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4.0 out of 5 stars A Christmas Gift, 21 Dec 2011
By 
C. Manning (London, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: A Gift to Last: Can This Be Christmas?\Shirley, Goodness and Mercy (Mass Market Paperback)
This book combines two stories from Debbie Macomber: a stand alone focused on a group of stranded travellers and the fourth story in her Angels series (after A Season of Angels, The Trouble with Angels and Touched by Angels).

***Can This Be Christmas?***

A mismatched group of travellers have ended up on a packed train to Boston on Christmas Eve. Submariner Len is determined to get back to Texas to propose to his long-term girlfriend, recently widowed Cathy is heading to her daughter's for her first Christmas without her husband, salesman Matt is heading back to his family...if they're still waiting and Kelly and Nick are taking their baby daughter home. But when the train becomes stranded at a small New Hampshire station, the travellers must band together to recapture the true meaning of Christmas.

This is a cute story and is apparently inspired by an experience of the author's parents. I love snowbound settings so I was excited to read this. The whole story takes place over the course of two days as the travellers are stranded in a small town and opt to stay in the train depot so they won't miss the train leaving. The story is well written with a clever plot, but there are a lot of characters introduced very quickly so I found it a little hard to keep track. This is also a very short story (only 100 pages or so) so it's a very quick read. It is a great story for showing how the Christmas spirit can be captured by anyone regardless of circumstance if only they try.

Plot: 8/10; Characters: 8/10; Ending: 8/10; Enjoyment: 8/10

***Shirley, Goodness and Mercy***

The irrepressible angels are back in the role of prayer ambassadors again. This time the case is so dire all three have been assigned to work together. Greg Bennett hates Christmas. Mid-way through a divorce, friendless and on the brink of losing the vineyard he's spent 50 years building he has no time for sentimentality or the Christmas spirit. But Shirley, Goodness and Mercy are determined to help him recapture the joy of the season and fix his life.

I've really enjoyed the previous angel stories and was a little surprised to realise that the three angels would only have one prayer to answer. The previous books have dealt with three cases, but this is significantly shorter so I can understand the single focus. While I enjoyed the story it wasn't on par with the previous installments. Greg's backstory is presented briefly and ended up being info-dumped on the reader. I found his brother's attitude was incredibly annoying and stuck up. Shirley, Goodness and Mercy also don't get up to as many antics as usual which I really missed. I did like the ending as, while some parts were predictable, one aspect was unexpectedly realistic.

Plot: 8/10; Characters: 8/10; Ending: 8/10; Enjoyment: 7/10

*********************************************************************************************************

All in all, this is a quick and easy read that's great for the Christmas season.

Average plot: 8/10
Average characters: 8/10
Average ending: 8/10
Average enjoyment: 7.5/10
Cover: 8/10

Overall: 39.5/50
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1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 17 Oct 2010
By 
Mrs. Mary Ann Stack (Ireland) - See all my reviews
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With so much doom and gloom it is great to lift a book that will have you smiling
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A Gift to Last: Can This Be Christmas?\Shirley, Goodness and Mercy
A Gift to Last: Can This Be Christmas?\Shirley, Goodness and Mercy by Debbie, Cathy Macomber (Mass Market Paperback - Nov 2002)
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