Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Book review: The Trouble With Christmas by Debbie Mason

Here's how I would summarize The Trouble With Christmas: 

Take a Grinch who hates Christmas and small towns, send her to a town named Christmas, and add into the mix a hot, single-parent Sheriff, his match-making and trouble-stirring great-aunt, his two cute daughters, a few jealous women vying for the Sheriff’s attention, an ex-wife coming back to claim her family back and a couple of villains and you have the perfect recipe for a page-turning, smile-inducing romance that will pull you right in from the very first page and will make you want to read all the following books in the series, so you never have to leave the small, cheer-filled town of Christmas.

If you’re looking for a romantic, funny and a little suspenseful read, you might want to check out the Christmas, Colorado series by Debbie Mason.

I discovered this series when I signed up for the tour of the fourth book (Wedding Bells in Christmas read my review) and, being the sucker for small-town romance that I am, I fell in love with it. When book five released, I immediately signed up for the tour (Snowbound at Christmasread my review), and it was then I decided I simply HAD to read the stories of all the side characters. I had no doubt I’d love the other books as well.

The Trouble With Christmas is a beautiful romance that can be read all year long. Don’t let the title discourage you from reading it in spring or in the summer. Although it is set at Christmas time, the “Christmas” in all the titles also refers to the name of the town, and I can assure you that you will be able to enjoy this book even if you read it under a palm tree on a white-sand beach.

Madison Lane is a Grinch. Literally. She hates Christmas and everything about it. I love Christmas and if it were up to me, I’d probably put up the decorations from September until March or April. But two paragraphs in the book and I knew I was going to love Maddie’s story.
If Madison had a gun, she'd shoot out the sound system pumping "Jingle Bells" through her office speakers. Instead, she bit off Rudolph's chocolate head and pointed a finger at the brightly colored, foil-wrapped Santa on her desk. "You're next, big guy."
It will take a while before the reader can really understand her reasons for despising this particular holiday, but even if you suffer from Obsessive Christmas Disorder, you can’t help bonding with Maddie. At first it’s because she’s hilarious (and, truth be told, a little kick-ass, too), but after discovering the reasons why she hates the holidays as much as she hates small towns, I felt for her and rooted for her happy ending.  

Sheriff Gage McBride gives a new definition of hot to the single-parent with a little tendency to go all alpha. I personally don’t like alpha heroes, but Sheriff McBride made me stop in my track and think twice. Maybe it’s all the “honey” he drops every now and then when he speaks to Maddie, or the way he worries and cares about his great-aunt, or how super cute he is with his two daughters, but by chapter four I was already in love with him. There were a time or two when I wanted to whack him on the back of his head for his stupid behavior (when it came to his ex-wife, mainly), but all in all he was an adorable hero. 

The winter wonderland had nothing on the man sitting in the hot tub, his dark hair slicked back from his chiseled profile. Through wisps of steam, his bare shoulders glistened, the muscles in his arm flexing as he tipped a bottle of beer to his mouth. As if someone had shocked her heart with a defribillator, a heated jolt jagged through her. 
Sweet baby Jesus.

Their meet-cute happens under, well, awkward circumstances... when Sheriff McBride is called on the scene of the accident that involved the woman everyone in Christmas despises because of her role in nixing the deal for a new resort her NY company wanted to build in the small Colorado town, and that everyone thought would be a godsend that could help their businesses survive. So, after the Grinch who killed Christmas, Madison earns a new surname: the Grinch who killed Santa.

From behind a cluster of evergreens at the side of the road, a twelve-foot Santa holding a "Welcome to Christmas" sign seemingly sprang out in front of her like a giant jack-in-the-box. Madison screamed. Her foot mistakenly jumped to the gas instead of the brake. She watched in slow-motion horror as the car kept moving and crashed into the sign. Santa loomed, teetered, then fell on the hood, his maniacal, smiling face leering at her through the cracked windshield.
Her last thought before the airbag slammed into her face was that she'd finally succeeded in killing Santa.

Even though the attraction is pretty much immediate between Maddie and Gage, there's also a big dose of dislike and mistrust that will make them extremely wary of each other. I liked this, because it made things a little more complicated and it made it just that little bit more challenging for them to get to their happily-ever-after. I was really curious to discover how the author would resolve all the problems and obstacles to give them the happy ending they deserved. 

Ms. Lane, it's been... interesting. Just do me a favor and try not to hit anything on your way out of Christmas." 
Smartass. She plastered a fake smile on her face. "As long as you don't have any elves jumping out of the woods waving good-bye signs, I should be good."
Just when she thought she couldn't wait to see the last of his too-gorgeous face, he flashed a sexy grin and winked. Then, with a nod to the mayor, he strode from the hall, closing the doors behind him.

Just as for the other two books I've read, this is a rather clean romance. There is a sexy hot-tub scene, which I wasn't expecting, since I recalled the other two books all had behind-locked-doors sex scenes, but even though this scene was a little sexier than the other books, it was just the right tone and it was never too descriptive or graphic. It was a nice intimate scene, and I think the author did a good job with making it just that little bit teasing but not overly graphic. Apart from that particular scene, though, there aren't any other sexy scenes; there are a few innuendoes here and there, especially on Gage's side, but the attraction between Maddie and Gage can be perceived from their very first interaction and it grows stronger the better they get to know each other.

There are a lot of interesting side characters and I know some of them will be the main characters in the next books, so I can't wait to read book two and three now. I personally hope this series will continue with more and more books. I love losing myself in the magical world of Christmas, Colorado - be it winter or summer, spring or fall!  

By the way, If you’re interested in discovering this series, I recommend you get the special bundle which includes books one, two and three at a special price. Otherwise, you can get each book separately and discover the stories one at a time. All books are connected but work well as standalones, as proven by my personal experience, so you can start at any point and still be able to enjoy the story.  


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