Friday, September 29, 2017

MERRY AND BRIGHT, A Novel by Debbie Macomber (ARC Review and Wine&Dessert Pairing)

Debbie Macomber
To be published on October 3rd 2017 by Ballantine Books
Hardcover, 302 pages
Fiction, Romance, Holiday, Christmas, ChickLit

About the book

Merry is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

My Review

While Debbie Macomber's latest holiday treat, Merry And Bright, tugged at my romance reader's heart strings, it fell flat on a few levels, the characterization of the male lead, Jayson Bright, being one of them--too juvenile and unidimensional for my taste.  

I warmed up to the delightful heroine of the story instead (Merry Knight) and enjoyed the atmosphere of unconditional love, genuineness, and collaboration pervading her home and defining each member of her family. All in all, Merry And Bright will do the trick for all those readers who are looking for a make-you-feel-good, highly readable, holiday season romance. 

Having said that, I personally believe the author doesn't dig deep enough in Jayson's background and family history in order to reveal  motivations and emotional triggers standing behind his conflicted attitude toward love and relationships. His characterization is not convincing enough: giving a simple recount of his childhood struggles is as effective as telling me the moon is shining rather than showing me the glint of light on broken glass, to use Chechov's words.  Macomber seems to limit herself to what's on the surface of the story and progresses through the stages of the enamourament between Jay and Merry by narrative leaps and bounds. 

The novel strikes the right chords thanks to the authenticity of the down-to-earth Knight family (Merry's mother's health issues, a brother with special needs, ordinary people with ordinary problems versus the wealthy, Scrooge-like, grumpy male protagonist), but in its uncomplicated, predictable, run-of-the-mill lightheartedness, the narration penalizes depth and character development.

My final rating: 3.5 stars

***ARC graciously offered by the Publisher via NetGalley in return for an unbiased and honest opinion

Wine&Dessert Pairing

That curmudgeon of Jayson Bright (Merry's boss and eventually love interest) might be a dour one (at least on the surface), but he knows a thing or two about wine. His favorite is an excellent Argentinian Malbec, a full-bodied red known for its plump, dark fruit flavors, and smoky finish. It pairs well with foods that echo its earthiness, so what a better match for this sipping companion than a Plum Cake, soft, moist, and topped with fresh plums? Cheers!

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