Christmas from the Heart
Christmas from the Heart has a charming sense of humor, a do-right-in-spite-of-himself hero, an understandably – and yet totally annoyingly – pushy heroine who uses another man’s attention to get what she wants, and painfully outdated gender roles masquerading as unquestioned, unexamined reality. Sigh!
Olivia – Livi – Berg, head of the Christmas from the Heart charity, is aghast that her biggest donor, Hightower Enterprises, has cut their yearly donation out of its budget this year. CFO Guy Hightower feels guilty about that, especially when he learns that the company is one of Christmas from the Heart’s oldest donors and has been contributing since the foundation’s inception. But it can’t be helped, what with the business floundering as it is. But as the youngest sibling, Guy often finds himself being ignored by his older brothers, and thus he feels he has no power to help Livi.
Livi doesn’t see it that way and keeps emailing Guy. Christmas from the Heart fulfills all of the duties the Salvation Army or Toys for Tots would in her small home town of Pine River, Washington; she needs that money, especially because it’s her first year running the operation alone after her mother’s fatal heart attack. So she bakes something sweet and shows up in the lobby of Hightower Enterprises. It’s too bad Guy refuses to see her. Demoralized, she goes home.
Luckily for Livi, Guy’s car breaks down just outside of town and the part needed to repair it isn’t in stock. With nowhere else for him to stay, she offers her house. What a perfect opportunity to butter him up! As Liv introduces Guy to her small town’s traditions, she starts feeling an urge to share more with him than just the happiness of the season.
Christmas from the Heart will appeal to anyone who feels like an ubertradtional holiday romance to start out the season. And I mean ubertraditional – the heroine is literally haunted by the voice of her dead mom in her head, urging her to keep up with the happy family traditions – or at least give her some grandkids already.
Livi is one of those heroines who’s part irritant, part amusing foil. Her ramblings are fairly enjoyable, but she’s so judgmental – always making presumptions about Guy’s values – and so driven in her (understandable) mission that you want to tell her to sit down and pipe down and maybe think of others for a change.
Guy is caring and devoted, but comes off as flavorless – nice and rich – in fact, according to the book’s story, he’s too nice to be a rich executive. There’s no real chemistry between Liv and Guy since the majority of her actions feature her pressuring him into him cutting her a hefty check through clever application of fruitcake eating contests.
Speaking of, for a book that has a message that’s basically ‘screw big business, yay charities!’ it doesn’t have the courage to make any further bold moves against the patriarchy. Women are emotional; men are cold and businesslike, and that’s just ‘how it is’ according to this tome. Women be wantin’ babies and home and hearth and baking – men be wanting to kiss pretty girls. Originality, please, anyone?
I liked the members of Livi’s CFTH charity circle, and I especially enjoyed poor Morris, who has a crush on Livi that Livi leverages for favors (Livi is The Worst), but it’s okay because he’s a ‘nice guy.’
Christmas from the Heart is a bit too blah to ruin a person’s good holiday cheer. Keep on looking for something that’s sweeter, or at least not as cloying as a two year old fruitcake.