Evergreen trees and homes bedecked in red, green and gold, eggnog, gingerbread houses, wonderfully ugly sweaters, festive office parties, romantic Hallmark Channel movies. Another harbinger of the holiday season for many? The annual Christmas novel from author Debbie Macomber.
The best-selling author, 74, publishes two books a year, including a holiday-themed tale every fall. This year’s, The Christmas Spirit, is a heartwarming charmer focused on two longtime friends, Steve and Hank — an earnest pastor and a free-spirited bartender. Each is convinced that the other’s job is far easier, and they decide to trade places in the hectic midst of the holiday season.
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Like so many (if not all) of Macomber’s books, it’s about the wonderful and unexpected things that can happen when you dare to open your heart. And it’s probably no spoiler to note that each character finds love in the end.
“I want to give my readers a story that will amuse them” during what can be a stressful time of year, Macomber says in a phone interview with AARP from her home on Puget Sound in Port Orchard, Washington. “They can put away all the concerns about getting the gifts wrapped, the Christmas cards mailed and the decorations up, and just sit down, read a book and relax.”
A beloved writer
One of the most popular voices in romance and contemporary women’s fiction, Macomber has sold about 200 million copies of her more than 150 books, which include romantic novels (several of which have been turned into Hallmark Channel movies), inspirational nonfiction and even the occasional cookbook (readers had asked her about recipes mentioned in her stories). She is the second overall best-selling romance author, behind Nora Roberts, considering sales since 2004.
Her romances are hardly 50 Shades of Grey — don’t expect the kind of hot sex scenes you’d find in E.L. James’ steamy series or even a Colleen Hoover novel — that’s one reason why her readers love them. “They’re clean books,” explains Eleanore Ralph, 64, a Macomber fan in Monroe Township, New Jersey. “I don’t have anything against books that can be racy, but sometimes you just want a good, satisfying story. There’s something comforting about hers.”