Willow’s Review of All She Wants for Christmas by Sara V. Olds
I’m going to try and write this review without giving away any spoilers, but I can’t promise anything on this one. I did like this book quite a bit, but I had some major problems with parts of it…particularly the last seven chapters. As a result, I really had a hard time rating this title.
I loved Ben. He’s an infectious character full of holiday cheer, goodwill, and more. His chapters continually brought a smile to my face every time I got to them. There was nothing about him that I had issues with…heck I wouldn’t mind finding him under my tree come Christmas morning. ~purrs~ George is also a great character, though her pushing away her feelings for Ben and continual freaking out over them did tend to get a bit tiresome in the end. I would have preferred her to have a bit more backbone and see her fight to be with him right off. Still, she had her moments where I was cheering for her success and there were several moments where her actions made my heart melt. I loved her scene outside the Ballet Gala with the two children.
The chemistry between them both is hot, but it’s not over the top. While they shared some seriously intense kisses, there isn’t a single sex scene in the entire book. I’ll admit that this both surprised and pleased me. I like a good bedroom scene, but sometimes I find that a romance novel that doesn’t use them can be just as powerful, if not more so. This happened to be one of those novels. Ben and George’s relationship was great and I enjoyed watching it develop. By the end I wanted them together despite their families’ history.
I also greatly enjoyed the humor in this book. There are several laugh out loud moments…how George got her name is one of them. Olds definitely is skilled at writing one liners and tongue in cheek scenes. And yes, I enjoyed the blending of some of my favorite Christmas stories with this book. I actually found the idea of Ben being the distant nephew of a certain holiday miser to be rather amusing.
So yes, I really liked this book on many levels. But as I mentioned, I also had issues with it. The first being that I felt like the plot was dragged out too much and that it took to long to come to a resolution. Now on the one paw I can understand Olds’s reason for writing the book the way she did, given the history between Ben and George’s families there needs to be time for them to overcome that bad blood and learn to work together. However, I just felt like having everything happen over the course of three, technically four, days was a bit of an overkill. Plus I felt there were a couple of scenes that just weren’t really needed in the long run.
But where the book really lost me was the last seven chapters. And this is where I am afraid I’m most likely going to get spoilery, so do forgive me. When I first started reading, I found myself becoming fully immersed in the story and was enjoying the flow of it. However, when I got to chapter 40, I felt like someone had taken the needle on a record player and dragged it across an album. I literally got jarred out of my comfortable reading mood.
Why? Because I couldn’t understand what was going on or why it was happening. I could get Constantine’s reasoning, but I couldn’t understand Santa’s (okay, to an extend I could, but I couldn’t see why he’d stoop to the level he did). It seemed so out of character for him. So when George was reeling from the shock of her discovery, I was screaming at how crazy and unbelievable the entire situation was. And as she and Ben fought to overcome what was happening to them, I was shaking my head the entire time trying to figure out how things ended up so far out into left field. Now, one could argue that it is the sign of a good writer when she can get the reader to react so strongly to something in the book. But in this particular case, I don’t think she was intending me to be that derailed from my enjoyment of the story. None of it really made all that much sense to me and I just couldn’t get into it, not with the same amount of enjoyment that I initially had anyways. I really think Olds should have ended things sooner and not gone off on the track she did. Plus I didn’t feel like there was much of a resolution to what caused these chapters to happen. I felt like Constantine and Santa got off without any repercussions for their actions. It just didn’t work!
So yeah, for most of the book I really enjoyed what I was reading, and I was willing to overlook those moments where it dragged a bit. But those ending chapters just killed it for me. I don’t want to discourage readers from picking up this title as I do feel like there’s something for everyone within this book. It’s funny, touching, and it really does have a great message regarding the holiday season. So please, even though I had issues with the ending, don’t use my review as the end all to be all on whether you give this a try. Pick it up for yourself and enjoy the magic that it holds. And Meowy Christmas. ~purrs~
About the Author:
Sara V. Olds has been telling stories for as long as she can remember. One of her favorite memories is of unfolding a tale for friends while they were all bundled in sleeping bags watching a comet shower in the Uintah Mountains.
Mother of three: Large, Medium and Small, she welcomes her newest role, that of mother-in-law.
Life has taken her from thither to yon and back again—she’s moved 22 times during her marriage. She breathes to travel. Longs to fulfill a lifelong dream of owning a horse. Is an addictive reader. Enjoys swimming, skiing, violin and movies. Wonders if she’ll ever get to SCUBA dive again. And has found a calling that fulfills her in ways she never could have imagined—teaching history to—wait for it—8th Graders.
Her stories consume her. There’s nothing she’d rather do than spend all day, all night and the next day conversing with her latest set of characters. History, adventure, action, romance, humor. Adults, YA and kids. Yep, she does it all. Looking for something to enjoy on a quiet rainy afternoon? Or wanting a pulse-pounding, stay up all night turning pages adventure? Or a you’ve-GOT-to-be-kidding romp? You’ll find them in her pages.
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