Boy was I glad that I found this book at a thrift store for $1, otherwise I would have been very dissapointed.
1st story: Fern Michaels - A Bright Red Ribbon: Alone in her car, a weary traveler becomes lost in a blizzard. But a dog wearing a scarlet ribbon will lead Morgan Ames to a safe haven...and into the arms of a most unlikely hero.
How did Fern Michaels get to be so famous? Sorry to all the fans of hers out there, but I think her writing stinks! This book reads like something I would have written when I was 14. I never even got more than ten pages into before I skipped to next story. I mean, a woman barges into a man's house, through a doggie door of all things, and he goes into a twenty line speech, (saying "Sorry I wasn't here to welcome you" - what? He's never even seen her before!) and at the end, he's already telling her that he has a warm robe in the spare bedroom where she can stay. Huh? Completely unrealistic. He's never even seen her before, and he's already going into details like the fact that he's got a robe for her. I mean, where's the, "Oh my gosh, as you all right? Where did you come from?" Nope, he just starts talking her head off. I read one other of Fern Michaels novellas, and also thought that it could have been written by a teenager. I understand that writers take creative liscence, but a story needs a semblance of realism. No stars if I could - one begrudgingly.
2nd Story: Kat Martin - Christmas Angel: Despite having been on opposite sides of the war, Yankee doctor Josh Coltrane is unprepared for the continued bitterness of long-lost love Angel Summers. Can these two former sweethearts learn to forgive and forget the past?
I had high hopes for this one. It has so many elements that I love: it's historical, a civil war story, and reunited lovers. But then I got to the part when some straggling Confederate soldiers try to rape Angel. Josh of course shows up with a gun and saves her. And what does Angel do? She begs him to let her attackers go, because "the war made them this way". Again, completely unrealistic. I guess the author was just trying to show how understanding and kind she was, but I just didn't buy it. No decent man will rape a woman, no matter what he's been through. They deserved to go to jail for what they did, but they didn't. That disgusted me so much that I again skipped to the next story. Two stars, since it started off well.
3rd Story: Jo Beverly - Twelfth Night: Lady Alice Conyngham was jilted exactly six years ago. Now, at this year's Christmas festival, she must face the scandal of years past and the gentleman to whom she'd given her heart.
One of the better stories in this anthology, and the most "Christmassy" one. While it's not one I would bother re-reading, it was entertaining. I liked reading about the old traditions, especially the game "snapdragon". Four stars.
4th Story: Katherine Sutcliffe - Home for Christmas: Virginia Valemere is barely handing on to her prized horses. Her father's desperate need for medical attention may tip her over the edge. Virginia's enigmatic new neighbor Dr. Neil Ellison could wind up being her hope for salvation, or her ruin.
Another so-so story which was not quite as good as the last. Good for one read, but not to re-read. Had the "small-town" thing going for it, which was quite pleasant. Three stars.
5th Story: Brenda Joyce - The Miracle: In a remote castle on a windswept island, an American beauty challenges a wild Irish nobleman...and finds that after innocence, passion comes -- and a very special Christmas gift.
Not a very "Christmassy" story, but the best one of the bunch. This story is written about two minor characters, Lisa Ralston and Julian St. Clare who appeared in "After Innocence". You do not have to read that story first (I haven't), this story stands very well by itself. Wow! No one can write romantic tension like Brenda Joyce! This was the first of her stories that I read, but it certainly won't be the last. This story was already printed in "A Gift of Joy", so if you own that already, this is a reissue of that same story. Five stars.