Title ~ Humbug
Author ~ Joanna Chambers
Published ~ 19th November 2015
Genre ~ Christmas, Contemporary M/M Romance
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.
I absolutely put my hand up to being a bit lacking in the Christmas Spirit department. No, I haven’t already got my decorations out to see what needs replacing. No, I won’t be putting my tree up before Christmas Eve. No, I’m not scouring the virtual bookshelves for Christmas stories. But there are certain traditions I cherish and one of those is an annual reading of the Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the book that shares with Coco Cola’s appropriation of St Nick responsibility for most people’s mental image of what constitutes the ideal Christmas.
But the story is far more than a Christmas for Dummies primer. It carries a message of how a wrong turn in one’s youth can turn life into a misery that is all too easy to spread around, but that redemption is possible if only one has the sense to face up to it. That is a universal message of hope and one very well worth revisiting.
In this delightful re-telling of the Scrooge story, young Quin Flint [hah! Skinflint – we see what you did there Joanna] has wholly embraced the corporate work ethic. Once a clever but fairly ordinary boy, he discovered something that he could excel at and it has taken over his entire being. I found the first few pages of the book both hysterical and disturbing as Quin apparently speaks in tongues – that corporate bullshit word soup that calls a spade a user-powered hand held earth moving implement – to justify letting friends and family down and being a total bastard to his work colleagues. His long suffering best friend, Freddy, desperate to include him in social events despite his resistance, the security guard at work with his lovingly made mince pies, the new receptionist, Holly, who isn’t too sure what a latte is ( I can really sympathise with that) and his colleague Rob Paget who does a good job in addition to meeting his family responsibilities, all get nuked by Quin’s incandescent zeal to stay at the top of his game, no matter who suffers for it.
You can sort of sympathise with Quin but only in a tough love sort of way. I wanted to slap the corporate Kool-Aid out of his hand and make him do something messy and humiliating but therapeutic, like pottery maybe. Or goat herding. But Quin would demand to excel at those too. He’s really got that ‘must be best at all costs’ personality and only a huge emotional jolt can shake him out of it. This jolt is provided by his boss Marley, founder of Marlene Quick, a company that is delighted to do the dirty work for other companies that need to make staff redundant. She taught Quin everything he knows about reducing people to strings of figures and valuing only for thei contribution to the bottom line. When she shows signs of humanity Quin is shaken to the core.
I really enjoyed how the building blocks of Dickens story were shaken up and given a modern makeover. They are all there – ghosts as well – and it was almost as much fun drawing the parallels as it was reading Quin’s emotional journey from corporate cockroach to a decent caring human being. I loved the names and the plays on words. Ah heck I just loved it all. If you only read one Christmas story this year, let it be this one.
Connect with Joanna
Joanna Chambers always wanted to write. She spent over 20 years staring at blank sheets of paper and despairing of ever writing a single word. In between staring at blank sheets of paper, she studied law, met her husband and had two children. Whilst nursing her first child, she rediscovered her love of romance and found her muse. Joanna lives in Scotland with her family and finds time to write by eschewing sleep and popular culture.