A Bramble House Christmas by CJ Carmichael and The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
Driven by previews for the movie adaptations of both of these books, I checked them out from the library and had the chance to read them before watching the movies on the Hallmark Channel in the last few weeks. I had never read a book by either author, although had skimmed synopses on the back of a few David Baldacci books before, foregoing actually reading them because they sounded too corny for my liking. I will admit, however, that I have a weakness for corny Hallmark Christmas movies- indeed I have watched so many of them this month that they seem to be running together. I actually read an article today about how corny Christmas movies, with their formulaic scripts, are as good as therapy for the lonely or brokenhearted at Christmastime, or all of us who have felt that way at some time or other in our past, or fear feeling that way in our future- so basically all of us... Anyway, although I have whittled away an embarrassing number of hours watching these corny Christmas movies this month, I am much less patient with corny Christmas reads- perhaps 90 minutes of corniness is all I have in me at a time, and the books take longer than that to read? I am posting both of these books in one review because they follow a similar enough corny Christmas book formula that you can easily lump them together. Two jaded, love-jilted people meet in an unexpected setting, fall in love with each other despite their reservations, find out one (or both of them) is not telling the full truth, separate angrily, realize how much they care, forgive, and end up together, all around the backdrop of a Christmas setting. I'll give the slight advantage to Baldacci here for including one potentially perilous scene, which nearly redeemed his book. If you wish the Hallmark movies would never end, or have a soft spot for corny romance novels with a little holiday cheer thrown in, you would enjoy these reads, as both are reasonably well written, however I found them too saccharine for my taste, and their movies to be disappointingly altered adaptations, tweaked to try to play up the romance even more (I didn't think that was even possible, but I was proved wrong). I firmly believe in deep, true love, although have not found it to look like how it is portrayed in many romance novels or movies like these, but they do offer a shiny version of it, perhaps just what you are looking for as a treat this holiday.