Three (plus one) by Ann McMan is a newly reissued Christmas short story collection. Anyone who’s seen my top 10 lists knows they never have just 10 books on them, so how could I not love a trilogy with 4 stories in it?
Diz and Clarissa are coworkers, and after working together for a couple of years, it finally comes out at the company Christmas party that the attraction Diz feels for Clarissa is mutual. If those names or that premise sounds familiar, that’s because the first story, “Nevermore!”, also appears in Sidecar.
Each story shows us Diz and Clarissa’s Christmas for four years in a row, from the first expression of interest, to getting together, sharing Christmas with both of their families, to… well, I won’t spoil that for you. If you read the original release of Three, you’ll still want to pick this up because the last story, newly added for this edition, has all your favourite parts of a Diz and Clarissa story, with a little something special to wrap it up.
I love Diz and Clarissa. They’re both witty and brilliant, and their conversations are magic. Diz has a heart so big that she always says yes to a friend in need, often leading her to get into trouble. Clarissa is seemingly straight in the first story, and she grows so much as her life becomes more entwined with Diz’s. Coming from disparate backgrounds, they may not make sense on paper, but their relationship is satisfying to watch as it develops.
Between their friends, coworkers, relatives, neighbours, and even a demon dog or two, there’s a full cast of side characters to complement the two mains. They’re often quirky, sometimes silly, and help bring the world of these stories to life with their antics.
The Writing Style
Three (plus one) is a fun, gentle read. The stories are paced well and the language is sharp and hilarious. Some of the situations are ridiculous, but I mean that in the best possible way. I defy anyone to read this book without smiling and laughing their way through it.
The first two stories are written in the third person and the last two are told in the first person, all of them from Diz’s perspective. Both ways work very well, although I’d love to read something from Clarissa’s perspective (thank goodness she’s not stingy with sharing what she thinks and feels).
Christine Williams is back again with the perfect voice for Ann McMan’s words! Williams does a fabulous job bringing Diz, Clarissa, and their motley crew to life. She makes the funny parts funnier, the sweet parts sweeter, and it’s an ideal audiobook to enjoy in the run up to the holidays. I highly recommend it.
I like everything about this book, between the characters and their growth, the dialogue, and the silly situations. It’s such a satisfying read that, although it’s a Christmas book, I could see myself picking it up again any time of year. Even the cover is fantastic! (On a side note, Ann McMan has been KILLING IT with her cover design this year. Each one I’ve seen is beautiful and is helping lesfic get more attractive all the time.)
I also love that it’s a series of short stories about the same people. It’s like we get snapshots into Diz and Clarissa’s lives in little, easily digestible chunks. This delivers the satisfying feeling of a good rom-com without having to go through the typical tropes and construction of a romance novel.
I’m almost out of Ann McMan books that I can read for the first time.
I totally recommend this book. It’s so much fun and with the short story format you can read the whole thing in a day or parcel them out and savour them. This is a Christmas book you can read anytime, especially if you like hilarious, heartwarming stories.
Excerpt from Three (plus one) by Ann McMan
Clarissa looked at her. In the soft lamplight, her eyes looked more hypnotic than usual, and that was saying a lot. Diz got an idea. Well, it was a repeat of the same idea she’d had earlier at the club. She leaned toward her, but gravity wasn’t cooperating. She missed her target and kept going. Clarissa barely caught her.
“Come on, Casanova. Where’s your bedroom?”
“That was fast,” Diz slurred. “I was at least gonna make us drinks.”
Damn, she smelled good. Diz dropped a sloppy kiss on her neck. “I really like you,” she muttered.
Clarissa steered them toward the stairs. “I really like you, too. And I’ll like you a whole lot more when I can get your clothes off. You smell like a brewery.”
Diz continued to nuzzle her neck as they made halting progress up the stairs. “You wanna get me naked? I’ve always wanted to get you naked.”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed.” Clarissa pushed Diz’s hand away from her breast. “Step. Step. One more. That’s right. You can do it.”
You bet I can do it, Diz thought.
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Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9781612941059
- Publisher: Bywater Books
- Audiobook Publisher: Treehouse Studio
- Narrator: Christine Williams
- Ann McMan’s Website
Note: I received a free review copy of Three (plus one) by Ann McMan. No money was exchanged for this review. I will always review books as honestly as possible and on occasion I refuse to review books.