Rating: 3 stars
Buy Link:
Amazon | iBooks | Amazon UK
Length: Novel

 

Fran Cuthbert has reluctantly moved back to Christmas Valley where it’s Christmas every day. As a child, Fran never liked living in the small town, but after being publicly dumped by his boyfriend, Fran takes his two young daughters and moves back. The only thing Fran did like about Christmas Valley was his best friend and high school boyfriend, Cassidy, but Fran burned that relationship down years ago and the men have not spoken since.

Fran just needs to get settled. He needs to cut back on sugar, he needs to stop lusting after his new doctor, and he needs to find his daughters the most sought after doll for Christmas. Oh, and he needs to make amends with Cassidy. But with every interaction, there is a new lie popping out of Fran’s mouth and it’s hard to put trust in him. It’s clear Cass and Fran still have feelings for each other and Cass steps in to play Santa for Fran’s girls, but decades worth of baggage exists between the men and Fran has some unpacking to do.

The blurb on this one intrigued me, as I liked the idea of reading a Christmas book where not everyone is thrilled with the season. This book is all about Fran and everything is from his point of view and your enjoyment of this book will likely come down to what you think of Fran. When I started the book, I wanted to like him more than I ultimately did. There is some empathy built around Fran as his story opens, given the way he was dumped by his boyfriend and how unsettled he feels to have moved back to a town he never liked. Christmas is a big deal in Christmas Valley all year round and it’s always been too much for Fran. We learn some about his background with his estranged father that seems to try to soften the blow of Fran’s behavior, but it didn’t have that effect on me.

Fran lies about most things—so much so that he has an imaginary friend or consciousness that he calls “Liar Bob” to help him reconcile all of his lies, and Fran has mental health issues that are never fully dealt with. Fran lied to Cass years ago, which was what fractured their relationship, and while the men eventually acknowledge the lie, it is never fully discussed or dealt with. Fran seems to get a pass on most things he does because he’s Fran. Fran and Cass’ relationship is there on the periphery, but their romance isn’t fully the focal point of the story as Fran has so many other things to deal with.

There are several storylines brought in. One involves how hot Fran thinks his new doctor is and the doctor’s name is always said in full, which I assume was supposed to be for some kind of entertaining effect, but it just became annoying. Fran’s mother has a storyline as well and she’s just as needy as Fran, so that tracks for his profile.

The book overall was slow for me, with predictable outcomes. The ending felt rushed and a lot was settled — from Fran and Cass’ relationship (I never did see what Cass saw in Fran), to Fran’s relationship with his ex, to Fran’s issues with lying — with broad strokes and not much depth to larger issues that were seemingly added in for laughs. This book hinges on Fran and if his type of character appeals to you, this would then be a better fit than it was for me.

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