A Very Merry Christmas
by Lori Foster, Gemma Bruce
and Janice Maynard
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Kensington (October 1, 2007)
By Jessica Stewart, Courier Editor-in-Chief
A Very Merry Christmas is a small collection of short Christmas romances by three different authors: "Do You Hear What I Hear" by Lori Foster, "Bah Humbug, Baby" by Gemma Bruce and "By Firelight" by Janice Maynard. I enjoyed them all thoroughly, and they definitely got me into the Christmas spirit. Who needs wistful thoughts of mistletoe when you can read steamy holiday stories like these?
"Do You Hear What I Hear" is one of my favorite holiday stories, and not just because it shares the title of one of my favorite Christmas tunes. Marci Churchill is an animal psychic—she understands what animals are trying to tell the dim-witted two-leggers that just can’t seem to grasp their language. Marci has devoted her life to helping these animals, albeit anonymously. So, when she happens upon a kidnapped donkey in a local nativity scene, she brings him back to her apartment so that she can figure out how to get him back home.
Sergeant Osbourne Decker is attracted to Marci, but when he finds out about her gift, he backs off. He had a bad experience with a mentally unstable ex, and he refuses to set himself up for the same thing with Marci. Unfortunately, he has to keep an eye on her because she claims that she is being stalked and her brother-in-law, Osbourne’s superior, is worried for her safety. When Osbourne hears about a donkey being stolen from a local nativity scene, he knows exactly where to go looking for it, and heads to Marci’s to convince her to return the donkey before she gets into more trouble.
The characters in this story are loveable and realistic, the plot is nice and simple, and the Christmas spirit runs rampant throughout. It ended far too soon, and I find myself going back to it when I get the craving for a good romance, no matter the time of the year.
"Bah Humbug, Baby" was also pretty good. Allison Newberry and Lee Simonson had a bitter break up, so the last thing they want to do is spend Christmas with each other. Unfortunately, thanks to scheming family members and a blizzard, though, they are stuck in a rustic ski resort for a while. They are still attracted to each other, and very much in love, but the issues that tore them apart before are still there, and neither of them believe that they can work through them this time, either.
Nevertheless, they find each other irresistible, and, surrounded by cold weather and Christmas cheer, they cannot help but warm each other up in not-so-innocent ways. Then, tragedy strikes, threatening to tear them apart forever, and suddenly the issues that seemed so large before become miniscule.
One cannot help but to root for the success of this couple, despite their many problems. The rustic atmosphere is the perfect setting for this love story, adding a romantic touch to such a bitter situation. I love the plot twist at the end, which reminds the reader how magical this time of the year is.
"By Firelight" was an interesting, if unrealistic, read. Madison Tierney gets stuck in a blizzard while hiking in the mountains. When she see a light off in the distance, she heads towards it, determined to live. A bit cliché, but it works for this story. Maddy ends up falling for Grant Monroe, literally and figuratively, when he opens his door for her. He quickly warms her up, first with a fire and then with his kisses.
Grant normally only uses his cabin during the summer, but he needs time to think about the direction of his life without the distractions of his family. When Maddy falls into his arms, it appears to be a sign from above, the best Christmas present he has ever gotten from good ol’ Santa. It’s love at first sight for Maddy and Grant, but, in a surprise twist, Grant is able to accept it while Maddy, believing it to be too good to be true, refuses to. Grant finds himself forced to persuade Maddy to believe in the magic between them because this is one gift he refuses to return.
The characters are realistic and have more layers than a snow-covered Christmas tree, and the isolated cabin provides the perfect setting for their romance. Unfortunately, the situation, while romantic, is just a little too unrealistic. It was an enjoyable read, but is my least favorite of the three.
I definitely recommend this book, especially to those romantic hearts looking for a good holiday read to snuggle up next to the fire with.