Jingle All the Way: A Novel
“This delightful Christmas story can be enjoyed any time of the year.”
The middle sibling of five, Daisy Lancaster is half-owner of a high-powered Chicago online real estate company called Easy Home. Believing the name Daisy is too frivolous for running a business, she goes by Everly, which to her is more sophisticated. She works long days and is frustrated when her partner Jack Campbell insists she hire his niece Annette as her assistant. Annette is young, immature, and knows nothing about the industry and causes nothing but problems for Everly. When Everly confronts Jack stating Annette must go, he suggests—no, demands—she take a month's vacation. Seeing it is nearing December when things slow down, he insists they'll manage well enough without her, reminding her she hasn't taken time off in six years.
A phone call to her mother in Indiana does not help calm Everly's stress after she hears her say it's a good idea for her to get away. Her mom reminds her how much she was missed last Christmas when she was too busy working to come for the holiday, so Everly promises she will be there after her trip.
On Jack's orders, Annette books a cruise to Brazil for Everly, and though it's against her better judgement to go, she basically has no choice. Jack refuses to fire Annette, and Everly states she will not deal with the young woman’s incompetence. Everly gives in, knowing she needs a break, and after many flight delays, she barely makes it to the ship. Once aboard, she learns there is no TV, phone, pool, or Internet service! How can she do any work, even though she's supposed to relax and not think about the office?
She meets Asher Adams, the naturalist tour advisor, who explains this two-week cruise down the Amazon River offers nothing but the rainforest of which he gives daily lectures and tours off ship for the passengers. Already having departed, Everly cannot disembark, so she determines to brace herself for 14 days of boredom. When she is bitten by a mosquito and becomes extremely ill, she is confined to her tiny quarters for several days. To her relief, she is not alone; Asher helps her recover, spending time with her and nursing her back to health. As they spend this time together, they get to know each other better, and feelings begin to grow. Now Everly is rethinking her life situation.
"Jack had no idea what he'd done when he insisted she take the entire month of December off. Everly was convinced he would live to regret that decision.
"The longer Everly was out of the office, the more she realized how stressed out she was and how badly she needed to slow down and have a life. This vacation had opened her eyes to how she'd fallen victim to her own need to succeed. She'd given up Christmas with her family, lost out on relationships, worked tirelessly—and for what?"
Though Everly imagined this would be the trip from hell, she finds she is enjoying every aspect of it, including the unexpected plunge into the piranha-infested river and being captured by a native tribe.
All too soon they return to port, and the hour of departure is upon Everly. She professes her feelings to Asher, and though he feels the same, he recognizes they live in two different worlds. She has an important career in Chicago while his life consists of giving tours in exotic places, so how could they have any type of future? He explains this to her, letting her go, breaking her heart.
Everly arrives back in the states after her vacation and heads to Indiana questioning herself. Was she wrong? She thought she and Asher shared the same feelings. How could he think so little of her? She assumed what they had was special.
Apprehensive about seeing her parents and siblings again, always having felt like a third wheel, she is delighted and surprised at how they welcome her with open arms. She unburdens herself to her sister about Asher, who shows nothing but empathy for her. Though she is delighted to be home, she states she has some serious misgivings about her future. She cannot go on pulling all the weight in the business, but what else can she do? And, meeting Asher has changed her priorities, but will she ever see or hear from him again? Though confused and dejected, she finds her family offers her the love and comfort she so needs.
Jingle All the Way is somewhat of a departure from Macomber's other novels by bringing a surprising change of locale describing the beauty and dangers of the Amazon. However, she still imparts the importance of family intimacy and support. This delightful Christmas story can be enjoyed any time of the year.