cover image The Christmas Spirit

The Christmas Spirit

Debbie Macomber. Ballantine, $22 (240p) ISBN 978-0-593-50010-1

Bestseller and Hallmark Channel stalwart Macomber (Dear Santa) does it again with a candy cane–sweet holiday romance about two friends who swap lives for a week before Christmas. Framed as a true story told by a grandmother to her two young grandchildren, the narrative toggles between the present day and 1977, when bar owner Hank Colfax and church pastor Pete Armstrong got into a debate about whose job was easier. Hank assumes Pete’s job is a walk in the park without the hassle of taxes and paperwork, while Pete thinks Hank must be partying every night. The men hatch a plot to trade professions for the holiday season, and each quickly finds their assumptions proven wrong—while also finding love in the most unlikely of places. Pete’s instantly taken by Millie, a waitress at a biker bar who comes to his rescue in a moment of peril, and Hank melts the icy heart of the judgmental church secretary, Grace Ann. An eclectic supporting cast—including cadres of strippers and bikers—and a comically disastrous climactic Christmas Eve church service make the narrative shine bright. It’s exactly what readers want from a Macomber holiday outing. Agent: Theresa Park, Park & Fine. (Oct.)