I picked up Merry Humbug Christmas by Sandra D. Bricker when it was on sale for the Kindle app (at the moment it is 99 cents, but that could change at any time) mainly because I enjoyed her The Big 5-OH! a couple of years ago.
This is a two-part story of two friends. The first, Joss Snow, was born on Christmas day, and her parents in a burst of holiday and new parent inspiration decided to name her Merry with her middle name as Christmas. Merry Christmas Snow. “Her name had come to seem like a Before and After puzzle from Wheel of Fortune.” By adulthood she’d had enough of the jokes and wisecracks such a name brought out, and she had it legally changed to Jocelyn, going by Joss. When a family tragedy occurred on Christmas Eve, she was done with the holiday. “She’d made a decision long ago not to ask too many questions about the why of that turn of events. Instead of turning on God, she’d turned on Christmas.” She not only did not celebrate it, she went out of her way to avoid it along with her best friend, Reese Pendergrass. This year she’s found the perfect getaway for herself and Reese: a Bah Humbug Cruise that promises no festive seasonal vestiges. The only problem is that Reese drops a traitorous bomb on her: her boyfriend has just proposed and she is going to meet his family at Christmas.
Joss decides to go alone, only to discover when she arrives to board the ship that her cruise has been canceled and she has been rebooked on the “12 Days of Christmas Fun Cruise.” It takes a certain suspension of disbelief to accept that that would happen without her having received some notice beforehand, and that she would find herself actually on the ship, deciding to disembark only after it was too late. But setting that aside, Joss soon meets “a walking commercial for Christmas at Dollywood” in the platinum blond, overly adorned and talkative Connie, and steels herself for a miserable time tucked away in her room. Connie, however, won’t let her get away with that, and in the course of events Joss also meets a potential client for her business and a handsome guy with an Irish brogue.
Meanwhile, Reese is nervous about meeting the seemingly idyllic family of her fiance when she herself comes from a non traditional hippie-ish family. An accident in which they hit a deer on their way and have to finish their journey on foot in the snow sets off a series of disasters which makes Reeses doubt she will ever be accepted by the family.
In one scene Reese thinks that it’s like they’re in the middle of a cheesy holiday movie, and, yes, the book did have a TV holiday movie feel about it. I did wince at Reese’s calling her fiance, Damian, Damie, and Joss calling some guy gorge, as in gorgeous (I had never heard the latter before – is that a thing now?) But overall the book is full of Bricker’s trademark humor and is a light, fun holiday read. I especially enjoyed the interaction of the two friends at the beginning and end of the book. And of course, it wouldn’t be a Christmas book without Joss realizing that Christmas is “not really so bad…under the right circumstances.”
(This will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)