Review: Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts

Merry Ex-Mas by Sheila Roberts
Released: October 23, 2012
Holiday Fiction

Reviewed by May 

“There’s nothing worse than cold food.”

Cass could suggest a few things – taxes, yeast infections, exes.

This is the story of a group of friends living in the tiny Washington town of Icicle Falls. What they have in common is that this holiday season – all their exes will be making appearances in their lives.

Cass: a divorced mama of grown (or nearly so) children. Their father was mostly absent in their childhood, but now he’s coming back into the picture as her eldest daughter prepares for a last-minute wedding right before Christmas – and he’s bringing his bimbo cheerleader wife. Now she’s got to plan a wedding, run her bakery, and deal with a bride-zilla formerly known as her sweet daughter.

Ella: runs a women’s clothing boutique and is living with her ex-husband Jake as they try to sell their house. She believes he cheated on her. Jake is a country music singer hoping to someday make it big, a slob, and a very proud man who never did explain to Ella what really was going on.

Charley: divorced and running her very fabulous restaurant and bar. Now her cheating ex is back in the picture, and trying to show her why he made a huge mistake and they should be back together.

There are lots more ladies, from Samantha and her sisters who run the chocolate company (as seen in Robert’s last novel), to other friends young and old. This is very much a straight women’s fiction book with a focus on women friendships. You should not pick it up looking at that adorable cover (she really does have the best covers!) and expect anything like a warm and fuzzy romance. I adore small town romance, and books like the Virgin River series where there are strong female friendships and romance.

This is no such book.

Many times I felt like the author didn’t give her characters enough credit, nor did she write men I could believe were people – they were cookie cutter stereotypes and wholly unlikeable. Which, in the context of the story made since – I don’t believe we were supposed to like them. When one man explains why the break-up is his ex-wife’s fault because she didn’t just believe in him – that he should never have to explain himself or be open and honest I wanted to gag. That heroine had good reason to be suspicious, and when a simple explanation would have made it a laughing matter vs a divorce I can’t see how she is totally to blame for his wounded pride.

When another tells his ex how she has a bad attitude and was responsible for their break-up, I was shocked that she bought it. Who would hear that they are too independant, that they don’t “need” their man and feel this is somehow a fault of their own? Who hears from an ex that they have a bad attitude and instantly begin wondering if they need to be softer, kinder towards men? Women in this town, apparently. Of course, that woman is also a doormat who allows her children to walk all over her – so perhaps it fits.

Our third leading lady continues to have trouble with love and also business, but the author leaves us with some hint that perhaps romance is in her future. Honestly, my only actual complaint against the book itself is that this author gives little glimpses that perhaps “romance” is coming and she shouldn’t because she is not going to deliver that in a believable or satisfying way.

In the end, this book did not work for me in any way, nor will I try this author again because I do  not enjoy this kind of book. That isn’t to say it is a bad book! Despite my issues and overall dislike, the author does have a nice voice and her story moves right along. I had no problem reading this book and quickly too. While I did not set it down with any sense of holiday cheer or spirit, while it wasn’t especially fun or uplifting, I can see how some readers would like, maybe even prefer this town where relationships don’t work out and love is so rare. If you have a friend who likes general fiction and would want to read a holiday book that is totally female-centric and where ‘happily ever after’ doesn’t come into play and nobody leans on or stands by their man, then recommend this one.

Grade: C-

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  1. says

    Thanks for the review, and I would certainly have expected romance, or at least humor like a Jill Mansell book. They don’t even kick the male’s asses?

  2. may says

    I love this cover so hard, I picked it up in Target actually and was like “ooh!” then I realized what book it was, and put it down sadly. DANG! I wish the cuteness of the covers matched the content inside.

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