Spotlight Review:

A TEXAS CHRISTMAS – Jodi Thomas, Linda Broday, Phyllis Miranda, DeWanna Pace Zebra
ISBN: 978-1-4201-7966-4
October 2011
Historical Romance Anthology

All four novellas take place in and around the Texas Panhandle town of Kasota Springs in the days leading up to the Christmas of 1887.

One Wish: A Christmas Story – Jodi Thomas
The Thompsons rarely come to town. They keep to themselves out by Palo Duro Canyon . Sam Thompson was once the exception; he managed the daily four miles to and from school long enough to finish third grade and is the only Thompson who reads. Sam even had a friend for the first year, little Margaret Allison, who was also a loner. Not because of distance—her parents owned the town mercantile—but because she was a prim, bossy little thing. After her first year at the town school, however, her parents sent her back east to school. Now the elder Allisons are gone, and Maggie is back and running the store. On one of his rare visits to town, Sam overhears some outlaws planning to rob Maggie…and worse.

In a sweet and tender story, Sam and Maggie find each other again, but before the tale is told, their lives—and Sam's secret—are in danger in the midst of an oncoming storm.

Naughty or Nice – DeWanna Pace
Bostonian James Elliott III roams Texas in search of the rare pink bluebonnet flower. So intent on his mission is he, he wanders away from the lone tree to which he tethered his horse. He suddenly becomes aware of the cold and blowing snow and reduced visibility, and hopes he's headed in the right direction as he sets out to find his horse.

Anna Ross heads home to Kasota after picking up a wagon load of whiskey for her saloon. She and her little one-eyed dog, Jack, are snuggling to keep warm when Jack, with a frantic bark, jumps off the wagon to plow through the snow. Anna can only go after him. In this way, Anna and Jack save the life of an Eastern greenhorn. The trek through the worsening blizzard is an arduous one, but easy banter—helped by the warming whiskey—fosters a sort of closeness between Anna and Trey, as she calls him. They eventually see the lights of the Hentons' place, where a pre-Christmas party is being held. The Hentons are friends of Anna's, but she knows not all of their guests would welcome her, but they have no choice. They are stuck at the party until the weather abates.

Hardships can either bring out the best or the worst in people. Naughty or Nice shows it can also work for the betterment in the inspiring conclusion.

The Christmas Bell – Linda Broday
There are some in Kasota who think that, because she's the banker's daughter who has turned down more than one suitor, Tess Whitgrove must be a snob. Few know what she has done for the town. Now, however, she wishes to prove herself by bringing home the new church bell the whole town raised money to have cast back east. But the train is blocked by huge drifts across the tracks.

Reclusive rancher Sloan Sullivan goes out of his way to avoid Tess Whitgrove whenever he has to go to town. Even were he aware how intriguing she finds him, he would do nothing. Didn't his mother always warn him against mixing with the upper class? But when he sees from his ranch that the train is marooned, he cannot ignore the passengers and crew. Sloan loads up a horse-drawn sled with food, blankets and firewood. He finds a mixed bag of people including four little orphans, escorted by an unpleasant woman; a sick man, an expectant mother near term, and an angel of mercy tending all those in need…the woman who haunts his dreams.

Once again, we are graced with a heart-warming holiday tale of finding love in seemingly unlikely places.

Away in the Manger – Phyllis Miranda
In this tale, our hero looks only for a peaceful and quiet Christmas, the anniversary of a tragic day in his life. But once again, one of the worst storms in the Texas Panhandle's history blows in a surprise. Blacksmith Randall Humphrey is a big bear of a man. Sarah Callahan is a young woman with three-year-old twins—a boy and a girl—in tow. Little Addie Clair calls him Mr. Grumpy, but in no time at all, the stranded threesome discover a kind heart under the gruff exterior.

Away in the Manger is a fun treat that nicely winds up this collection of four highly enjoyable holiday stories. The novellas stand alone, but are connected by the setting and the perils of the storm. They all manage to deliver delightful, well-developed main characters along with a few not so nice ones. While the plots involve various threads of suspense, the character interactions hold center stage.

I highly recommend A TEXAS CHRISTMAS for your holiday reading pleasure.

Jane Bowers


Kathleen O said…
It is the one book I have yet to get for my holiday collection of reading.... But I will have it soon...

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