Christmas Kisses, an anthology

>> Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Christmas Kisses did not look like the kind of anthology I'd enjoy, but it contained the only story I hadn't read in Linda Howard's Mackenzie series, Maris's story, so I decided to get it anyway. I shouldn't have bothered, there wasn't even one good story in the lot and my grade for the whole anthology is a D.

The first story was the Linda Howard one, MacKenzie's Magic.

The novella starts with a little perfunctory story about a plot to kill a horse and about how Maris and Sam fall in love, but the main point here was the horrible mammoth epilogue, showing what happens when Maris takes her new husband to meet the whole family.

Basically, the story was just an excuse to get all the Mackenzies together and have them act like cavemen. Do people really think that's cute, all those testosterone-filled brutes acting out, and being "managed" by their wives? I deeply dislike this type of relationships, it seems to me unfair both to the man and to the woman. Add to this a disgustingly precious, baby-talking little girl, and this story went from just boring to groan-worthy.

My grade: a D-.

Next came a story by new-to-me author Debbie Macomber, Silver Bells. Apparently, the heroine of this one was a teenager who did some matchmaking for her mom in a previous book and here she gets a taste of her own medicine as the teenage daughter of her new neighbour decides she wants her for a mother.

This was a boring, boring story. I simply couldn't muster any interest for it. The protagonists were cardboard and chemistry-free and the matchmaking teen was disgustingly precious. Add to that a loooong family reunion with characters I didn't know and the demonization of the hero's Evil Career Ho e-wife, and this one was a D-.

The last story, A Wild West Christmas, by another new-to-me author, Linda Turner, was the best of the lot (which isn't saying much).

Ten years before the start of the story, when she was 17, Priscilla Rawlings had a hot and heavy summer romance with her cousins' cousin Wyatt Chandler. When he realized she was beginning to look at him with marriage on her mind, he decided to break it off, and the best way he could find to do this was to arrange for her to find him kissing another woman. Fast-forward to the present, and both meet again at their mutual cousins' ranch, and realize they're still attracted to each other.

I didn't like this one at all, but at least it didn't put me to sleep. I found both characters pretty stupid, and I felt I'd read their story thousands of times already. I detested the very contrived subplot about the woman who's obsessed with Wyatt and who makes him take refuge from her at the ranch. The catching up with characters from previous books was less than in the other stories, but still way too much for me. My grade: D+.

As far as I'm concerned, the only reason to buy this book is if you're a HUGE fan of the Mackenzie, Manning and Rawlings families and would read anything where they show up. I'm not a rabid Mackenzie fan (though I did like most of the books in the series) and I'd never heard of the Mannings and Rawlingses before, so for me, it was all a complete waste of time.


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