Home for the Holidays by Debbie Macomber is one of my favorite Christmas books and I can’t count how many times I’ve read it over the years. I first bought it in paperback from Target, but this year I downloaded the Kindle version to read. This is not a full length novel, but a book containing two Christmas novellas: The Forgetful Bride (originally published in 1991) and When Christmas Comes (originally published in 2004).
The Forgetful Bride is the story of Caitlin Marshall and Joseph Rockwell, who as kids were “married” by Cait’s brother Martin. Close to 20 years later, Joe shows up at Cait’s workplace, a brokerage firm in Seattle, where he is heading up a renovation to the building. Joe immediately recognizes Cait as the little girl he married to get her to kiss him all those years ago, but Cait doesn’t know who he is just that he keeps staring at her, making her uncomfortable (but not uncomfortable enough to say something to anyone about it). She does eventually realize who Joe is and once she does, he starts making her life miserable, namely by telling everyone and anyone that they’re married, potentially sullying her reputation with the firm. For some reason, Cait doesn’t do anything about it other than complaining to her friend Lindy–not because of the hurt to her reputation but because it could hurt her chances of getting her boss to fall in love with her. This novella is cute, but it was obviously written in a different time. Cait never once stands up for herself against Joe’s actions and in the moments when she tries to no one believes her. They give her pittying stares because Joe’s told them that she’s suffering from amnesia and fail to help her when she tells them that Joe won’t let her go. I do like the chemistry between the hero and heroine, but it doesn’t completely make up for the rest of the story. 2.5 Stars
When Christmas Comes is a much better story and is obviously written for a more modern audience, having been published in 2004. Emily Springer is a 40 year old widow living in a Santa’s Village type of town in Washington state and all she wants is to spend Christmas with her 21 year old daughter, who is in her junior year at Harvard, but Heather, her daughter, would rather spend the holiday with Elijah on the beach in Florida. Unfortunately, she doesn’t tell her mother this, so Emily ends up alone in Boston, living in a stranger’s condo for two weeks while he lives in her home. Professor Charles Brewster wants to escape Christmas, a holiday that holds sad memories for him, so he decides to spend the holiday in a quiet prison town. Too bad he forgot that the prison was in Kansas not Washington and he ended up living in a Courier and Ives portrait. Neither Charles nor Emily thought they would have a happy holiday. Enter Faith Kerrigan and Ray Brewster. Faith is Emily’s best friend and she decides to surprise Emily for Christmas, but she ends up surprising Charles instead, especially when she shows up with Santa and a cadre of elves! Ray is Charles’s brother and he shows up at the condo where Emily is staying because his mother asked him to check on his brother, who she believes may have been taken hostage by some woman. My only complaint about When Christmas Comes is that the ending comes much too quickly. This could have easily been a full length novel and if it was it would have worked even better than it did as a novella. Both couples fall for each other very fast and in ways that aren’t very realistic. Plus, Heather almost immediately realizes the mistake she has made in choosing Elijah and Florida over her mother. If given even fifty pages more, it could have been fleshed out a bit. 4 Stars