Chasing Christmas Eve
I have been reading Chasing Christmas Eve for four months. Literally, from May to September I tried to make myself care about reading this book, and I never managed it. I finally forced myself to get through it so I could write this review. And why did it take me that long to read less than 400 pages? Because it’s a bore.
I like Jill Shalvis, I really do. I have read every and enjoyed other book in this series, but there was just something about this book that made it fall totally flat. I know that Shalvis leans towards quirky, which often isn’t my thing, but I can usually manage to go with it if the romance is good. Sadly, Chasing Christmas Eve felt like all silly, no heart.
The biggest issue may be that I never came to care about Colbie or Spence. Spence is meant to be a genius workaholic who owns some sort of tech company as well as an apartment building. Colbie is a writer of Young Adult novels who has run away to San Francisco for a much needed break. She is bored with writing her on-going series, in spite of its success and popularity, and wants to get away from her agent’s demands. Is this an allusion to the Heartbreaker Bay series? Because this one certainly feels tired.
Colbie is making a wish in a fountain when she meets Spence. She is newly arrived in town and needs somewhere to stay, and he owns the apartment building that just happens to have a vacant, fully furnished apartment. I know Shalvis can do good sexual tension, having read her Animal Magnetism series, but here, the chemistry between the leads is … nada. There is plenty of sex that never really feels sexy because not an ounce of sexual tension is mustered beforehand. Not to mention, it all feels too silly! And unintentionally silly, which is a killer. For example, the first time they get it on, there is no foreplay. He just sticks it in and boom! She has four orgasms. Right…
Still on the subject of silliness, we’re also subjected to Colbie saying things like “Son of a Seacock!”, “Holy Mac and Cheese!”, and other childish pseudo-swears. Shalvis is good at light-hearted and fun dialogue, as well as tossing in some over-the-top scenarios that I can usually enjoy. However, a grown woman swearing like a child and starting each chapter with hashtags of this saying, just makes me roll my eyes. Plus, I don’t find anything cute about an elderly man living in an alley, even if we’re told it is by choice. The character of Old Man Eddie has annoyed me throughout all the books, but he gets more of a storyline here. He acts as a good-hearted scamp that doles out life advice to the young people living in the building. He is also Spence’s grandfather. Since my job leads me to work with the homeless fairly often, I just don’t find it cute.
The biggest killer for me is that Chasing Christmas Eve lacks in conflict. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, a romance novel can’t just be a couple going on dates. That is all that Spence and Colbie do. Go on pleasant dates – that we more often than not hear about in passing – and have multi-orgasmic sex. The only real conflict is that Colbie will be going back to New York at Christmas. Seeing as we all know that isn’t going to pop up until the end of the book, what is the conflict for the first two-thirds of the story? She kind of has a needy family, and an ex you rarely hear about, and he is a ‘workaholic’ who has no trouble not working, plus alley-grandpa. All of those things kind of happen in passing between dates and boinking and don’t affect the story much. Really, even the big conflict felt pretty solvable since a bestselling writer can work from anywhere. I couldn’t find anything in this to give me that feeling of not knowing how it will come together. I wanted the gut tug of worry that they might not get their happily ever after. It never showed up.
I hate to say it, but Chasing Christmas Eve was just blah. The only thing that saved its rating from plunging to a D grade was that the writing is very lighthearted and pleasant, as you’d expect from this series and this author. You get to check in with all the previous couples, whatever your feeling on that, and if silly is your thing, you’re set. Just don’t expect any hard knocks in the feelings with this one.