Reviewed by Becca
TITLE: Merry and Bright
AUTHOR: Joanna Chambers
PUBLISHER: Self Published
LENGTH: 203 Pages
RELEASE DATE: November 23, 2017
Three seasonal love stories from Joanna Chambers
Quin Flint is unimpressed when his gorgeous colleague, Rob Paget, asks for extra time off at Christmas. As far as Quin is concerned, Christmas is a giant waste of time. Quin’s on the fast track to partnership, and the season of goodwill is just getting in the way of his next big project. But when Quin’s boss, Marley, confiscates his phone and makes him take an unscheduled day off, Quin finds himself being forced to confront his regrets, past and present, and think about the sort of future he really wants…and who he wants it with.
Mr Perfect’s Christmas
Sam Warren’s new job hasn’t been going so well so the last thing he’s in the mood for is the obligatory office Christmas party, particularly since Nick Foster’s going to be there. Nick–the guy whose shoes Sam has been trying to fill–seems to take very opportunity to point out where Sam’s going wrong. But when Sam receives an unexpected Secret Santa gift at the party, he’s forced to question his assumptions about his rival. Could it be that he’s been misinterpreting Nick’s actions all along? And is it possible that his reluctant attraction to Nick is reciprocated?
Rest and Be Thankful
Things haven’t been going well for Cam McMorrow since he moved to Inverbechie. His business is failing, his cottage is falling apart and following his very public argument with café owner Rob Armstrong, he’s become a social outcast. Cam needs to get away from his troubles and when his sister buys him a ticket to the biggest Hogmanay party in Glasgow, he can’t leave Inverbechie quick enough. But when events conspire to strand him in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm, not only is he liable to miss the party, he’ll also have to ask his nemesis, Rob, for help.
So often when the holidays roll around, there are many who don’t like them. Bad families, bad breakups, bad years. It all leads to the most wonderful time of the year being the most miserable. And in these three Christmas/holiday stories, the main characters are miserable. But the holidays are for hope and a little magic and just maybe these guys will get what they really need and want for Christmas.
I tell you, each of these stories had me in tears in their own way. In this first story, Humbug, Quin is a regular Scrooge. He hates Christmas with a passion. All he wants to do is work and get ahead on more work so he can become partner. He’s so consumed with work, he never shows up to engagements he’s invited to and he’s even lost a boyfriend over it. But he just keeps working. He’s such a Scrooge about it, that when a junior colleague asks for time off early, Quin just snaps at him and tries to make him stay. But the boss comes in, grieving over a loss, and decides enough is enough. She takes Quin’s phone, and shuts the office down. Quin is at a lost at what to do and tries to find a way to keep working anyway. But some cross words from the colleague has started to make him think. And as he decides to go out after all, he is forced to hear what people really think about him and the way his life has went and he isn’t liking what he hears.
Quin absolutely broke my heart in this story. When you hear what people think about you for real and it’s scathing and not very pretty, it causes you to really look at yourself. And Quin is so unhappy. He’s so broken at it all. What even worse is his life has really taken a turn he didn’t even want to go in. And it’s made him miserable. But someone has given him a little hope. And all Quin wants is to be better. Better for himself and for those he has disappointed. Quin is really such a sweetheart. He truly regrets his life and those he’s let down.
In Mr. Perfect’s Christmas, Sam is dreading the office Christmas party. Things haven’t been going well at work. He lost his boyfriend earlier in the year and he doesn’t fit in. He’s tried so hard to do everything right and to belong but all he feels like he’s getting is his predecessor’s good deeds and can-do-no-wrongness shoved in his face. He feels like he will never measure up. And to top it off, Wonder Boy, as he calls Nick, will be at the party. He just can’t win. To make things even BETTER, at the Secret Santa he’s humiliated and made fun of. He tries to slip out and go home, but Nick catches him and he just thinks his night can’t get any worse.
Gah I wanted to just hug Sam so hard. Everything he does seems to be wrong. People make fun of his clothes, his hair, even his briefcase. Just because he likes to look nice and have nice things and takes care in his appearance, doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy. In fact, he’s adorable. He just wants to feel like he’s worthy at his job. He wants to feel like he belongs and that he’s needed. He’s such a softie. I absolutely adore him. At the Secret Santa party, Nick keeps trying to talk to him. But Nick keeps saying the wrong thing. Or someone interrupts. Or he buys the wrong thing and it all gets misconstrued. Nick just wants to explain and to set things right, but his mouth just seems to fail him. It’s so sweet. He gets all flabbergasted and it’s so cute. After a conversation, finally, to clear up all the miscommunication, Sam is forced to really look at how things are and not how they seem in his mind. And forced to see how Nick really feels and sees him.
And finally, in Rest and Be Thankful, Cam has literally had all he can take. He is at the end of his rope. One more thing has gone wrong and Cam is just destroyed. His hopes and dreams shot. With a call from his sister, he is forced to go to a cafe in town where he had a HUGE fight with the owner at his sister’s request. Just when he thinks his humiliation can’t get worse, he is forced to go into town where he is basically the outcast and face the owner himself. His sister provides a way for him to escape, if only for a night, but fate just has it out for him. There’s an mudslide that blocks the road he needs, he falls and messes up his club clothes and then his car breaks down. To make matter worse, he breaks down right in front of Rob’s house and has to ask for help. He really can’t take anymore.
I just could not quit crying in this story. Poor Cam. Everything has hit him so hard, he has tapped out every dime he has. He can’t even afford to eat. When he meets his sister at the cafe, he has to tell her he has already eaten. He’s so dejected. Life just will not give him a break and gah, I’m still bawling. The poor guy. His sister works out the entire story of everything going on with him and tries to do everything she can to make it better. Meanwhile, while he’s discussing everything with her, he doesn’t notice that Rob is noticing him and seeing that maybe things aren’t really as they seemed and maybe it’s time to make amends. Cam just wants his business to work, and he wants to be more than the bad guy in town. When Cam shows up at Rob’s door for help, Rob’s shocked. But he helps and he knows for a fact he has to make things right. Especially when he finds out it was all a misunderstanding to begin with and what Cam has been trying to do all along.
These stories are so good. They are tear jerkers for sure but they are also filled with some hope and some Christmas magic. Just when things can’t seem to possibly get worse, hope seems to step in. These stories bring home the holiday spirit in spite of the misery and Scrooges, and they are perfect to curl up to under a blanket with maybe a cup of cocoa to make things better. So get yourself in the holiday mood with the perfect book of short stories.