'Twas the Night
by Sandra Hill, Kate Holmes and Trish Jensen
Published: 15 November 2010 by Bell Bridge Books
Read: 12-18 November 2010
E-book received from the publisher via NetGalley
2010 Holiday Reading Challenge
We’re about to find out who’s been naughty or nice . . .
It’s Christmas season, and a snowstorm has shut down Philadelphia’s airport. Somehow, Navy pilot Sam Merrick has to get to Maine for his best friend’s wedding. Enter the “Santa Brigade,” a group of boisterous oldsters headed to Maine on a bus chartered by their senior center. Only one problem: the group’s director is Sam’s wounded ex-flame, Reba. Their angry yet romantic sparks start melting the snowflakes . . .
Next the troupe adds bounty hunter Kevin Wilder, Sam's best friend, who needs a ride to Maine while hand-cuffed to his latest capture, the fiery (yet innocent) Callie Brandt. Then, as the Santa Brigade rolls through the night it picks up ex-pro quarterback Stan Kijewski and forest ranger Dana Freeman, a woman so hot she ought to be declared a fire hazard.
So now we have a bus full of cheerfully meddling seniors, three couples battling romantic dilemmas, an ex-NASCAR bus driver who refuses to let the snowbound roads beat her, a stocking full of oddball hitchhikers, and the magic of the holidays, where love waits under the mistletoe on this very special night. (From the introduction)
'Twas the Night was everything I expected it to be: light-hearted, fluffy and utterly predictable – in a good way.
The writers describe it a most unsual anthology – in fact so unusual that they refer to it as a non-anthology. Sandra wrote all the chapters from Sam’s point of view; Trish wrote Kevin’s; and Kate wrote Stan’s. This round-robin style of writing works really well, and the different voices blend in well together. If I did not know better I would have thought one author had written the entire book.
Obviously the premise – three former juvenile delinquents, three gorgeous girls and a bus full of elderly people dressed as Santas – requires some suspension of disbelief, but at this time of year I'm willing to believe anything. This charming holiday tale contains everything you might require of such a book; boys meet girls, a snowstorm, charity work, girls playing hard to get, a mountain lodge, Jingle Bells, boys and girls falling in love and Christmas Eve. But it is more than just fluff. The main characters all have their own background stories, and especially Callie's current situation is interesting (though I feel it could have been explored even more than what was the case).
Callie and Kevin were my favourite couple because their story seemed the most plausible one. Plus, I loved feisty Callie and rugged Kevin (called "JD" – a most clever nickname) and the bickering between them. Sam and Reba were nice too (but seriously, what kind of nickname is "Slick"?), but I thought Stan was a bit arrogant and Dana a bit anonymous.
The Santa Brigade are a hilarious bunch of colourful old people from the guys' hometown who every December travel down the coast visiting homeless shelters, entertaining the kids and handing out presents. They include Emma Smith, the boys' former teacher, hairdresser and cyber-granny Maudeen, old playboy Morey, the anthropologist twins Dr. Meg and Dr. Maggie and Bad-ass Betty, the driver; all of them very, very nosy and very, very endearing.
Like I said this book is as predictable as they come. But that is okay, because the ride is fun and exciting and I enjoyed spending time with this crazy bunch of people. If you're looking for a sweet and fun romantic read for the holidays, 'Twas the Night is the book for you.
My rating: 4/6
Apparently this book was first published in 2001 with the title Here Comes Santa Claus.