Merry & Bright

Title: Merry & Bright
Author: Joanna Chambers
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: November 23, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Holiday Anthology
Page Count: 203
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Three seasonal love stories from Joanna Chambers

Humbug – Quin Flint is unimpressed when his gorgeous colleague, Rob Paget, asks for extra time off at Christmas. As far as Quin is concerned, Christmas is a giant waste of time. Quin’s on the fast track to partnership, and the season of goodwill is just getting in the way of his next big project. But when Quin’s boss, Marley, confiscates his phone and makes him take an unscheduled day off, Quin finds himself being forced to confront his regrets, past and present, and think about the sort of future he really wants…and who he wants it with.

Mr Perfect’s Christmas – Sam Warren’s new job hasn’t been going so well so the last thing he’s in the mood for is the obligatory office Christmas party, particularly since Nick Foster’s going to be there. Nick–the guy whose shoes Sam has been trying to fill–seems to take very opportunity to point out where Sam’s going wrong. But when Sam receives an unexpected Secret Santa gift at the party, he’s forced to question his assumptions about his rival. Could it be that he’s been misinterpreting Nick’s actions all along? And is it possible that his reluctant attraction to Nick is reciprocated?

Rest and Be Thankful – Things haven’t been going well for Cam McMorrow since he moved to Inverbechie. His business is failing, his cottage is falling apart and following his very public argument with café owner Rob Armstrong, he’s become a social outcast. Cam needs to get away from his troubles and when his sister buys him a ticket to the biggest Hogmanay party in Glasgow, he can’t leave Inverbechie quick enough. But when events conspire to strand him in the middle of nowhere in a snowstorm, not only is he liable to miss the party, he’ll also have to ask his nemesis, Rob, for help.

Merry & Bright is an anthology of three novellas with a holiday setting:

Humbug: I hate Dicken’s “Christmas Carol.” Marley, Tiny Tim, the three ghosts …. yeah, I realize it’s a classic (and the Guthrie Theatre here in Minneapolis has been doing it forever), but it’s stupid, okay?

But Humbug? Loved it – love how Chambers takes the very core of the story and retells it so beautifully. Sure, Quin is a work-obsessed jackass who has alienated people left and right. He’s destroyed a wonderful relationship with his former boyfriend Ben, and is on the fast track to a sad and lonely life. I really felt his pain when the realization hits him that he has squandered time, he’s thrown away love with both hands. And his eventual redemption, with the help of his co-worker Rob? Touching and realistic, without being too coy or overly sentimental. For such a short story, this really packs a punch. 5 stars.

Mr. Perfect’s Christmas – After losing his job at a big London law firm, Sam finally finds a position at a small firm in the northwest. But Sam has a hard time adapting to the new firm, isn’t sure he’s doing a good job and his predecessor Nick (or “Wonder Boy” as Sam thinks of him) keeps dropping by the office giving “helpful” tips about his former cases, making Sam worry about his continued employment. But at the office Christmas party, Sam learns that he is mistaken about a lot of things, most particularly about Nick. Turns out, two people may not be perfect, but they can be perfect for each other. 3.5 stars for this short tale.

Rest and Be Thankful – After being downsized from his accounting job, Cam starts Glen Croe Adventures, offering canoeing, kayaking and cycling adventures. But his first winter is difficult, with no bookings, no money, and no friends in the small village of Inverbechie after a fight with local cafe owner / artist Rob Armstrong. Cam has plans to celebrate New Year’s Eve in Glasgow, but when his Volvo dies 200 feet from Rob’s cabin, his plans change. I like how Cam learns that “expressing desire, maybe even expressing need, may not be a sign of weakness at all, but of strength. And that, sometimes—maybe—self-sufficiency might be its own kind of cowardice” while Rob envisions a new beginning after the death of his partner Andrew, and a possible future with Cam. 4 stars.

I really enjoyed this anthology by Joanna Chambers. She does a beautiful job of setting the stage for each short story and creating fully-developed characters who are easy to care about. Merry & Bright is a perfect read for the holiday season and I give it 4 stars.

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Galley copy of Merry & Bright provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader