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Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Unlike a lot of people, I’m not that big on Christmas, but the idea of An Unconventional Christmas caught my attention. What was author Tara Fox Hall's vision of an “unconventional” Christmas? Would I agree and even enjoy her concept? When Hall introduced her protagonist, Miss Romance, my first thought was “Oh no…this is a fairy tale”! Well, it does have a kind of fairy tale ending…just perfect for those warm fuzzy feelings we want and need at Christmas, and quite honestly, this delightfully clever bit of holiday fiction is just what the doctor ordered. Miss Romance, in her dedication to keeping couples in love, will quickly dispel some of the doom and gloom we might all be feeling right now about global wars, election upsets, and triple viruses.
When a new client, Viola, hires Cyprus, i.e. Miss Romance, to save her marriage from divorce, Cyprus comes up with a genius idea: have the couple learn to love again by making them find time for each other despite their busy careers. For each of those unusual gifts cited in the carol The Twelve Days of Christmas, Cyprus finds a modern, more appropriate gift for the couple to give each other. After all, unless you’re a farmer or bird watcher, who wants partridges, hens, doves, and geese for Christmas anyway? As Christmas draws closer and closer, so do Viola and her overworked and worried funeral director husband, Kendrick. Like magic, Cyprus’ solution seems to be working but right near the big day, all hell breaks loose over Christmas dinner with the families. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Cyprus is ready to give up on Viola and Kendrick, especially when she finds her own love life becoming too complicated. But, as I hinted above, that fairytale ending is coming and like Santa, it’s well worth the wait.
I thoroughly enjoyed An Unconventional Christmas for its novelty, but even more so for its important underlying message that it’s near impossible to keep love alive when couples don’t take time out for each other or are always putting careers ahead of each other. What Tara Fox Hall gives us through this novel, written with both humor and sensitivity, is a close-up lens through which to examine our own relationships. That examination is both enjoyable and worthwhile. On a parting note, this would make a wonderful Christmas movie on the Disney channel!