The Christmas Tree
Holiday romances are starting to fill my Kindle and I’m noticing that more and more frequently, they are written using accelerated timelines between meet-cute and conclusion. The Christmas Tree is no exception, as our hero and heroine do the enemies-to-lovers-to-engagement journey in the span of a week. If that is your thing, then read on because there’s a lot to enjoy here.
Sadie Wilson is busy checking her phone for a significant text message when she plows her car into a light pole as she pulls into Pineville, Michigan. Unfortunately for her, that’s not the only damage she causes, as that pole then collapses onto a nearby pick-up truck. To add insult to injury, the owner of the pick-up, one Colt McCoy (not the former quarterback for the University of Texas Longhorns, by the way), is a grump with a capital ‘gr’.
There’s continued bad news for both of them. Colt let his insurance lapse on the truck, so he and Sadie end up before a judge to atone for their respective crimes. As Pineville is a pretty small town, the judge decides that neither of them needs jail time more than the town needs some community service. In particular, the town has no one to decorate the Christmas tree for the annual tree lighting ceremony coming up in a week’s time. He sentences the two of them to prepare the tree for the event.
Colt is incensed that he has to walk away from his general contracting business for a week to decorate a tree, and blindingly insulted he has to do it with a woman he has condescendingly referred to as “princess” since they met. Sadie was only supposed to be in town for a night to deal with the sale of her grandmother’s house, so a week-long detour from her life in Ann Arbor isn’t exactly fantastic – but then again, neither is her life in Ann Arbor.
Sadie is a house dresser, one of those people who would work on an HGTV show to make the design houses presentable. She’s organized, professional, and meticulous. It’s not that her vision for the tree is better than Colt’s, it’s more like her vision comes armed with experience, and he dismisses both as being a bit uppity.
So these two people who can barely speak to each other set out to decorate the tree. In the meantime, Colt is also dealing with the fact that a possible mole in his business has been giving secrets to his competitors, a cantankerous father, and is still grieving the loss of a brother who was killed in action years prior – whose truck Sadie destroyed.
Sadie, for her part, is dealing with selling her lackluster business, getting hit on by the sketchy competitor of Colt’s, reuniting with childhood friends, getting her grandmother’s house ready for sale, and helping to stop “The Christmas Thief” who is taking all of Pineville’s decorations.
Exhausted yet? Remember how this whole book takes place over a week? I understand the holidays are crazy, but there is easily a year’s worth of life packed into this novel. The first half of the book was spent explaining all of this, and the second half was spent solving all the problems which were established in the first half, while also convincing us two strangers who HATED each other at the beginning were ready to commit to life together forever by the end.
It’s a tall order, y’all, and I’m not sure the book is completely successful. There is a lot of small town schmaltz in here and there are simply too many plotlines which detract from the character development. There’s a lot of telling rather than showing; for example, I never really understood while Colt was such a jackass, although it was nice for him to admit it several times. I just felt whiplash as we went back and forth from plotline to plotline.
That being said, I closed The Christmas Tree feeling charmed by Sadie and hopeful for her that she would embrace and enjoy this new season of her life. The book is a madcap race through Christmas in a small, Michigan town, with a love story and a life change story thrown in for good measure. If that sounds like something you’d like to cozy up with on a blizzardy evening this holiday season, then you’re just one click away.