Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Book Review: The Magic of Christmas

The Magic of Christmas - Harlequin Historical Western Anthology 2008

My Rating: Great! - 4 ½ stars (a keeper)

Fantastic Christmas stories. I loved them. This book has 3 emotional Christmas novellas, all of which appropriately involve infants. Of the 3 authors, 2 of them - Cheryl St. John and Victoria Bylin - are favourites of mine. I will buy books from these 2 women on sight without even reading the back cover. And, their novellas in this book have reinforced my opinion of their writing.

The first novella, however was written by Carolyn Davidson. a new author to me. I have to say I wonder what the editors were thinking when they put her novella first in this anthology. Why? Because I expected something Christmassy with love and forgiveness - especially after looking at the gorgeous cover with a young couple holding a baby. But, the first novella starts with disease, death and was depressing to me. I actually wondered why I was reading it. But, I was sent the book to review and like I said, I was eager to read Vicki and Cheryl's novellas, so I persevered And, of course, I'm glad I did.

A Christmas Child by Carolyn Davidson:

Heat level: Sensual

Marianne Winters' mother dies from typhoid right after giving birth to a boy. Marianne takes her brother to a new town and can't even find a warm place to stay. When the lonely young pastor, David McDermott offers refuge, they run into public opposition from busy bodies in the church who believe the baby isn't Marianne's brother, but her ‘born out of wedlock' child.

This was a nice story, but it didn't seem to draw me in emotionally like the other 2 in the book.

The Christmas Dove by Victoria Bylin:

Heat level: Romantic (I'd share this book with my 16 year old daughter)

As a young man, poor Dylan McCall kissed Maddie Cutler and poured out his dreams. She turned her nose up at him and his dreams and ran off with a gambler. Now she's back - with her baby. She's left her gambler and that life behind. Dylan finds her in a stable. She's hit rock bottom. He takes her to the ranch she once scorned. She seems humbled, but is she? Or is she just biding her time until her rich father takes her back?

I have a soft spot for stories about fallen women who have hit bottom and are trying to climb out - especially when it's a 'lost love' story and the hero is still waiting. (sigh) Vicki Bylin writes these types of stories with originality and depth. I was there, in her story, and I didn't want to come out. I cried during this one.

A Baby Blue Christmas by Cheryl St John:

Heat level: Romantic (I'd share this book with my 16 year old daughter)

Turner Price was an orphan who now owns the livery, serves on town council, and aches from personal loss. When he finds Gabrielle Rawlins and her twin babies in his stable, he assumes she's the mother even though she doesn't seem to have maternal instincts for the babies' needs. When she suggests putting them in a foundling home, Turner becomes angry and tells her his awful experiences as an orphan. To circumvent this, he takes the trio into his own home but makes it plain he cannot invest any personal feelings into the situation. But is that possible? He already loves the babies as his own.

This hero really touched me. He's big and strong and doesn't want to do 'the right thing' and help the strange lady with the babies, but he must because that's just the way God made him. I cried while reading this one, too. I cried for the hero. I cried for the heroine. And, I cried for their joy in finding love at last.

2008 Harlequin 100,000 Book Challenge:

Total books Read: 94 Harlequin Imprint: 89 Others: 5


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