This is the second Rowan book I realized I hadn’t read so eagerly dove into this pseudo sequel. It’s a short novella that offers a glimpse into the characters from A Note in the Margin, which I loved to pieces. It’s nice to see the main characters again although there doesn’t feel like tremendous progress has been made. Instead it’s a holiday themed story that lets readers revisit favorites without really changing anything. The relationship dynamic between all the characters remains largely the same without much deviation. Fans of the novel will likely want to read this to enjoy the couple once more but it’s not a must read.
In the twelve days prior to Christmas, Jamie decides it’s time to get into the Christmas spirit. Although Christmas in Australia means no snow and hot temperatures, Jamie wants to decorate the shop and do the holiday right. David initially agrees and tries to create a hand drawn advent calendar but memories of his son and the holiday overwhelm him. John does his best to support his partner but he has his own memories and past that weigh on him.
Although the story doesn’t feel heavy, it’s not necessarily a light weight read. The issues brought up and the characters themselves are dealing with heavier problems than easy, breezy holiday fun. David is very much the same character from the novel with his coping problems and mental illness. It’s hard to see much progress but perhaps that’s the point. Likewise John remains the constant support for David, always forgiving and understanding. There’s a brief glimpse into John’s past but it’s negligible. In fact, I’d forgotten how that information connected to John from the main novel.
Interestingly this story almost focuses more on Jamie than any other character. He’s the driving force and the sort of “glue” that holds the three of them together. There’s a small love interest for Jamie but that seems to go nowhere. It could have been eliminated entirely though it adds some levity to the otherwise darker tone. The writing once again is lush without being overdrawn and has a simple, elegance to the prose that sucks you in from the start. I’d be interested in reading a fully fleshed out sequel but only if the characters make some significance progress. Otherwise these small interludes are nice additions.