REVIEW: You Make It Feel Like Christmas by Francis Ray and Donna Hill
Rockin’ Around That Christmas Tree by Donna Hill
Denise has always been the faithful wife and dutiful mother for the twenty-plus years she’s been married to Edward. But now, she’s ready to live a few dreams of her own. When Denise drops the bomb at Thanksgiving dinner that she is leaving Edward and selling the house, everyone is stunned, and her announcement opens the door to Morrison Family Dysfunction 101. But Edward is not ready to give up on them. Not only does he plan to be back at home and in their bed, but he also knows that, come Christmas, he and Denise will be rockin’ around that Christmas tree.
This category length marriage-in-trouble book was originally published in 2004. Denise and Edward have had what Edward thinks is a perfect marriage for twenty-seven years. But when Edward won’t consider allowing Denise to follow her passion for designing and sewing clothes, Denise realizes that a lovely home, material comforts, and hot passion isn’t enough for her. She wants equality in all aspects of their marriage rather than being taken for granted by everyone.
Shocked at Denise’s chosen strategy of asking for a divorce in order to force him to reevaluate their relationship and make some changes, Edward flounders. He’s always done what he thinks a man should do – take care of everyone, pay the bills, and give his family a better life than he had growing up. Can these two work out a twenty seven year marriage worth of issues before Christmas?
If any relationship illustrates the need for communication, this one does. Denise has spoken up in the past but Edward can’t or won’t hear what she’s saying leading to her extreme plan. No, she doesn’t really hope she’ll have to go through with it but she feels she’s given in enough and for long enough that anything less won’t make Edward – and their two children who, though they love her, view mom as a laundry maid, cook, and second person to go to for advice after their father – see how serious she is.
I have to admire Denise’s determination to stand fast for what she thinks she deserves and Edward’s determination to win his wife back but wow – after that long a marriage always yielding to Edward her turn around to “I Am Woman” is swift while Edward’s “I’ve woken up and I smell the coffee” moment is equally quick. Each has people – actually mostly the same people – helping them back towards mutual understanding. I found myself enjoying the scenes with Edward’s Aunt and Uncle who aren’t shy about giving him some home truths while I was also glad to see Denise’s and Edward’s children start to shape up and respect their mother a bit more. In real life these two should probably attend some marriage counseling sessions and I would have been happier if the story ended with plans for that or at a “we’re still going to work on this” stage. B-
The Wish by Francis Ray
Be careful what you wish for. That’s the lesson brokenhearted Nicholas Darling learns when an eccentric old woman grants him a wish for true love-if he doesn’t fail to see it.
This is more a novella length story which explains a lot of the shortcuts taken to get to the HEA. In the first scene, I adored the hero Nicholas as he takes care of his brother without complaint and treats an older lady with kindness. Then the reality of the wish that she’s apparently gifted him with (somehow, though it’s not explained at all) Mrs. Augusta is a sorta of fairy godmother) hits him.
Nicholas is living in a small town with a grapevine that works overtime and soon every single woman knows that Mrs Augusta has told Nicholas that he’ll be engaged by Christmas. Nicholas soon thinks he knows what a fox feels like when it hears a hunting horn. To fend off the females he impulsively asks Mrs Augusta’s niece to enter a pretend relationship. But Nicholas isn’t interested in forever and that’s all Andrea will settle for.
Nicholas and Andrea actually have a lovely relationship, we get plenty of time watching them interacting together, and enjoying the spirit of Christmas until the last moment when Nicholas has to act like an idiot and Andrea acts like a martyr to get to the final conflict of the story. Since this is a romance it’s not going to spoil things by saying he does pull his head out of his ass in time to win his heroine but it was a disappointing way for the book to end, especially as Andrea has been writing a romance novel all along and talked at length about how kick ass her heroine is. Andrea does display the most strength of the two but I wish he hadn’t been an idiot or if he still was, that she’d been the one to bust down his door and demand what her heart wanted. C+