Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Magic Of Christmas: A Christmas Child \ The Christmas Dove \ A Baby Blue Christmas (Harlequin Historical Series) by Carolyn Davidson, Cheryl St.John, Victoria Bylin

The Magic Of Christmas: A Christmas Child \ The Christmas Dove \ A Baby Blue Christmas (Harlequin Historical Series)The Magic Of Christmas: A Christmas Child \ The Christmas Dove \ A Baby Blue Christmas by Carolyn Davidson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another late posting review.  This short story collection is great for readers who want historical western romance Christmas stories with a baby(ies) involved in the story.   

Out of the three books, Cheryl St. John's story "A Baby Blue Christmas" was definitely my favorite.  In this story, we actually get two babies, newborns, who are found in the stable owned by our hero, Turner.  The heroine is related to their mom, but she allows Turner to assume she is their mother, so she can continue to care for them. Turner is a gruff hero who has a soft heart, especially for these two abandoned babies and their so-called mother.  This story shows St. John's wonderful touch a crafting endearing 'beta' heroes that make you love them.  Turner has a reason to keep at a distance from Gabrielle because of a past loss, but he really steps up and meets their needs.  I admired Gabrielle for her loyalty to the mother of the babies, and especially the babies themselves. She stops at another to ensure that they get the best start in life.  Although the babies are a huge part of the storyline, St. John doesn't stint on providing a heartwarming romance as well.  I was very happy with this story, so I gave it 4.5 stars.

Although "A Christmas Child" wasn't a bad story, it was my least favorite. The writing didn't touch me that deeply, even though I admire Carolyn Davidson's storytelling abilities generally.  On one hand, I did like Marianne a lot.  She does rather remind me of Mary, Jesus' mother, which was probably intentional. The story set up kind of brings the original Nativity story to mind, but with a different twist.  The hero is a pastor with a kind heart, who falls pretty hard and quickly for Marianne. However, I just didn't feel a big connection to this story in the way I did with the other two, and the small-mindedness of the town inhabitants towards Marianne was irritating to me.   This one rated three stars.

"The Christmas Dove" by Victoria Bylin gives us a reunion romance between two souls who knew each other when they were young and wild, and to whom maturity brings a change of heart and a depth of character.  Dylan is a great hero.  He was once a callow hellraiser who realized he was wasting his life on carousing and playing around.  Maddie was a spoiled rich girl who deigned to play around with him, even though he was way beneath her, and she runs off with a gambler when his flash attracts her adventuresome spirit.  When his lost love, Maddie returns considerably fallen from grace as an unwed mother, he shows an incredible amount of grace to her, remembering his own past.  While she hates herself for the bad decisions she makes, he supports her and builds her up with unconditional love. In return, Maddie has learned about what has true value in her life, and she has to gain the courage to reach out to a man who shows her with true love is. This story has a deeper message that speaks to me, and ties into this season very well, that no one is truly lost and beyond hope.  The writing was eloquent and touching, and the characters were very well-developed despite the story's short length.  This one earned four stars.

Overall, this was a successful and enjoyable short story collection to read around the Christmas holiday.  Each story has an enjoyable western vibe and showcase some of the feelings and impact of the holiday.  I enjoyed it, so my overall rating stands at four stars.

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