To protect Christmas, this family of wizards will have to use a whole different kind of magic
Part of the Winter clan, the Evergreen family is considered magical nobility. While Evergreen Industries in picturesque Gingerbread, Colorado, might look like an ordinary office building, this is where the magic of Christmas unfolds. Above Santa’s workshop, the Evergreens hold court, manage Christmas and, sometimes against their will and better judgment, fall in love. When it comes to love, the Evergreens know that sometimes you have to play a little naughty to get exactly what—or who—you want from Santa. Celebrate the holidays with Evergreen siblings Cole, Ethan, Dash and Belle in this enchanting collection from New York Times bestselling authors Vicki Lewis Thompson and Rhonda Nelson, Kira Sinclair and Andrea Laurence.
The best way I can describe this book is that if the Hallmark Movie channel wrote a Christmas book, it would be Jingle Spells. Whether this is a good or bad thing probably depends on your feelings about Hallmark style holiday movies. Do you like quick little stories with lots of cute but not much substance? If not, this is not the book for you. In the right mood, I like a cutesy holiday movie, which was pretty much how I felt about Jingle Spells.
The book contains four connected novellas, each one about one of the Evergreen siblings: Cole, Ethan, Dash, and Belle. The Evergreens are wizards who live in Gingerbread, Colorado and are in charge of Christmas. They direct the elves who make the toys, manage the human Santa, keep the world believing in holiday magic, and just generally make Christmas happen.
Though the stories are all connected (and should be read in order), each story is complete and traces a couple. What did I like? The premise is kind of ridiculous, of course, but for some reason at Christmas that kind of ridiculous seems more whimsical than idiotic. It was funny to imagine what it would take to organize Christmas. The siblings have to deal with HR issues (with the elves), a Santa Claus going through a midlife crisis, public relations situations, etc. It’s an entertaining premise. The sex scenes were on the whole hot and interesting, which actually kind of amused me in a book with elves and Christmas cheer. Despite the fact that each story is written by a different author, I thought the style remained fairly consistent throughout. Each sibling did have their own “voice,” but I didn’t notice any inconsistencies or jarring changes between each section.
While I enjoyed myself, the stories are very, very light on world building and character development. Things that are seemingly a big deal, like how if people stop believing in Christmas the magic will die, are never explained, just mentioned. There are supposedly other wizard clans, but they don’t seem to interact or have much to do with the winter clan. There’s no real explanation for why the Evergreens are in charge of Christmas or how the current set up came to be. Each story ends VERY abruptly, too. In some of the stories (notably Cole’s and Ethan’s), there are some seemingly huge obstacles preventing the couple from being together, but then they’re just dispensed with in a couple pages of exceptionally weak explanation leading into a rushed, permanent HEA. I was left feeling frustrated that just when the stories were getting good, they were over (which is often the way I feel about Hallmark style movies, incidentally).
I really only wanted one or maybe two stories–more depth, less breadth. I’m not sure whose story I would like to see most. I was very interested in uber-smart, logical Cole and would have liked to hear more about him, but Ethan was a charmer and really adorable. Dash was sexy and intense and brought a much-needed edge to the book (if you can call a guy who makes Christmas ornaments and enchants the magical sleigh “edgy,” which you probably should not). I definitely thought Belle’s story was the weakest. As a character she was kind of melodramatic, her hero was forgettable, and the plot of that book was a bit too cliche and twee, which is saying a lot in a cutesy Christmas book. I would have preferred a longer story about any of the brothers rather than a rush through all of them like we get here.
I’m glad I read Jingle Spells, but like a made -for-TV holiday movie, the Christmas cheer is fun but fleeting.
Grade: 3.25 out of 5