Tuesday, November 23, 2021

The Christmas Promise - Richard Paul Evans

You know Christmas is on the way when Richard Paul Evans releases his yearly holiday read. The Christmas Promise is this year's tale.

As children, Richelle and Michelle couldn't be more different, even though they were twins. As adults, they each went their own way. And now, Richelle finds herself alone. Her work at the hospital keeps her busy and her writer's group lets her dream of being an author. Still, she is lonely. When Justin joins the writer's group, there is an immediate attraction....

You always know what to expect with Evans' annual Christmas missive. Relationships are always at the forefront, as is love, loss, redemption and a satisfying conclusion with fresh starts. 

I liked Richelle as the main character. Her dedication to her patients on the children's ward is admirable and she has aspirations, but she still resonates loneliness. I was happy for her when she met Justin. The connection is there, he says and does the 'right' things. But I'm quite a pragmatic person, so her jumping into the deep end right away seemed to be a bit reckless. And somewhat dangerous as one supporting character voices. 

Now, I had my suspicions as to what might found in the latter chapters. And yes, I was right. Normally Evans would have hit all the right notes for me, but this one just fell a bit short. Why? Justin isn't completely honest with Richelle and her decision making employs the partial truths he doles out. And honestly I found him to be more than a little sanctimonious. (I'm deliberately trying to be obtuse as I don't want to provide spoilers)

Helene Maksoud has narrated some of the previous Christmas novellas by Evans. It's nice to have that continuity. She is an excellent reader and again provided a wonderful performance. Her voice is clear spoken, easy to understand and quite pleasant to listen to. Her reading is well paced. The voice she uses for Richelle suited the character well. As the story unfolds, she uses her voice to capture the emotions, interactions and plot developments. She deepens her tone and provides a male voice that suited the mental image I had for Justin. The two characters are differentiated enough that you always know who is speaking. Hear for yourself - listen to an audio excerpt of The Christmas Promise.

A good performance, but just an okay tale for me.

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