A middling romance with awful side characters
Listen, when it comes to Christmas romance novels/movies, I can forgive A LOT. You’re reading the blog of someone who deeply loves Hallmark movies and the cheesy tropes they contain. This title was pretty popular at my library and I know Melody Carlson is a popular author of Christmas titles, so I figured I’d give it a chance.
This is a pretty formulaic Christmas Hallmark style movie in novella form. Emma is a likable woman by all accounts who is invited to Colorado for Christmas with her best friend’s family. While there, she falls for Tyler, a musician who is pretending to be the caretaker of the home they’re doing a house swap with, a la The Holiday. All of that is fine and dandy until Gillian, Emma’s best friend, finds out his real identity and sets her sights on him, just as she does basically everything throughout the book. She is the worst. Both our protagonists are likeable enough and fine so it makes for an okay romance. Emma is honestly too good for everyone in the book, including Tyler.
The real issue with this book, and the reason why I nearly DNF’d it, is that holy crap the side characters in this book are abysmal. Like, truly awful & annoying people. Her best friend is obscenely vapid and her parents are even worse. They are obviously supposed to be the rich, obnoxious characters that serve to show the reader how kind and lovely Emma is by contrast, but it’s way over the top. This is like if you took Scrooge and added in a bit of Real Housewives rude vapidity. It actually took me way out of the book because it was impossible for me to figure out why a character like Emma would even associate with people like this, and thus I found it impossible to really enjoy. The author really needed to tone down the side characters just enough to give them some empathy or depth, because I ended up just skimming all the sections in where they appeared, which was quite often. I don’t know if I’d bother reading more of this author if this is a constant with her characters, but we’ll see. It brought the whole thing down several levels.
Title: The Christmas Swap
Author: Melody Carlson
Three Descriptors: Hallmarky, Christian, Middle of the Road