Book Review: 1225 Christmas Tree Lane, by Debbie Macomber

1225 Christmas Tree Lane is the first story of two in the book titled A Merry Little Christmas by Debbie Macomber. It is a heart-warming story showcasing the importance of family, a close community, and that old flames can be rekindled no matter how long they’ve been snuffed out. Sometimes, nothing can stand in the way of family being together.

Beth Morehouse is a divorced parent rebuilding her life in Oregon on a Christmas tree farm, where she also trains and rehabilitates animals. Just before her two college-aged daughters arrive to spend the holidays with her, Beth finds a basket with ten Lab-mix puppies that need to be adopted before their ski trip after Christmas and finds out that her ex-husband is coming from Sacramento to spend Christmas with them. With only three days until Christmas, Beth needs to spread the word quickly that she has ten puppies that need good homes. Everyone that stops by the farm for their Christmas trees has been offered and word is spreading through the small and close-knit community. Now that Beth’s ex-husband is coming for Christmas, she is finding it difficult to relax and wonders if they made a mistake in getting divorced.

Little does Beth know that her daughters have teamed up in this mom-and-dad holiday reunion. An inter-family conspiracy is afoot! They are hoping that once Beth and Kent spend their favorite holiday together, they will realize that they still love each other, reconcile, and then they can have their family back together again. It’s a risky plan with a lot of room for error. Anything could happen once Kent and Beth spend time together, but the girls did not account for Danielle …. and Ted. Danielle is a younger, stylish, and gorgeous woman who seems to crave Kent’s attention, and Ted is the laid-back, handsome veterinarian with a crush on Beth who works closely with her and her animals.

As Christmas approaches, Beth finds joyful homes for each energetic puppy. However, the tension is building between her and Danielle. Beth’s daughters are going to have to dig deeper in their bag of tricks to get rid of Danielle, who is opposite from their mom in any possible way and wrong for their dad in every way. Self-centered Danielle doesn’t even seem to like puppies! Why can’t Kent see that she is all wrong for him? Why would he bring Danielle with him when the girls told him that Beth missed him? Why would Beth bring Ted to Christmas Eve dinner when they told her that Kent missed her?

The truth comes out at the bed and breakfast that Kent and Danielle are staying at in town. The owners have to have the sheriff stop in when Danielle proceeds to trash her room. That’s right, her room. She is not staying in the same room as Kent. Danielle has broken lamps, ripped bedding, tossed clothing around the room, and is sobbing uncontrollably. It turns out that Danielle was meeting up with a sailor in the area who she had been dating, but he dumps her on Christmas Eve. Danielle and Kent were actually just being supportive of each other as they both went out on a limb for love – Danielle going to Oregon to meet up with someone she was dating, and Kent for reuniting with his ex-wife who he never got over. Danielle only added her presence to make Beth jealous and Kent more desirable, and it worked!

So does it mean that Beth is willing to give her ex-husband another chance? She has found and created the perfect life for herself on her tree farm and with her animals. She would never just abandon that. However, no one would be able to fill the spot in her heart that Kent left when they separated. Which one of them would have to surrender their new life to make an old romance work? They can find a way!

Debbie Macomber’s holiday romance is just that – cozy, festive, heart-warming, and predictable. By the end of the first chapter, I knew that Beth and Kent would get back together and all ten puppies would find good homes. Macomber seems to vilify the attractive and successful out-of-town woman, and never develops her character. She also neglects Ted’s character and role he takes. It would have been nice to know more about the working relationship between Danielle and Kent, and then about her love interest somewhere else. What happens to her in the end seems to be just an after thought and convenient way to get rid of her character in order for the predictable and unexciting relationship between Kent and Beth to rekindle. Ted seems to just disappear as well.

Additionally, Macomber uses way too many characters in this story. It becomes confusing which character is speaking and what their relationship is to the main characters, who I think are supposed to be Kent, Beth, and their two daughters. I found myself going back and searching through the novel to remind myself who the narrating character was and why they were important to the story, which most of the time they are not. If the author could develop back stories and voices for each character that narrates alternating chapters, then why not spend a little more time in developing Danielle and Ted and give them voices as well.

Even though the main theme in this novel, I think, is that families can rekindle old flames and stay together, I found another underlying theme. The premise of the book is based on the daughters lying to their parents about wanting to spend Christmas with each other. Also, Kent and Danielle deceive Beth and the girls with a fake relationship. In the end it all works out, predictably, but deception and dishonesty should not have gone unpunished in some way. I get that this is a romance novel and everything is supposed to work out, but I would not want a relationship based on deceit and trickery.

1225 Christmas Tree Lane is a story that I would not expect much from. There are heart-warming and cozy moments. It is technically well written, but I found myself bored by the end and wishing that the story would just finish well before its conclusion.

 

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