Merry and Bright
Author: Jill Shalvis
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Merry and Bright by Jill Shalvis is a collection of three short stories set around Christmas. I don’t normally read holiday setting books, but I picked this one up for the Ho Ho Ho Read-a-thon.
I’ve only ever read one other book by Shalvis and this collection reminded me why I never picked-up another. While the stories aren’t bad, they’re just not my thing. If I read a contemporary romance, I tend to want the conflict to stay at believable levels.The fact that Shalvis seems to think that all her stories need a conspiracy or life and death situation annoys me.
The first story Finding Mr. Right was the best story in the collection. Chemist Maggie Bell has a crush on the contractor working outside of her office. Even though she knows he’s completely wrong for her, she decides to pursue him for a short term relationship.
Maggie has the habit of spewing out random facts when nervous. At first I liked this, but the character trait was overused to the point where it started to get annoying. Even though Maggie’s wikipedia knowledge started to get on my nerves, I still liked her character. I only wish that Shalvis had stuck with character conflict between the heroine and hero to move the plot forward, rather than going the action/conspiracy route.
The second story, Bah, Handsome, features Hope, a B&B owner, who owes a ton of money to her loan shark step brother. When one of her step brother’s lackeys shows up at the B&B, Hope doesn’t expect to be attracted to the man. This one really didn’t work well for me. Hope was annoyingly stubborn and I honestly didn’t care at all about the relationship. I also really hated how meddlesome her friends were.
The final story, Ms. Humbug, focuses on city planner, Cami, who discovers the man she’s dating is banging the office assistant. Disheartened, she takes up with mayor and long time verbal sparring partner, Matt. Another story that would’ve worked better for me if Shalvis hadn’t taken the action/conspiracy route. While this one wasn’t bad, I thought the characters were the most underdeveloped, compared to the first two stories. Despite this, I still generally enjoyed the lighthearted tone and bickering between the main characters.
Shalvis has an engaging writing style and her characters are fun, so I can see why her novels are so popular. However, she’s not for me. If you’re looking for a cute holiday read and are a fan of Shalvis, this is probably worth checking out.