A New Tradition by Leanne Burroughs (score 3.5): Abigail Sommers is helping out a friend, while on vacation with her mother and father in Saratoga Springs, NY. She is filling in as a waiter in one of the resorts hotel restaurants. She’s also trying to keep her identity secret under a top hat. The year is 1853 and women didn’t work as waiters. Morgan Leighton is visiting a friend in Saratoga Springs trying to decide if he wants to continue being a lawyer or not. Unfortunately for Abigail, he sees through her disguise and is immediately intrigued.
Amidst the invention of the potato chip and the women’s suffrage movement is this delightful tale of two people coming to grips with their own feelings as well as many of the changes coming for the country and the people who live in it. Attitudes are challenged and conventions questioned. Love blossoms and is tested.
I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable read that will have you thanking your lucky stars that you live in this era.
The Snowflake Ball by Amy Blizzard (score 3.5): Chloe Miller is a doctor at Indianapolis Medical who lost her Christmas spirit when she lost her older brother in a car accident. Woody Larson is a fireman who is in the ER because he cut his hand in the firehouse kitchen. Chloe stitches him up, and Woody vows to try to stitch up her Christmas spirit. When Chloe is roped into playing Mrs. Claus for the pediatric inpatients she’s not really happy about it. She’s even less happy about it when the other doctor who is supposed to play Santa suddenly becomes ill. Woody showing up and volunteering to play Santa is a blessing in disguise. In return Chloe agrees to go to the fireman’s annual Snowflake Ball with him.
This is a lovely and heart wrenching tale about remembering to cherish the good memories of those we lose rather than to focus on the loss. Chloe and Woody balance each other out well and will have you rooting for them all the way.
Entertaining Angels by Patty Howell (score 2.75): Gwen Margate is stuck at work waiting on Danson, the man she’s been dating for the past several months, to show up and give her a ride home from work. When a mysterious stranger shows up knowing her name, her date’s name, and says he’s there to take her home, Gwen is rightfully worried and suspicious. Branson Adams is said stranger, and he’s the brother of the man Gwen has been dating for the past several months. He’s also an FBI agent and Danson is in the Witness Protection Program.
Chloe and Branson feel an attraction and a connection and are presented with a challenge in the form of a 5 year old homeless child whose homeless father hasn’t been seen in several days.
The main premise of this story is a good one. The problem I had with it was the “faith” aspect of it. I won’t get into where Christmas traditions actually came from or when Christ was actually born, but suffice it to say I don’t follow the “Christian” versions of them. I do, however, fully respect everyone’s right to their own beliefs and their own faiths, no matter WHAT those beliefs might be.
The problem I had with this work was that instead of conveying the characters having a strong faith and convictions in their beliefs, it came off as preachy, condescending and judgmental. They see the world as amoral and lacking compassion. For me, that seriously turned me off and made me want to rip those pages out of the book so I could continue to enjoy it. Maybe my own beliefs and my own faith in humanity overshadowed the message the author was trying to convey, then again, maybe not.
Chance for a Merry Christmas by Judith Leigh (score 3.5): We’re once again visiting Mistletoe, Tennessee in this tale. In this one we meet Sue Johnson, who has recently lost her mother. We also meet Chance McCray, native of Mistletoe and recently returned from Iraq due to an injury to his shoulder. When these two meet there is a definite attraction. But Sue isn’t sure she’s ready to take a chance on a military man and the life and dangers that come with that job. Chance loves Sue and wants to marry her, but he’s also committed to the military and has no plans to leave it.
I’m a military wife so I fully understand Sue’s worries and hesitancy, especially right on the heels of losing her mother to illness. But what Ms. Leigh reminds us with the wonderful tale is that we’re never guaranteed a tomorrow, regardless of occupation. She reminds us that it’s best to take what we’re given for as long as we’re given it, and cherish it.
We also see that once again Mistletoe, Tennessee lives up to its slogan, where magic and dreams really do come true.
A Christmas Flame by Amber Dawn Bell (score 3.5): Since the death of her husband and infant daughter 3 years ago, Angel McKenzie has become more and more isolated in her apartment; unable to get past the grief and the guilt over the Christmas Eve fire that caused their deaths. Jacob Campbell is the fireman/EMT who broke the news to Angel that they were unable to save her family, and he has never forgotten it; or been able to let go of his own guilt over not being able to save them. But Jacob has another guilt he can’t let go of, the death of his sister in a fire when he was 12. A fire he apparently accidentally started (although the exact details are never revealed). Can these two hurting aching souls heal each other?
Ms. Bell reminds us that there is live after loss, and it encompasses much more than simply being alive. She addresses the issues of guilt and self-blame and simply getting through the grief process. She also reminds us that simply existing isn’t living and that those we lost, if they truly loved us in life, would never want us to isolate ourselves from everything and everyone. They would never want us to live in a cold, beige world, without color or laughter or love. Not if they truly loved us.