Yes, I am reading Christmas books in August.
In my defense, as much as I love Maureen and John, I wasn’t about to go out and buy the book without having read it first, so I had to wait for my library (which wasn’t on the ball last Christmas) to get one in. Now, having read the book, I can safely say that I need to buy it. (As much as I love Maureen and John.)
And, also in my defense, it’s not really a Christmas book. More like several romances that happen to be set at Christmastime. Which really doesn’t make it all that inappropriate for August. (Think of it this way: maybe reading about a blizzard in North Carolina will help keep you cool in the middle of the August heat.)
Maureen gets the story started with the first of the three novellas, “The Jubilee Express.” In it, our main character, Jubilee (who is not a stripper, thankyouverymuch), is thrust upon a train bound for Florida because her parents, Christmas village collecting nuts, are arrested on Christmas Eve, throwing a wrench into Jubilee’s best laid plans to go to her boyfriend’s family’s Christmas Smorgasbord. (Okay: you have to love Maureen for including a smorgasbord in this story. You just have to.) The train only gets as far as a small town in North Carolina, where it gets stuck because of a blizzard. Off the train Jubliee goes (who wants to be stuck on a derailed train with a bunch of cheerleaders? Not Jubilee.), and into the path of Stuart. Let’s just say that not only does Maureen have a gift for comedic writing, she (and I know I’ve said this before) writes the most swoon-worthy kisses. Period.
John picks it up in the next story, “A Cheertastic Christmas Miracle,” from the point of view Tobin, who’s just hanging on Christmas Eve with two of his best friends, JP and the Duke (who’s a girl). They get a call from Keun, who’s working at the Waffle House in town, after the cheerleaders from Maureen’s story invade. One of the best things about this book was seeing how all the stories intertwined: a character from the first would make an appearance in the second, and again, in a different way, in the third. Quite fun. Anyway, Tobin, JP, and the Duke head out — yes, in the blizzard — to make it to the Waffle House so the guys can ogle (or is it oogle?) the cheerleaders. Of course, it isn’t easy (it’s a blizzard, for goodness sake!), and of course, there’s romance along the way. John’s romance isn’t swoon-worthy, but it’s very JohnGreen: sweet, with just the right touch of cynicism. I liked his exploration of “happy middles”.
Lauren has the unenviable job of following John’s and Maureen’s stories: how on earth do you top those two? I’ve not read any of her books before, so I didn’t quite know what to expect. Let me say, though, that I think she did admirably: she not only had the story with the best title — “The Patron Saint of Pigs”, she told a very sweet story of a girl — Addie — dealing with the after effects of a mistake she made — cheating on her boyfriend — and she managed to tie in all three stories in a very sweet, very touching way.
A very sweet (count how many times I’ve used that in this review!) collection of stories, great for both fans of the authors and of YA romances alike. Fun, fun, fun.