It’s not the destination…it’s the journey.
As promised in my genre mashup post here (and just in time to kick off the holiday season), Melinda Huber has released Christmas in Switzerland, a Christmas-themed addition to her Lakeside Hotel contemporary romance series.
“Whoa, there…” I can hear your protests now. “You said this week was all about genre mashups. How does that include a straight-up romance?”
The answer is simple. Because there is really only ONE requirement for a romance novel (a happily ever after or HEA), romances by definition are mashups with any other genre. It’s not to be confused with a love story (where one or more lovers often dies, resulting in much blubbering, snot, and soggy tissue production). If one of the lovers dies in a romance novel, it’s probably because it’s mashed with a paranormal and come sundown, the lover will rise more sexy than ever but with distinctly differing dietary requirements.
Of course, there are many out there who dismiss the romance genre as formulaic because its essentially defining feature is that there will be a HEA. How, critics ask, can you retain your feminist creds, your intellectual status, your literary chops if you pick up a book where you already know how it ends?
Well… tell me this. How many times do you plan a vacation where you have no idea of your destination? Not that often, I’d bet. My guess is that you’d say it’s the journey that matters, not the final destination—but very few want that destination to be a surprise. And it’s the same with the romance genre. Sure, we expect the two main characters to end up together. But the paths taken to reach that point are literally infinite in number. Just ask Elizabeth Bennett (Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen), Claire Randall (Outlander by Diana Gabaldon), Kate Daniels (Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews) or any of the literally millions of romance heroines how they arrived at their HEAs.
Some of those paths are so well-travelled that the scenery is boring and the tour has become a cliche. (Billionaire boss/magical nanny/little fill-in-the-blank cozy shop by the fill-in-the-blank cozy location…) . Others, though familiar, still offer plenty of exciting, gorgeous, and just plain romantic scenery along the way. One such romance series that I’ve been particularly enjoying is Melinda Huber’s Lakeside series.
My Review: 4 stars out of 5 for Christmas in Switzerland: A Fabrian Books Feel-Good Novella (Lakeside series Book 4)
Do you remember the last really nice wedding you went to? Not necessarily the most posh or the one with most trendy, edgy theme. No, I’m talking about the one where there were so many stories about how the couple (who everyone likes) met, their families, the funny things that happened to them. Some of the speeches mention beloved family and friends who would have loved to see this special day. Then you eat a little too much, dance a little too long, and drink…well, probably more than a little too much. When you finally have to leave, you take away the warm feeling that these two special people—who are clearly meant for each other—are embarking on a long wonderful life together.
That’s the feeling I get from reading Melinda Huber’s wonderful Lakeside series. Stacy and Rico are like the young couple everyone is rooting for at that special family wedding. They don’t meet-cute and then little forest animals are making Stacey’s wedding gown a day later. In fact, their romance blossoms slowly, with all the usual communication issues dialed up to 9 because Stacy is British (and engaged) and Rico is Swiss (and heading back to school).
By the time they reach Christmas in Switzerland, the fourth book in the series, readers will feel like Rico and Stacy are family members. We know all the obstacles—life-threatening, relationship-testing, or just laugh-out-loud—that will make up those wedding stories. These are three-dimensional characters with both flaws and virtues who keep working toward success despite the boulders the fates put in their path.
The setting is magic, a wonderful Lakeside Hotel in Switzerland that’s been in Rico’s family but which has suffered from neglect and tragic loss. Although Rico and Stacy have made progress, their first Christmas managing the hotel is full of challenges that test their resources and their relationship. Rico, still mourning the loss of his mother, isn’t ready to see his father move toward a new relationship. One of their guests, Carol, is looking forward to a short holiday in Switzerland before flying out to meet her family in Australia for Christmas. But when disaster strikes, the already stretched resources of the hotel must be extended further to help her. Tension builds between Rico and Stacy as they try to make holiday memories for their guests but have little leftover for themselves.
I particularly loved the description of Swiss Christmas traditions, especially treat-bearing Samiclaus and his black-clad sidekick Schmützli, and (supposedly) their donkey but “…you’d be amazed at how often the donkey is ‘sick’ on the 6th of December!”
Christmas in Switzerland is just what it says on the tin, “a feel-good novella”. It’s a perfect holiday read, and lucky you! You have time to read the earlier books and still find a cozy spot near the tree to curl up with Christmas in Switzerland. Schöni Wiehnachte!
Christmas is approaching, the Lakeside Hotel is full of English-speaking guests, and Stacy and Rico can’t wait to show them a real Swiss Christmas. There’s a visit from the Samiclaus, a Guetzli-baking demonstration, a snowman competition – not to mention the trip to Davos.
But in the middle of all the festivities, a guest has a huge problem and Stacy is left running backwards and forwards, wondering if she’ll last the distance. And Rico’s father is behaving very oddly, too.
It doesn’t feel a lot like Christmas at Lakeside any more… Can Stacy get the magic back, before it’s too late for her and Rico?