Friday, November 13, 2009

Review me baby, one more time

It's review time again! We now have a whole new disclaimer, provided by the folks over at MotherTalk themselves, those lovely people who have asked me to do this review. There it is, below*, verbatim, so take that, FCC! (All this bravado is just for show. I am really quite in favor of the FCC's new rules for bloggers. Hear that, federal types? I love all that you do!)

Our book for this outing is Lakeshore Christmas by Susan Wiggs, the latest volume in the Lakeshore Chronicles, one of several series of Wiggs appears to have written. (Full disclosure: I've never read any other of Wiggs' works, though there appear to be quite a lot of them.) To be perfectly honest, at first glance, I was inclined to dislike this novel. Wiggs' other works, besides the Lakeshore Chronicles, are characterized at either "Contemporary" or "Historical" romances. I'm not really a reader of either of these, so I entered into this novel with great trepidation.

However, I was pleasantly surprised. I think I would characterize Lakeshore Christmas as the perfect airport or airplane read, and I mean that as a compliment, truly. In my opinion, a successful airport read needs a few key elements: it should be absorbing but not require too much close attention; it should move quickly toward resolution, the sort of book that can be finished in a few flights; and it should meet the reader's expectations. Lakeshore Christmas fits all three bills.

The story begins (and ends) exactly where one might expect, even if all one has read is the book jacket. On one side, we have Maureen Davenport, late 20's "prim librarian" who loves Christmas with a passion. On the other, we have Eddie Haven, "recovering former child star" who has, to put it mildly, issues with Christmas. A series of events lands the two of them side by side, co-directing the local Christmas pageant. Maureen is crushed and Eddie is ambivalent about this development, but both soldier on, more or less willingly, and hijinks ensue. Well, perhaps "hijinks" is a bit too peppy of a word. Don't get me wrong; the novel is snappily plotted and moves along rapidly, with just a few pacing hiccups (you know the sort: too slow here, too quick there). But what happens is a pretty standard story. Girl meets boy, girl dislikes boy (but, this being a romance, girl is nonetheless attracted to boy and vice versa), obstacles occur, obstacles are resolved, happy ending. I won't tell you the ending, but, as I said, this being a quintessential airport read, you can really guess the ending from the moment you start reading.

What is not standard about the novel are the odd references to angels sprinkled throughout the narrative. The angels are more literal than figurative, even more oddly, but the angel references, even the presence of actual angels, are never really fully resolved. This lack of resolution left me a bit unsettled, not enough to dismiss the novel out of hand, but it was still strange. In fact, I'm still not sure what the point was. Perhaps if I read more of the Lakeshore Chronicles, I might understand. Or, more likely, these angels were a special gift of the season just in time for Christmas!

So, the next time you're in the mood for a good airport read that asks nothing of you other than a willing suspension of disbelief, pick up Lakeshore Christmas. If you're disappointed, it will not be my fault!

*I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour campaign by MotherTalk on behalf of Lakeshore Christmas and received a copy of the book to facilitate my candid review. In addition, Mom Central sent me a gift card to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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