What Happens at Christmas
I love the Christmas season and all the traditions that come with it. Well, most of the traditions are good ones. I’m not particularly enamored of the plethora of cutesy Hallmark Christmas movies that run on TV almost 24/7 during the month of December. They are just too far removed from reality for my taste. What Happens at Christmas was essentially a Hallmark movie in book form, which I suppose tells you how I felt about it.
Camille Lydingham is going to marry a prince. He hasn’t proposed yet, but as she explains to her twin sister Beryl, it’s only a matter of time. Well, time and the reinforcement of Prince Nikolai Pruzinky’s belief that Camille comes from a lovely, genteel English family. She intends to prove this to the prince by inviting him to her home, Millworth Manor, for Christmas.
The only problem? Camille’s family isn’t conventional. Luckily, everyone but her staid twin sister is off on the Continent for the winter, so she takes advantage of their absence to hire a troupe of actors to act as her family for the duration of the prince’s visit. How could this plan go wrong?
Well, the problems start when Camille’s childhood friend—and first love—Grayson Elliot returns from his years abroad. He left abruptly on the eve of her wedding to the elderly Lord Lydingham after declaring his love for her. Grayson initially just stops by her home to pay a social call, but after a run-in with Camille’s supposed mother he decides to establish himself in the eyes of Prince Nikolai as Camille’s cousin. He claims only to want to help his old friend, but it isn’t long before he starts embellishing on the deception, making Camille’s life more and more difficult.
And who should show up next but…well, not her family. First a passel of children appears in the household as if by magic (in other words, Grayson orchestrated it to bother Camille). Then her real family arrives, and Camille is forced to explain away their appearance as well. As the Christmas guest list grows, Camille’s story for the prince becomes increasingly elaborate, but it’s not long before she realizes that she doesn’t actually care about his opinion of her family—she doesn’t really require it to be happy.
I won’t say that this was a terrible book. Camille was amusing, especially once she learned to laugh at the absurdity of her crazy scheme. Grayson was more uptight—ever since Camille married Lord Lydingham he had it stuck in his head that she was a gold digger. He utterly lacked the empathy to understand Camille’s actions, but I suppose it is to his credit that he eventually learns from that mistake.
In fact, my only major problem with this book was the absurdity and implausibility of it all. It’s a common trait in Christmas stories especially, but to my mind that doesn’t make it good. Still, if you are one who enjoys a fun Hallmark movie at Christmastime, this is likely right up your alley. Although it wasn’t to my taste, it might be to yours.