cover image Merry and Bright

Merry and Bright

Debbie Macomber. Ballantine, $20 (272p) ISBN 978-0-399-18122-1

Macomber’s heartfelt, cheerful, and almost entirely predictable holiday contemporary finds a bit of freshness in shopworn romance tropes. Merry Knight is finishing up a year of temp work at the Matterson Consulting Firm as the holidays approach. She repeatedly butts heads with her boss, Jayson Bright, but she can’t afford to make too much trouble—her family depends on her income to help make ends meet. As a surprise, her mother and brother build Merry a profile on dating website Mix & Mingle. Meanwhile, ambitious but lonely Jayson sets up his own Mix & Mingle profile. Both profiles use altered names, so when Merry and Jayson begin chatting over the site, neither realizes the person they’re quickly becoming attached to is actually their work nemesis. Merry’s perky innocence and Jayson’s maladjusted elitism grow tiresome quickly, and awkward prose (“Merry hugged her brother and, wrapping her arms around his torso, she gave him a gentle squeeze”) distracts, but Macomber engages through endearing details, such as Merry’s delight in roasted chestnuts. Readers looking for a light and sweet holiday treat will find it here. (Oct.)