Published by Bell Bridge Books on October 18th, 2010
Genres: Chick Lit, Contemporary, Contemporary Romance, Holiday, Romance
Source: From the publisher through Netgalley
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What do a Blue Angels pilot, a bounty hunter and an ex-NFL football player have in common? The three bad-boy bachelors of Snowdon, Maine have to make a friend's Christmas Eve wedding on time or die trying! They're willing to risk anything to make that happen-even dashing through the snow in the goofiest bus on Earth, bright red and filled with a bunch of merry, meddling senior citizens known as the Santa Brigade. All too soon, these men will have met their matches in three special women: a woman from their past, a forest ranger so hot she ought to be declared a fire hazard, and a woman on the run.
Ho, ho, OH!
While serving up holiday cheer with the Santa Brigade, the guys will discover 'tis the season for good will and folly. Wise men or not, they are well and truly caught, which means these roguish St. Nicks are willing to jingle a few bells along the way if that's what it takes to find what they truly want for Christmas nestled in their beds after the stockings are stuffed and the gifts placed under the tree.
I loved the idea of this story. Three macho men hitch a ride home on a big, shiny red bus full of senior citizens dressed as Santas. On their way home, they make stops at homeless shelters to spread Christmas cheer to those less fortunate. It’s definitely a unique storyline! It appears to be an anthology, but it’s really one story written from three different perspectives. Each author took on one character, and then they took turns writing chapters from their character’s point of view. It’s a really good idea, but it ended up causing a lot of redundancy. I kept reading the same things. I’d read it happen to one person, and then I’d read another person SEE it happen to said person. I got kind of tired of it.
I enjoyed the characters. The senior citizens are all pretty hilarious old people. They say some of the funniest things. You know how older people can be pretty blunt without really realizing it? That’s how these people are. They totally speak their minds whenever they see fit. I liked all three of the main guys, although I had a hard time telling them apart sometimes. There was not much different about each one to set them apart from the others… plus two of them had very similar names: Sam and Stan. It made it tricky! The three grew up together in a home for boys, so they have a very strong bond. I loved reading about their relationship. I also liked their love interests: a childhood sweetheart, a girl who ran away to avoid testifying against someone in court, and a girl-next-door type who was also headed to the wedding. Each one has quite a dynamic personality, and they added a lot to the story. In my opinion, they actually brought more life to the story than the men did, because these girls are all very different from each other. They come with different backgrounds and life stories. The guys are very similar, so a lot of times it didn’t really matter which one I was reading about.
At first, I was really loving the story. I enjoyed reading about what these men had to do to get to the bus. One had to parachute to it, one had to use a snowmobile to drive out to it, and one had to pay an “Amish woman” $100 to get her to take him to a local truck stop on foot. The sexual tension was definitely there with all three couples, and that was also fun to read about. As soon as they reached the bus, though, (and that happens pretty soon) the story got boring. All we hear about from then on is the lustful thoughts that everyone is having about each other, and the Santa Brigade stops at shelter after shelter. Nothing exciting or noteworthy happens at the stops, though. They make toys on the bus as they drive through major weather, and stop at shelters to deliver them and put on a show.
The men want to jump the bones of the women pretty much all the time, and vice versa. There’s no real talk of love or anything, just sex. No real talk of commitment. The only relationship that even made sense to me was the one between the two childhood sweethearts. They had a history, and they were in love and their feelings were believable. But the other two? They had known each other for, what, 2-3 days? It just seemed unrealistic and rushed to me. And all the men talked about or thought about was sex, sex appeal, sexual tension, and sexual fantasies. The story quickly went from a light-hearted, funny Christmas romance (which I loved) to a bunch of sex scenes (that can be skipped without ruining the flow of the story) and dirty thoughts strung together, which is not my thing. Some of the old people even catch the lust bug! It was just uncomfortable.
Now yes, some sweet romance happens, and a few of the characters have some “coming of age moments,” and I really liked those aspects of the story. Eventually, the story turns back to a happy, light romance. I loved the ending, and how everything was tied together. All in all, parts of this book were great, and parts of it I skipped/skimmed through. I loved the unique storyline. As far as a contemporary romance goes, it’s pretty mainstream. It follows all the usual formulas, and ends like pretty much all romances do. I love happy endings, even if they are totally predictable. :)