I think of Debbie Macomber’s Christmas stories as being like packaged hot chocolate. They are sweet, warm and festive and nice for a quick fix of cheer. That’s certainly true for her newest novel, Dear Santa.
Lindy Carmichael thought this would be her year but her dream job at Media Blast has proven to be more challenging than she expected, and her boyfriend left her for Lindy’s best friend. She’s looking forward to leaving behind what has proven to be a very long twelve months by spending two weeks at home, eating cookies, drinking cocoa and enjoying time with her family. Once she arrives, her mother, concerned Lindy has lost her sense of wonder and seeking to help her rediscover it, pulls out the letters to Santa that Lindy wrote when she was little.
As Lindy and her mom share laughs and expound on memories centered around the letters, Lindy realizes something: Santa always came through. He gave her a new dad when she requested one, delivered a baby sibling just in time for the holidays and even got rid of her childhood nemesis Billy Kincaid when she’d asked him to. Would it be silly to write another letter, appealing for a boyfriend and a new best friend? Feeling foolish but hopeful, she puts pen to paper and composes a missive asking for what she longs for.
And wouldn’t you know it, the ink is barely dry before Jolly Ol’ St. Nicholas begins to fulfill Lindy’s every wish. The next couple of days see her reconnecting with her elementary school best buddy Peggy, and learning that her playground bully, Billy, has grown up to be a hunky restaurateur who now goes by Will. He’s recently moved back to the area, opened a wine bar and is delighted to reconnect with Lindy. After an awkward start, Lindy and Will find themselves joyfully hanging out together. A new/old bestie and dating someone spectacular make the days of her vacation fly by. Being home for the holidays is turning out better than Lindy could ever have imagined but what will happen to all her burgeoning relationships when the season ends, and Lindy has to return to real life?
The positive of this story is that Macomber includes lots of holiday magic in her tale – snow, presents under the tree, visits to Santa, sleigh rides, sledding, hot drinks, cookies, pies, decorations – it’s like stepping onto the set of a Lifetime Christmas movie. The narrative is completely lighthearted and much like store-bought sugar cookies, the point of the book is to be quick, easy holiday fun and it delivers at that level.
Whether you enjoy it or not will depend upon your tolerance for saccharin, small town stories, and your acceptance of lackluster romance wrapped up in holiday tinsel and glitter. Lindy and Will are fairly bland, and their connection lacks passion. They share some warm kisses which apparently knock their socks off, they hold hands and cuddle but even though that’s as far as they go on the page, even the desire to do more seemed missing. I was able to appreciate their love story in large part only because it was so brief and covered in shiny, festive trappings.
There is a strong nostalgia factor here. While computers and cell phones are mentioned, I felt a bit of time displacement since the story read much more like it was set in the fifties or sixties than modern day America. I have a feeling that Macomber’s audience has aged along with her, and this is probably exactly what they want from a holiday story, but I’m not sure a younger reader would connect with what’s on offer here.
This isn’t technically an inspirational, but church attendance, and sermons on forgiveness play a small but critical role in the tale. Readers looking for a narrative devoid of the religious overtone of the holiday will need to look elsewhere.
Christmas is a season which is uniquely suited for indulging in trite sentimentality and Dear Santa, with its holiday mojo mired in the ideals of yesteryear, is perfect for that. Readers searching for a tale brimming with old fashioned yuletide cheer need look no further.
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Recent Comments …
Perfect material for a Hallmark Christmas feature
The audiobook is how I discovered it. The copy I have (from Audible) doesn’t have text chapter names, however -…
The audiobook has great narrators, too, Kale Williams and Joel Leslie.
Agreed. And it’s why I’ve stopped reading so many historical mystery series – the couples got together in book 3…
See my note above that for me it is about the relationship rather than the mysteries. Thomas’ Holmes series relationship…
I agree that most series fizzle. There are very few I’ve managed to hang in with for more than 6…