After I read A Mrs. Miracle Christmas I dove right into Debbie Macomber’s next Christmas novel, Jingle All the Way which was published last year. In fact I started reading it on the same day that the action in the novel takes place: November 30. In this novel we meet Everly, a workaholic based in Chicago. Her assistant, whose unsatisfactory work is giving Everly the idea to fire her, plans a vacation for her boss out of spite. Instead of a relaxing luxury cruise, the assistant sends her on a bare-bones trip down the Amazon. Everly gets into quite a few life-threatening predicaments while on board, like getting bitten by a mosquito whose bite leaves her incapacitated for a week and falling into the piranha-infested water while on a fishing trip–for piranhas no less.
I found the dialogue in this novel to be unrealistic, most of all when Everly got lost during a rainforest hike and found herself surrounded by a threatening indigenous tribe. The tribal men point spears at her and she is calmly pleading with them in the politest English. Perhaps this is a knowing jab by the author at the stereotypical attitude among American tourists who expect everyone they encounter on their travels to speak fluent English. In this particular situation Everly reminded me of Mrs. Howell, dressed to the nines, trying to persuade the headhunters from “Gilligan’s Island” to release her.
A shipboard romance blooms between Everly and Asher, the excursion’s naturalist and lecturer. However the outdoorsy Asher finds the prospect of a long-term relationship with Everly, an urbanite married to her job, to be impossible. The author drives them apart after the Amazon expedition and then reconnects them over Christmas with, of course, predictable results.
It took a while for me to care about Everly and Asher and therefore for the first third of the novel I was comparing it unfavorably to A Mrs. Miracle Christmas. (The corny dialogue didn’t help.) But after the expedition ended I wondered how Macomber would reunite the couple since I felt she had painted herself into a corner by keeping them apart. Her solution to get them back together was realistic.