Book Review | Ghosts of Boyfriends Past | Carly Alexander

How to find Christmas Spirirt by boyfriend. Book Review | Ghosts of Boyfriends Past by Carly Alexander.

How To Find Christmas Spirit by Boyfriend

When your Christmas memories are recalled by the man you spent the season with, have you lost the true spirit of the season?

“ Every time I turn around, some Christmas memory pops into my head. Skating with Henry. Shopping at Blendel’s with Philippe. Desserts with Logan at Serendipity...”
Madison, Prologue, pg 13, para 12

Within the Leaves of Ghosts of Boyfriends Past

This book is written in four parts, transporting the story through different Christmas times and places.

Madison Greenwood finds herself in her 30's and without that special someone to share this holiday season with. No kids, no man, just her best friends Sugar and Leo.

She has figured out What she is looking for in a partner, but can’t figure out Why she hasn’t found it. Feeling sorry for herself she starts to take a trip down memory lane of the past decade of holidays, and the boyfriends she shared them with. 

We, the lucky readers get to come along on this entertaining ride.

The book opens with Madison meeting up with her two best friends, Sugar and Leo, in Rockefeller Square for a drink.  While watching Leo skate, she remembers back to the first Christmas after her college graduation and this brings us into Part 1.

Part 1, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, San Francisco, 1993

Madison and Leo are going to visit Madison’s parents for the holiday season. Her Mom does Christmas large. On the airplane they are discussing whether or not to take on a new room-mate, Sugar. She’s for it, he’s not.

Madison introduces Leo to her high school friend Wolf and her ex-boyfriend Ryan. Her mother re-introduces Madison to the caterer, Greg Kasami, another fellow she went to High School with.

Greg is the guy she is remembering in this flashback. Though the sex is hot, and lots of it EVERYWHERE, the connections that make a real relationship are not there.

“Because as much as I like you, I barely know you, Madison. And you don’t know me. You barely know anything about me.”
Greg, Ch 8, pg 114, para 14

Oh, and there is Judd and Ryan whom she also had sex with on that Christmas visit. She also recalls Clay who makes this visit unforgettable for different reasons. 

Clay is also having holiday relations, but not with Madison.

Part 2, Blue Christmas, West 98th Street, December 8, 2003 9:10 pm

We are back in the modern day where we left Madison, Sugar and Leo in Rockefeller Square having that drink.

When Madison returns home she is listening to the messages on her answering machine, one is from an ex whom she discovered was married, one was Ryan (from the San Francisco Christmas) and one was Leo.

He fell on the ice at Rockefeller Square, landed in the hospital and needs her. On her way out Madison's doorman hands her a Christmas card which brings us into the next flashback.

Part 3, London and Environs, December 1998

Madison’s man this Christmas is Ian MacDougal. A Scotsman working as a producer for the BBC. Leo, Jenna and Sugar decided they will fly over to London with Madison who is going abroad to meet up with Ian.

Ian however is called to Scotland to do some scouting for his job, so Madison makes the trip out there to be with him. They stay at a cute and cozy little place called The Newington Inn.

Ian and Madison spend idyllic days together. She finds a ring box in his satchel and her hopes are all coming to pass.

Ian has spoken the words of love, asks her to take a job in London and declares he wants to father Madison’s children. Everything is going better than Madison could hope. The best Christmas of her life.

Until one of Ian’s family members show up to the inn and her ideal falls apart.

“But, I mean, ‘I can’t live without you’ is more a figure of speech.”
Ian, Ch 23, pg 239, para 12

Madison leaves the inn right away, back to London to commiserate in the loving circle of her friends. 

Part 4, Merry Christmas! Well, I guess I’ll Miss This One This Year, New York City

We are back in modern day with Madison at the hospital to see Leo. She goes into work the following morning and realizes that she is responsible for Teddy Bear deliveries to hospitals and daycare centers.

Like many New Yorkers she doesn’t own a vehicle and she is scrambling to find someone to help her pick up the toys and deliver them. She borrows Sugar’s SUV to pick up the bears from FAO Schwarz.

