Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Review: The Christmas Strike by Nikki Rivers

The Christmas Strike by Nikki Rivers
Series: Standalone
Published: December 1st, 2006
Publisher: Harlequin
286 pages (paperback)
Genre: Women’s fiction
Acquired this book: From the library
Warning: May contain spoilers
{GoodReads || Purchase this book: Amazon }

You can't give to others...until you give to yourself!

With Christmas only twelve days away, supermom Abby Blake is going on strike. Sure she loves her grown daughters and their families, but do they all have to be so...well, needy? Having made her stand, Abby's not about to let anything - or anyone - stop her. Especially her sworn enemy - alpha male extraordinaire Cole Hudson.

Abby convinces him to fly her to Chicago on his private jet for a little R and R. But Cole's got other plans - a surprise detour to Paris. And thanks to a luxury suite, a fabulous shopping spree and enough sparks flying between her and Cole to light up the Eiffel Tower, life is definitely looking up for Abby. Maybe this "strike" should grow into a year-round holiday...

While browsing at the library one day, I was in the mood for a few Christmas stories, and the Eiffel Tower on the cover of The Christmas Strike drew my attention. In keeping with my odd book-choosing ways, I didn't read the synopsis, so within the first few pages when I discovered Abby was 52 and a mother and grandmother, I almost stopped reading. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to relate to her or connect with her at all. But I did, and I’m so glad I kept reading.

I think a lot of people will be able to relate to Abby, no matter their age. Many women get lost in their roles - wife, mother, employee/business woman, whatever - and feel unappreciated and taken for granted. That was how Abby felt after having her daughter, son-in-law, and three young grandchildren move in with her when her son-in-law lost his job. She realized her whole life had been put on hold because of other people - sick parents, then children of her own, then suddenly become a widow at a very young age. She’d never really done anything for herself, and had lost herself somewhere along the way. Even though I’m younger than Abby and don’t have the responsibilities she does, I completely empathized with her feeling a bit lost and unsure.

Enter Cole, who seems like he would be all wrong for Abby, but ends up surprising her in all kinds of good ways. Abby’s not used to someone else taking charge, and she’s also not used to being in charge of her own life - going where she wants to when she wants to, and doing basically whatever she wants. Along the way she discovers feelings long forgotten, and gets the long overdue chance to find out how Abby really is - just Abby, not mother, grandmother, business owner, or any of the other roles she's grown accustomed to over the years.

Another aspect of the book I loved was that Paris played a big role. So many books that have a foreign setting just mention it in passing, but Paris was almost like another character, and I loved that. I went to France when I was seventeen, and reading this book made me feel like I was right back there, while at the same time making me yearn to return.

I was expecting a light, cute holiday read when I picked up The Christmas Strike, and while that’s what I got, I also felt like I got a lot more. This story had a surprising amount of heart and depth, and I connected with it on many levels. It didn’t hurt that there were parts that were laugh-out-loud funny, make-you-pant sexy, and just plain old sweet and heartwarming. Overall The Christmas Strike is a near perfect holiday read.

Have you read The Christmas Strike? What are some of your favourite holiday reads? Have you ever stopped reading/chosen not to read a book because of the age of the main character?

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