An old Christmas book review

Just a quick post as I have writing and house chores to do today (and Christmas cards, and making up Christmas lists. But I’ve got another book review up: Debbie Macomber’s Small Town Christmas.*

smalltownchristmaspbThough it doesn’t feel like it, here in Tampa, the calendar can’t be denied: The Christmas season is upon us. So, when I was in a local store, recently, perusing some novels, I ran acrossSmall Town Christmas by sometimes-Florida resident Debbie Macomber, I purchased it, thinking it’d be a perfect giftie—for a certain someone. 😉 Other than Those Christmas Angels,Small Town Christmas is one of the most recent Macomber books I’ve read. If you’re a Macomber fan, and haven’t gotten this one yet Small Town Christmas is a collection including two of her backlist books: “Return to Promise” and “Mail-Order Bride”.

The first story, “Return to Promise” concerns two characters from Macomber’s Heart of Texas series: Jane (a.k.a. Dr. Texas) and her new hubby Cal Patterson. And it seems they’re not happy with each other, right out of the gate, as Cal fails to tell Jane he’s signed up for a bull riding competition, which doesn’t leave Jane happy at all, worried for his safety as only an irrational doctor could be. Matters aren’t helped when she spots him talking to a pretty blonde, and now she’s worried about the health of her marriage, and not so much her husband’s health—who Jane seems determined to behead. If that weren’t stress enough, she soon gets a call that has her flying back to California to tend her ill father. And things get worse from there: the mysterious woman sets her sights on Cal, determined to make him leave his wife, for her. And no matter how Cal rebuffs her, the town busybodies are convinced he’s just about to drag her off to bed. And of course the rumor gets back to Jane, and that’s when the real trouble begins.

In the second story in this collection, “Mail-Order Bride”, Caroline’s busybody, drunkard (somewhat insane?) old maid aunts decide she’s suffered over her ex, Larry, long enough. So what do they do? They answer an ad for a mail-order bride, in Caroline’s name, and send her off, to Alaska, no less, under the auspices of a “relaxing vacation”—complete with a bottle of their grandfather’s special brew. Poor Caroline arrives in Gold River, drunk as a skunk, and has no idea the welcoming party is actually her wedding to a rough and tumble man—who makes Grizzly Adams look like a refined gentleman. So she’s in for a great surprise when her alcoholic stupor wears off.

While I enjoyed Small Town Christmas, to a point, and look forward to reading more of her work, I can’t say this one’s made me a rabid fan. I wanted to adore the stories in this collection, as much as others seem to, but honestly? I ended “Return to Promise” wanting to strangle both Cal and Jane, and as for “Mail-Order Bride”, while it finally grew on me . . . I really felt sorry for poor Caroline. I have no doubts these novellas are both supposed to speak to the power of true love—in Cal and Jane’s case, I can believe that. In Caroline and Paul’s? Mmm…Not so much. Their story was farcical I suppose but . . . shall we say (and I really hate to say this), far-fetched? Some of it even made me a bit uncomfortable. I think it may have worked better had it been set in another century, rather than modern day.

That said, the landscapes are lovely, though the Christmas theme is tenuous at best; but in the end, I can say the feel of the tales are interesting, and the stories were page-turners; and for that I can recommend them—just with a caveat that personally, I think the new Macomber reader might be thrown for a bit of a loop with this title.

*Got this one at a local bookstore too.

Of course you can find this title, I think, at any local Borders or Barnes and Noble, or Amazon, if you like.


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