I know it ended happily but I wanted to know how it ended happily. There’s more than one route to a happy ending, you know. It’s howthey do the happy ending that makes it worth watching.
I bolded all the beautiful part because it deserves to be highlighted. Every romance story should follow that reasoning.
In the end, I give it four calling birds…
My verdict:

✮✮

(4 stars)
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