While there she spots another ex whom she has Christmas memories with. However, having learned her lesson already with that one she leaves him right where he is. 

But the problem with toy delivery still looms...

Leo is out of the question, but luckily Ryan works close by and is able to help with the deliveries. 

The two of them head over to the radio station Sugar works for to pick up the SUV and while there, they are pulled into the DJ’s conversation on the shrinking dating pool.

“Cream, I would say it’s not even a pool any more. Call it a puddle of men.”
Madison, Ch 30, pg 288, para 1

During her tree trimming party Madison realizes just how small that puddle really is.

Can Madison finally find that one special person to share the spirit of the holiday’s, and everyday with? 

Sweet-Tea Rating for Ghosts of Boyfriends Past:

 Sugar Lumps  

I bought this book because I am a fan of Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’ and I liked that the title and blurb had the same feel to it. 

The Cast: 

Madison is a party girl who hasn’t quite finished growing up when we first meet her. She will not be to everyone’s taste because of her sexing and boozing ways. 

However I think everyone can appreciate or even relate to the development from young adult to womanhood. 

Even if she is starting a little later than most.

The 4 characters who are constant throughout the story also go through their personal evolutions during the 10 year span we are following Madison.

      Sugar - A college friend who is a DJ on the ‘Mornings with Cream and Sugar’ show

      Leo - Madison’s college roommate who works for a TV station

      Wolf - A high school friend from San Francisco who is a member of the Portuguese Royal family

      Ryan - A childhood friend and ex-high school sweetie

The book contains a lot of people who are important for the short part they play in the story, but as they really just come and go, they are not fleshed out. 

This includes Madison’s parents, so be prepared to have some unanswered questions about them, though their small part has a big impact on Madison.

Character I would most like to share a Cuppa with:

I would love to sit down for a cold cuppa with Sugar. When her Southern roots start to show, you never know what words of wisdom she is going to impart.

“You know, my mama used to tell me this: When the elephants are stampeding, ignore the monkeys throwing coconuts.”

Sugar, Prologue, pg 16, para 2

Element Ratings for Ghosts of Boyfriends Past

Story Flow:

Even though the story bounces through different time lines, the segues were well crafted and the transitions brought you back where you left off in the modern time. 

This made the story flow very nicely. 

The main characters developed at a pace that was plausible and each of their storylines added to the major plot. I found the overall flow a very pleasant reading experience.

Nail Biting:

Ok, I wasn’t completely sure who the Antagonist was here until the last quarter of the book. But the way the story was written, you knew something big was coming. 

Well, maybe not BIG exactly, but there was some anticipation that directed the story along.

The Who was worth a bit of a chomp.



I had mistaken him for the guy he was ten years ago, and he’d definitely evolved into a person with many facets and dimensions. But silliness? Who was this man, dancing and singing down the snowy avenue?” 

Narrative, Ch 33, pg 310, para 5


“A soul mate is the one magical thing left in life. To know there’s a person out there who can bring total fulfillment. . . it’s a miracle.” 

Narrative, Ch 36, pg 328 para 13, pg 329 para 1

Witnessing the growth and maturity in Madison Greenwood’s character gives me some hope. At the very least they will have an active sex life.


When we finally get to really meet him, he is kind, generous, intelligent, hardworking and dedicated. I love his persistence.

Mmmm. Gotta love a man who will give his heart once and be unshakable in his choice.

Emotion Coaster:

I was rather disgusted that a woman so caring and intelligent was equating sex with love. Her friends did try to subtlety let her in on the difference but even they couldn’t clue her in.

She finally got it though.

Hot-Tea Rating for Ghosts of Boyfriends Past:

The story started off pretty explicitly, but as Madison’s character started to round out and develop the descriptions became more focused on her feelings.

The Last Drop:

Ghosts of Boyfriends Past was an entertaining, humourous and sexy read of one woman’s journey through Christmases of self discovery and of discovering love. A kind of Chick-lit Christmas Carol. 

I recommend this book for anyone looking for the equivalent of a beach read while enjoying their Christmas holidays.

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