I won a copy of this book a year ago in a giveaway and, because it is holiday themed, had hoped to squeeze it in before Christmas. That didn't happen, so I made a point of reading it in time for the holidays this year. But, did it get me into the holiday mood? Sadly, no.
This is a novel that takes place over one day. I've read books that have been successful with this, but they are the exception to the rule. In the case of this book, it left me feeling just plain exhausted, instead of hopeful or maybe festive--which is what I think the intended reaction were. While I think the time frame played a big part in this, the large cast of characters didn't help. I was constantly thrown from one character to the next and from story line to story line.
To make matters worse, none of the characters are at all interesting. The one who did stick out to me was Sophie, and she was so horribly cliche that she left a bad taste in her mouth. Two characters--Mark and Nathan--were so bland that I couldn't tell them apart. Every time we came to their stories, I had to take a minute and try to remember who was who.
I didn't realize until after I finished this novel that there was an earlier book. This surprised me because this didn't really feel like a second-in-a-series novel and, moreover, I can't imagine how an earlier novel would be interesting. These are not fleshed out characters and I had no interest in any backstory that an earlier novel would provide.
I have a suspicion that Dunn was trying to recreate the feel of a British rom-com, such as Love Actually, with this novel. I can't say he was entirely unsuccessful. It did feel like a rather bad British rom-com, so I guess there is some level of accomplishment there. That doesn't change the fact that I did not find it an enjoyable read.
I wish this had been a more successful book for me, but there were just too many things working against it. If it had been stronger in just one area--character, plot, or even just pacing--it might have made the difference...but that was not the case.