Thursday, August 12, 2010
White Christmas in August
I found a new way to cope with the worst heat wave within my memory. It’s still more than four months until Christmas, but I’m already reading Christmas books. In addition to giving me an early infusion of the holiday spirit, the books allow me to read about snow falling and people wearing sweaters and coats. For a few hours I inhabit a winter world, and in a Georgia August with the heat index regularly hitting 100 and beyond, that’s not a bad place to be.
I started reading Debbie Macomber’s Christmas books back in 1993 with A Season of Angels, the earliest adventures of Shirley, Goodness, and Mercy. I haven’t missed a Macomber Christmas book since. In fact, I often reread several during my Christmas reading ritual. But the angelic trio remains my favorite, so I was happy when they earned a mention in Macomber’s 2010 Christmas book.
Call Me Mrs. Miracle, due for a September 28 release, is a sequel to Mrs. Miracle (2005), and it is the same kind of sweet, feel-good story as its predecessor. This second book is Macomber’s take on The Miracle on 34th Street with Mrs. Miracle taking over Santa Claus’s role. It’s appropriate that Mrs. Miracle’s new mission takes her to New York City and Finley’s, the last of the Big Apple’s family-owned department stores. Although Christmas is crucial to the success of Finley’s, Jake Finley, heir to the chain of stores that bears the family name, and his grumpy father haven’t personally celebrated the holiday for many years, not since Jake’s mother and sister were killed in an accident one Christmas Eve.
Holly Larson has her own concerns about Christmas. With her parents working as medical volunteers in Haiti and her widowed brother Mickey in Afghanistan with his National Guard unit, she is the legal guardian of her young nephew Gabe, whose heart’s desire is the electronic toy Jake Finley has predicted will be the hottest toy of the season. Money is tight, and Holly worries that Santa may not deliver on Gabe’s request.
Enter Emily Merkle, better known as Mrs. Miracle. This time she’s a seasonal employee in the toy department at Finley’s rather than a housekeeper, but her uncanny knowledge of people's hearts and history and her matchmaking ways are still very much a part of the story. She gently nudges Jake and Holly and the other characters toward a happy ending that sees wounds from the past healed, lovers united, and a child’s dearest wishes granted.
I highly recommend this book for Debbie Macomber fans or for anyone who has a soft spot for sweet Christmas stories with an angelic accent. These same people will probably enjoy the Hallmark movie of Call Me Mrs. Miracle with Doris Roberts returning in the title role. It premieres in late November. I’ll be watching.
I haven’t been reading Sherryl Woods as long as I’ve been reading Debbie Macomber, But I have followed her to Charleston, the Rose Cottage at Chesapeake Bay, Serenity, and, more recently, Chesapeake Shores. I was delighted when I learned that she was writing a Christmas book about the O’Brien family.
A Chesapeake Shores Christmas , another September 28 release, is the fourth installment in Woods’s popular series of novels set in Chesapeake Shores, the Maryland town built by Mick O’Brien. While this story of Mick and Megan O’Brien finally working through all the obstacles to their remarriage can be read as a stand-alone, readers who have followed the series will take special delight in seeing Mick and Megan achieve their happiness together amid the bonds and brawls of the boisterous O’Briens.
Abby and Trace along with the twins Carrie and Caitlin (The Inn at Eagle Point), a pregnant Bree and Jake (Flowers on Main), and Kevin and Shanna with their blended family (Harbor Lights) make appearances. Second son Connor’s continued resentment of his mother and the complications in his own life are key parts of Mick and Megan’s story, and Jess, the youngest O’Brien, joins in the family plots and parties too. A Chesapeake Shores Christmas is a story of forgiveness and reconciliation and a hard-won happily ever after that is all the sweeter for being redeemed from what threatened to be a most unhappy ending to a love story. Even an occasional cynic may like something sweet at Christmas, and fans of small-town, family-centered books will be pleased with this addition to the subgenre.
Those who read and enjoyed the other O’Brien books will be happy to know that three more Chesapeake Shores books will be released in 2011: Driftwood Cottage (Connor’s story) in April, Moonlight Cove (Jess’s story) in May, and Beach Lane (cousin Susie’s story) in June.
Sometimes I want to read a romance with a sizzle factor, but I’m glad sweet romances are still around. Sometimes they are just the thing to appeal to this reader’s palate. Do you read sweet romances? Do you, like me, have a special affection for Christmas romances? What advice do you have for fighting the literal heat wave many of us in the U. S. are struggling with?
My thanks to Harlequin, publisher of both these books, and to NetGalley for providing me with free electronic advanced reading copies.