Category Romance Review: Merry Christmas by Emma Darcy

Merry Christmas, Emma Darcy, Harlequin, 1997, Cover Artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #1923

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

4 stars

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Reviewed by Introvert Reader

Before I discuss this romance, let me address the unfortunate cover. I don’t care how awesome that free book bag was! The editors at Harlequin dropped the ball with this one! That vast yellow oval covers the main couple’s faces. You can’t see the heroine, the hero, or that this was Emma Darcy‘s 60th book.

Simply titled Merry Christmas, Emma Darcy’s category romance foray into the holidays may have you near tears. It may also have you wishing some evil villains get their well-deserved comeuppance. This book throws almost every trope at you but the metaphorical kitchen sink. It’s an angst-filled yet ultimately very happy Christmas Harlequin Presents.

Christmas Past

Many years ago, Meredith or Merry (Get it? Merry as in Merry Christmas?) Palmer had a summer romance with college student Nick Hamilton. Merry lied about her age, as she was technically a minor. She and Nick fell into what Meredith believed was true love. But Merry’s wicked stepmother caught wind of the relationship and informed the 21-year-old Nick he was dating a 16-year-old.

Summer came to an end. Nick went off to school, leaving Merry with a promise to reconnect every Christmas. He believed it was better they go their separate ways for the time being. They needed to both grow up a little before delving deeper into commitment.

As is usual in these cases, the affair left Merry pregnant. Merry, an orphan, lived only with her cruel stepmother. After her stepmom kicked her out, she had no one to turn to. So Merry went to Nick’s family, hoping she could get in contact with Nick. That’s when Nick’s (also) cruel sister gave her shocking news. Nick had been in a surfing accident, and his memory was affected so severely that he had no recollection of their “love.”

So Merry could just scat, thank you very much.

When Merry revealed her pregnancy as the reason she needed to talk with Nick, the sister pounced. She manipulated Merry into thinking it would be best if Merry gave her child up for adoption. The sister conspired to take the baby and raise her as her own child, never letting Nick know he was his “niece’s” true father.

Christmas Present

Over a decade later, the sister and her husband are dead. Their “daughter” Kimberly is under her uncle Nick’s guardianship, who has no idea of her true parentage. Kimberly’s not too keen on her uncle’s girlfriend and knows the feeling is mutual. She had heard enough secret conversations in the past to learn she was adopted. Consequently, she demands to meet her biological mother.

Somehow Nick is able to track Merry down. She’s now working as a successful florist. When Merry and Nick meet once more, alas, he doesn’t recognize her at all. Merry is devastated that he doesn’t recall their love affair, which meant so much to her. She’s been celibate and pining for him for over 12 years.

Merry is anxious to meet Kimberly. Nevertheless, she is devastated the love of her life doesn’t remember her.

Making the situation worse is that Nick has a mean fiancee who thinks she’s better than everyone else. Merry and Kimberly included.

Nick is drawn to Merry, as deep in his subconscious he knows that there’s a connection between them. When the fiancee gets kicked to the curb, Nick pursues Merry.

Kimberly, for her part, is delighted. She hated her uncle’s girlfriend. Nothing would please her more if her mother and her “uncle” were to fall in love.

Christmas Future

But keep in mind, Nick still doesn’t remember who Merry is. He wants to know more about Kimberly’s parentage. The story of Merry having a summer-fling with a young man who pledged to keep in touch but never did resonates with Nick.

Just who is Merry?

In the end, all is revealed. The truth behind Merry and Nick’s separation and Kimberly’s heritage comes to light. Nick is shocked by the depths of his sister’s machinations. It’s a good thing she’s dead. There’s no one left alive to be punished for her crimes. Rather than dwell on bitterness, Merry, Nick, and Kimberly focus on their newfound happiness and the future.

Final Analysis of Merry Christmas

The trio comes together as a family in the unity of Christmas. The ending of Merry Christmas was super sweet. It’s the kind of story that makes you believe in miracles.

I initially gave this 3 1/2 stars, added an extra 1/2 star for its wonderfully corny and uplifting Holiday spirit.

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