Thought I'd really enjoy this anthology of Christmas stories, but was sadly disappointed. The first story, Santa Unwrapped (Theresa Alan) had the potential to be a great, enlightening book, about a woman not afraid to have a relationship with a so-called 'disaabled' man in a wheelchair. But I don't feel it dealt enough with the issues that such a relationship might face: obstacles both physical and psychological. How would such an outdoorsy woman adapt to a life in which her guy's participation in such activities is strictly limited? What will that be like three or five or ten years from now? Also, the story didn't have an ending, it just... stopped. Ryan came over to Aimee's house to explain his 'break-up' with her, and next thing you know the two of them are breathing heavily and headed to the bedroom. Yeah, right, we all know that sex fixes everything. And that's the end of the story. One quick paragraph in which Aimee supposedly wrestles with and conquers life's metaphysical questions, and off they go to sex-land, and end of story. And by the way, the 'teaser' for Theresa Alan's next book was based on such a weak, lame premise, it pretty well assured me that I won't look for her upcoming works anytime soon.
The 2nd novel, Maybe this Christmas, showed more promise and ingenuity. Laura's life was in the pits (literally) and she was at death's door, when an encounter with 'Grace' gives her a second chance to go back and fix the mistake that caused her life to take such a horrible turn. Laura manages to deal with the changes surprisingly well but Grace pulls another fast one on her at the end. My beef with this story is that there isn't as much follow-up as I'd like. What is the medical problem that Laura has, and what is her prognosis? And I would have liked more detail about her family. LIke the first book, this one ended too soon.. I would have liked to see another page or so to fill in the blanks.
I think I enjoyed "The 24 Days of Christmas" most of all, altho that still isn't saying much. There were too many questions and details not imparted to the reader, such as about the 'scandal' that ruined Addie's career in LA, and why she chose to go back to her tiny, rural hometown that offered so few opportunities rather than start elsewhere in another larger city. And I have a hard time believing that a father can be so uncaring about his own son as Toby is. (Yes, I know it happens in real life, but that doens't mean I want to read about it. It's just a convenient device to get her an instant child.) Also, I was sure the scrooge-like MIss Pidgett would have a scrooge-like transformation, but that didn't happen. Once again, I thought this story ended just a little too conveniently, with a vague reference to Addie starting a new career as a romance writer (yeah, we all know how easy THAT is to do) and no worries in the world.
Now for the last story, Bright Red Ribbon (Fern Michaels). Let me say that this was the most disappointing of all. Firstly, I too, like another reviewer, was struck by how stupid and unrealistic Morgan is, expecting her erstwhile fiance, who dumped her and hasn't contacted her in two years and has been dating other people, to think he's magically going to appear on Christmas Eve and ask her to marry him. (And who would want to be married to THAT piece of work??) But as Morgan started to drive to her home, and got stuck in a blizzard, I thought "Oh no, not another 'stuck-together-in-a-blizzard' story. I've read a few of them before so it's not exactly unique." Well come to find out that not only have I read stories like this before, but I've read THIS story before. I can't believe this story was recylcled from another anthology. That's just plain low on the part of the publisher. I didn't even bother finishing reading it. Seems to me I wasn't all that impressed the first time around.