Monday, October 12, 2020

You Make It Feel Like Christmas, by Louise Marley

Louise Marley, October 2020

Elizabeth Holly is a book editor, and the younger daughter of the Holly family. That's the Holly family of "Holly Jolly Christmas," Britain's longest-running Christmas program. 

Agatha Holly has been determined for the last two decades or so to teach everyone how to have the perfect Christmas--even if drives her family to insanity.

Lucy Holly, the older daughter, has grown up to found her own production company and produce her mother's Christmas extravaganza. In pursuit of her mother's continued success, she hasn't hesitated to use Elizabeth's, or rather "Beth's, as she's known on air, clumsy moments and awkward missteps and unsuccessful attempts at rebellion as hilarious laugh moments--making her the star of thousands of hilarious, but humiliating, gifs and memes.

That's why Elizabeth has refused to participate for the last several years, and this year, after a disastrous date resulting in a quite public unwanted marriage proposal, is heading for a not-yet-opened hotel to be a test-run guest for a traditional Christmas. Or at least, that's what she thinks.

Aiden and Nick Hall are the sons of a "scream queen" movie actress and a builder, who died seven years ago when their car went off a steep cliff on an icy road at Christmas time. The two brothers both had to give up university. Aiden took over their father's construction business, and has grown it substantially--he has millions. He never goes back to Myra Abbey, the home they were raised in, unless absolutely unavoidable. Nick became a model, and pours all his money and off-work time into repairing and restoring the Abbey, along with whatever money he can get Aiden to contribute.

But now Aiden, who is convinced their childhood there was miserable and thinks it's deeply unhealthy that Nick spends his time and money on the place (or at least that's what he tells himself and Nick), has decided to sell the Abbey so that Nick will be forced to move, and will have to build a real life. And maybe get a real job; how much can he be making as a male model?

Nick is determined to keep his home--also the home, incidentally, of his minimal staff, Ophelia (cook and housekeeper), and Chloe (part-time maid on her breaks from university.) And when he and Chloe are in the house library, trying to come up with a plan, they see a picture of Aiden, among many other family pictures, with his girlfriend at university, right before he had to quit.

Elizabeth Holly.

They idly look for her online, and find a Facebook post about her need for a hotel with a room available, that can give her a traditional Christmas. Chloe uses Nick's account to offer her that room and that Christmas at Nick's not-yet-officially-open "hotel." Aiden will be back with the papers he wants Nick to sign, and the girl he's never forgotten will be there...

Of course, all heck is about to break out.

Nick's, Elizabeth's, Aiden's, Lucy's, and Agatha's plans are all about to go hilariiously wrong--especially after Lucy finds out where Elizabeth is, and comes up with a mad, and completely ruthless, plan to save A Holly Jolly Christmas, and her own and Agatha's careers.

Because yes, the show has been falling in the ratings for several years now. Possibly since the hilariously, and unwillingly, funny Elizabeth started flatly refusing to participate in it.

All these people are about to learn an awful lot about themselves, each other, and Christmas.

It's just a lot of fun, very warm, and throughly enjoyable. Recommended.

I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher, and am reviewing it voluntarily.

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