A Christmas to Remember Anthology by Jill Shalvis, et. al.

Release Date - December 2013

Kristen Ashley
Molly Cannon
Marilyn Pappano
Hope Ramsay
Jill Shalvis
Grand Central Publishing

Book Review by Tracy Farnsworth

A Christmas to Remember features five novellas by some of romance's most popular authors. Each novella is followed by a snippet of one of the  author's upcoming releases.

First up is Jill Shalvis's Dream a Little Dream, a story I felt was one of two standout novellas in the collection. Readers revisit  Lucky Harbor where firefighter Ian is dismayed when a call brings him to the apartment complex where Melissa, the woman he loves, is trapped. He wasn't there when his sister died, and he can't take another death. While he's able to get her out, she's severely injured and Ian fears he may not get the chance to finally tell her how much he loves her. This is a sweet story and revisiting Lucky Harbor was a treat!

Kristen Ashley's Every Year didn't appeal to me as much. I have a feeling I was missing an awful lot of backstory in this one. Tabby knows her "man" Shy and his brother Landon struggle with the holidays, so a trip to her father's home isn't a comfortable event for them. Hopefully, her father, his young wife, and their two young children will show Shy and Landon about the true joy the holiday's bring. I also got tripped up with the reference to Tyra in some places and then Ty-Ty in others, it took a bit to figure out that was the same person. Finally, it's a personal thing but I just didn't like Tabby's references to Shy as being her "man" rather than husband, lover, etc. A lot of it, I think, is that they are part of a motorcycle club, and apparently are a bit of a rougher crowd, not my thing.

Silent Night is Hope Ramsay's contribution and my favorite novella in this holiday romance anthology. Maryanne is evicted from her apartment and has no where to go for the holidays. She's hoping an older cousin she has in Last Chance might be willing to take both Maryanne and her infant son in to the old family farmhouse, even if Maryanne hasn't spoken to the cousin since she was six years old. Unfortunately, Maryanne arrives at the wrong farmhouse and isn't sure what to make of the owner, Daniel. He's harboring his own pain and Maryanne and her infant may be just what he needs to turn the holidays around.

Molly Cannon offers Have Yourself a Messy Little Christmas. Linc is an accountant whose filing system may not be the most organized. As a result, his mother hires a professional organizer to help him get the family home in shape before Linc's parents arrive for the holidays. Linc isn't fond of the idea of having someone messing with his stuff, but the sexy Dinah is enough to change his mind that maybe some changes are very, very good.

Finally, Marilyn Pappano's A Family for Christmas was my third favorite. Jared moves to a small town to become the pediatrician, despite his parents' objections. There he meets a single mom, Ilena, whose husband died in the war while she was pregnant. Ilena finds herself attracted with the pediatrician and loves how he is with her six-month-old son, but she can't enter into a relationship with a man who may not be in town for good.

The stories in this anthology are all hit or miss. Two really grabbed my heart and had me a little teary eyed at the end. Marilyn Pappano's didn't quite get to me the same way, but it was good. The other two were merely okay to me. Based on that, I think it's a worthwhile read, if you go in with the expectations that you may not be thrilled with each story.

Each author does have a chapter from an upcoming novel too. I skipped those over because I hate getting into a story and then having to wait to find out how it ends. Those chapters added a lot to the length of the novella. After cutting them out, the book only took me a little over an hour of non-stop reading to complete.


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