A Gift from Tiffany's
Melissa Hill’s A Gift from Tiffany’s begins when Ethan Greene buys a beautiful diamond ring at Tiffany’s for Vanessa, his girlfriend. At the same time, Gary Knowles, picking up a pair of cufflinks for himself, realizes he’s forgotten to get his girlfriend Rachel a Christmas present. So he buys a charm bracelet, because it’s affordable. Then he leaves – and is promptly sideswiped by a car. Since Ethan knows CPR, he dashes in to help.
And in the confusion, two identical blue boxes get mixed up.
This setup promised a lot of fun, and at first I was into the story. After Rachel brings Gary home from the hospital, they exchange gifts and she’s thrilled with her magnificent ring. Gary feels as though he’s been knocked down by a car all over again, but she’s so overjoyed that he goes along with it and proposes to her. Why look a gift horse in the mouth? Besides, being married to Rachel won’t be such a drag. She owns her own business, she’s a great cook, she’s even better in the sack, and she doesn’t mind it if he brags about how flush he is. Yeah, she’s kind of a catch.
The only problem is that Ethan, preparing to propose, quickly realizes that one cannot properly do so with a cheapo charm bracelet (not to mention a disappointed girlfriend). He figures out what’s happened, and learns Gary’s name at the hospital, where he bumps into Rachel. She’s grateful for his helping Gary, but the moment she flashes her ring and burbles happily about her engagement, Ethan sees what Gary has done. Naturally, Gary avoids Ethan like the plague. So Ethan keeps meeting with Rachel as he tries to get the ring back without breaking her heart.
And at this point, the book turned very sour for me. Ethan lies to both his girlfriend and Rachel about what he’s doing. Gary, of course, has been lying to Rachel all along. Then Terri, Rachel’s best friend, gets in on the act. I don’t want to give away spoilers, but Terri does something that puts Rachel through three weeks of worry and guilt, until finally she breaks down in tears.
It was horrible to read about. As if that wasn’t bad enough, when Rachel calls all these people on what they’ve done to her, Terri has the gall to take the moral high ground and say they were “considering [her] feelings.” The truth about the ring would have come out eventually, because obviously Ethan wasn’t about to shrug off a five-figure loss, so how is it considerate to draw this process out for weeks?
On top of that, there’s the unflattering portrayal of Vanessa. She can’t have children, so I knew she wasn’t the heroine, but it turns out she’s the closest thing to a villain this book has. Even Gary isn’t as bad. Finally, everything points to a predictable ending, but the characters behave in unrealistic ways to make the ending a surprise (of sorts) while still having happy-ever-afters. Imagine a romance where, towards the end of the book, the heroine realizes she’s in love with the hero’s best friend, which is fine because the hero has fallen for her sister. Yes, that’s got a happy ending for everyone and it might even be unexpected. But is it satisfying? Not for me.
The Christmassy atmosphere and the setting of an artisan bakery are pleasant, and I liked the fact that a lot of the story happens in Dublin. I’d like to read more romances set in modern-day Ireland, as long as they’re nothing like this book. A Gift From Tiffany’s was a major disappointment.