REVIEW: Western Christmas Proposals Anthology by Carla Kelly, Kelly Boyce and Carol Arens
A RING, A KISS AND A CHRISTMAS WISH
THREE DELICIOUS SEASONAL STORIES
CHRISTMAS DANCE WITH THE RANCHER by Carla Kelly
Stranded, Katie becomes chore girl on Ned Avery’s ranch. He shows her unexpected kindnessand in exchange, she teaches him how to dance!
A Western – yay! I always enjoy these with the hardworking, salt of the Earth people who have issues but keep on getting the job done. Ned needs a chore girl and Katie needs a job so after sizing each other up, they head from wild and tumble Cheyenne to Medicine Bow where all there is is hard work. One slightly perverse thing I like is that Ned does have his moments of grumbling which makes him more human to me but he also knows when he needs to apologize for it and does so.
The characterization is in the little things. Katie insists on finishing the church window washing she was doing even after being hired by Ned. Later he notices that she treats the LHJ magazine he impulsively buys her as a treasure all most too good to be true. He wins her total trust when he buys a doorknob with a lock and vows to section off a room she will have all to herself. Quiet, spare comments show that they’re both survivors. They both savor unexpected, simple pleasures and give more than they take. Watching them gently fall in love is a treat. B
CHRISTMAS IN SALVATION FALLS by Kelly Boyce
Willa Stanford moved to Salvation Falls to start afresh, but then the past—in the shape of her former sweetheart—arrives at her door.
Morgan Trent and Willa Barstow were once madly in love and planning to marry. Then Morgan left to escape the pressure from her crooked papa though swearing to return for her in 6 months once he’d established his law practice. He never responded to her many letters, never visited and, she thinks, never returned. Then he used the excuse of her marriage to another to throw a six year pity party and wander the west. Now he’s going to join his uncle’s law practice and finds Willa lives in the same town. So far Morgan hasn’t made a good impression on me as he continues his “none of this was my fault, you’re the one who married but I’m now ready to talk” whine-fest.
Willa, on the other hand, has survived a forced marriage to a loser, being disinherited by her asshat father, becoming a widow with almost no money to her name and then pulling herself up by her bootstraps and making a life for herself. Go Willa! Why, I wonder, would she want to take back Morgan? Especially when he still can’t see or seemingly appreciate the strong woman she’s become?
The townsfolk finally get him to see the idiot that he is but I think it’s mainly because they can see Willa still loves him and they want her to be happy. Me, I still see him as a dipshit. C-
THE SHERIFF’S CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL by Carol Arens
When widower Roy Garner falls for lovely Belle Key, he’s hoping for a very happy Christmas. Until he discovers Belle’s dark secret…
And now to the last entry in the anthology. The opening scene of this one started well with the hero’s interactions with his four children and I settled in to enjoy the story. That enjoyment didn’t last long as improbability piled on improbability to set up the plot of the heroine and her grandmother tracking said hero to recover grannie’s “treasure” from the man they think stole it. They can apparently track him down, learn what small town he’s planning on settling in, book rooms in advance in the boarding house across the street, ride the same train into town but don’t find out he has children. Really? The best stuff here is the hero and his children and his determination to be a better father. Unfortunately I had to skim through the rest to try to finish it. I think it’s going for “feel good” but it skipped straight to “too cute” and “unbelievable” for me. DNF