This is one of those that would have been better as a novella - it's about 200 pages too long.
Also, I don't actually like A Christmas Carol, finding it creepy and weird (should have been named The Nightmare Before Christmas - oh wait…)
To understand the issues I have with this book, let's start with the cast:
Eben, presumably short for Ebenezer (did his parents not like him or something? I mean really…) Middle aged bachelor who mostly singlehandedly runs a ranch. Everyone he was close to has left him. His mom died when his little sister was born, his dad checked out pretty much after that, his sister skipped out after relieving him of his savings, his fiancé… well…
Maddie, former fiance to Eben. Broke up with him after twisting in the wind for 5 years (cue scene from The Bachelor - the shit or get off the pot proposal). Went off and married some rich guy after an unknown amount of time (sounded like not much).
Tad, 6-7 month old baby *not toddler yet; sorry. Only regular player in book who didn't annoy me (mostly because he acted like what he was - a baby)
Hope/Joy, 4 year old twins. Undisciplined, manipulative, chatty and in desperate need of learning the word "NO"
Dillon, 7 year old who acts like a 12 year old whose balls are thinking about dropping. Mouthy, disrespectful, etc.
Plot device - crooked banker trying to take ranch, thus adding to the drama.
Eben gets notice that he has 60 days to pay off mortgage or bank will foreclose and sell to developers. While he's fretting about this, car drops off 4 kids . His sister and her husband were killed. (apparently there was no insurance either but somehow someone could afford to send the baby furniture via movers). Maddie - ex - comes to "help" by offering to buy horses, offering parenting advice, etc. Btats..er..twins throw tantrum over a tree after snooping in the attic (where no 4 year old should be snooping) and finding decorations that middle aged bachelor had failed to get rid of for some reason. Maddie jumps his case about the whole thing. Well, guess what. I didn't have a tree either this year. So? Other brat, I mean, Dillon, has been acting like prepubescent male at school - disruptive, failing to do homework. Teacher calls. Eben comes down on him and tells him to do his homework. He refuses and runs off. Nearly gets himself killed. More judgement from the ex. Eben asks her to marry him again, she says yes, gets mad and leaves because he wants to wait a month. Hell, they've barely been speaking to each other for the past month. Oh, she gets a tad huffy about his comment regarding her running off and marrying a rich guy. Shoe fits. Kids collect cactus for Christmas tree (I had this sudden fear they'd nabbed a Saguaro). Eben asks cow, I mean, Maddie - again - to marry him, giving her his mother's ring this time and promising immediate resolution.
Sigh… Ok, I get that 5 years of waiting around was a bit much (ok, it was ridiculous), but demanding marriage now when you haven't even actually gone on a date is a bit much too. People change. And the kids… Oh God. I wanted to reach through the pages, grab those twins' ears, and sit their asses down. Sit down and shut up!