Bettina Krahn, Jacquie D'Allessandro and Hope Tarr
November 2010, Historical Romance
Harlequin, $7.99, 313 pages, Amazon ASIN 0373837429
My annual Christmas anthology orgy continues with A Harlequin Christmas Carol. The premise of this one is that three guardian angels need to help their charges find true love during the Christmas season, or they will remain wing-less apprentice angels for another hundred years. Their charges all belong to the same book club, which conveniently has just read Dickensí A Christmas Carol. The angels present themselves as the angels of the past, present and future, and romance ensues.
European Historical Romance (1890 England)
Bettina Krahnís story, Yesterdayís Bride, is the Christmas Past portion. Angel periwinkle must help Claire Halliday find her true love. Claireís fiance died during Christmas time, and she continues to live with his family in a state of limbo; sheís not really a widow, not really an ingenue, and not exactly part of the family. The entire family is mired in the past, and canít quite put Stephenís death behind them. Things change when Stephenís cousin Ralph returns from a long stint in India. The family immediately starts pushing Rafe and Claire together, a move Claire resists, until she realizes that Rafe is not the boring old stick she always thought he was.
This is a cute story with likable characters. Angel Periwinkle pushes things along, locking Claire and Rafe in an attic together to give them some alone time. But though itís cute and light, there isnít really much to it. On the other hand, thereís not much to object to either.
Christmas Present is covered by Jacquie DíAllessandro in Todayís Longing. Angel Rose has her work cut out for her: Addie announces at book club that she will leave to study art in France right after the holidays. She feels itís her only way out of a life of misery, watching her sister Grace marry Sebastian, the man she loves. Sebastian is every bit as miserable, because everyone expects him to marry Grace, when he really loves Addie. Conveniently, Grace is secretly in love with Sebastianís brother Evan, who everyone expects to marry Addie. Can this love quadrangle resolve itself before everyone marries the wrong person?
I am predisposed to like love triangles and even quadrangles, so I enjoyed all the longing up to a point. Unfortunately, everyoneís willful determination to misunderstand everyone else eventually becomes too much. By the end I just wanted them to quit beating around the bush and sit down for a revealing group chat so we could all move on.
Hope Tarr does the future in Tomorrowís Destiny. Angel Fern shows Fiona just how bleak her life will be twenty-five years from now if she fails to claim her true love, Tobias. Fiona is the proprietress of the book shop in which the club meets. Sheís just lost her father, and Tobias is the man who has purchased the shop and its contents. Heís actually after one particular book, an old translation of a treatise by Aristotle that he believes will cure his unusual medical condition. He has very pale skin, hair, and eyes, and finds contact with the sunlight excruciating. When he sees Fiona for the first time, he recognizes her as his soul mate - he has seen her in a dream. But even if she loves him back, can he doom her to a life with a man who canít be out in the sun?
This was my favorite of the three stories. I particularly liked Fiona, who is practical and funny. And though her possible future self is a mean old crank, I found that part funny as well. This is the sexiest story of the lot, and the love scene was well written and fit with the story. I did find myself wondering how exactly Fionaís magic hoo-ha cured Tobias, but then this isnít exactly hyper-realism. Itís a book with angels that spew glitter everywhere.
If youíre a Christmas anthology fan, this is a fun one to pick up. Itís not the most brilliant one ever written, but none of the stories are duds either. Itís the sort of fun book you can enjoy in between trimming the tree and wrapping presents
-- Blythe Barnhill
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