When the Snow Falls is a quartet of Christmas novellas that I picked up at Walmart during Boxing Week. Even though Christmas is over, they are good stories and I wanted to share my thoughts about them. If you’re looking for something light to read, this is the ticket!
The first story in the book is the draw. It’s called Candy Canes and Cupid and it’s by Fern Michaels. It’s a light-hearted romance about a Florida girl transplanted to an upscale ski resort in the high mountains of Colorado for Christmas, a holiday which she resents since her birthday is Christmas Eve, and her widower father always gave her presents in Christmas paper rather than birthday wrap. She runs a PI firm, and the ski resort, owned by Max, the husband of a good friend, is being ripped off big time. Max’s wife runs a shelter for battered women and Hannah Ray owes her a favour, so here she is in the freezing cold (which she loathes) when she could be lying on the beach in front of her Fort Myers condo. While the digital theft is real, Max is playing Cupid; he has also called in his good friend Liam McConnell, the best in the information security field. Also from Florida, Liam is an unpretentious, 6-foot-something, 40-year-old who arrives at the Denver airport in his Lear jet dressed in jeans and runners with no socks and waits for Max’s limo to pick him up. The woman in the back seat is a pleasant surprise despite the fact she is obviously a bit cranky — tired, cold, & hungry. As the project progresses, Liam and Hannah are thrown together and, despite a rocky beginning, hit it off. Almost all of the employees at the resort are suspect in the theft, and it gets a bit tense while the two sleuths narrow it down. There are some interesting characters thrown into the mix and some serious luxury that doesn’t quite seem real world, but it’s a quick read romance that is fine escapism.
The second story — White Hot Christmas by Nancy Bush — is another female PI, Jane Kelly, at the other extreme of the financial scene. She has a smouldering crush on her almost-partner and mentor, Dwayne Durbin, and his “slow-talkin’, slow-walkin’ cowboy style and his blue eyes, dry wit and humor”. Set in Oregon, a white Christmas is just a week away, Dwayne has just moved their office out of his cabana and into a small building in the city, and Jane’s bank account is almost on empty. This is a first person narrative that picks up as it goes along. The beginning gives us a running dialogue between Jane and her conscience, and you wonder for a bit when the story is going to actually get started. Once it does, it’s pretty good. Lots of action and tension as Jane starts to remember why she didn’t like her new client when they were in high school together, and the person she is supposed to interview on the client’s behalf turns out to be the lady who gives her the middle finger when Jane edges her out of a parking spot at her workplace. There are several complications along the way that make it interesting and it turns out to be a quick read that ends rather well, even if it does send off some alarm bells for an upcoming episode in the life of Jane Kelly, P. I. Nancy also co-authors romance suspense novels with her sister, Lisa Jackson.
The third story is totally different from the first two except that most of it takes place at various Christmases. The main character in Seven Days of Christmas by Rosanna Chiofalo, is an Italian veterinary technician named Bianca (white) because she was born on Christmas Eve during a blizzard. It is Christmas Eve again. The time when her family celebrates the Feast of the Seven Fish and her older brothers, both architects, bring their boss home to share in the festivities so he won’t work all evening and into the night. Romance is in the air. I liked the last half of this story better than the first. What is there about a first person romance narrative that tends to come off sounding a bit narcissistic? This particular romance also required a bit more than usual of the “willing suspension of disbelief”. Part of the story was set in Innsbruck which made it kind of fun, being led through all the tourist sights and special Christmas activities. There was some fairly obvious foreshadowing as the first part was coming to an event that would bring about change, so the change wasn’t too much of a surprise. But the last part of the story, which contained a strong element of the paranormal, was much more convincing and touching, as we watched Bianca struggle to come to terms with the difficulties that had arisen. What I truly enjoyed, though, was the author’s “Dear Reader” at the end where she talked about her own experiences with the paranormal which were both interesting and believable.
The fourth story — A Smoky Mountain Gift by Lin Stepp — has to be my favourite of the quartet. It’s just a sweet romance about down-to-earth, believable characters with all their wistful memories, jealousies, and community connections that come together to make a memorable Christmas tale. In addition, there are wonderful descriptions that make the various parts of the rural community come to life — the craft co-op, the Christmas tree farm, the church, the Mimosa Inn, and the old-style Texaco station and museum. After Aunt Rita Jean dies, Veda’s antique store in Florida is heading for liquidation, and when she learns that the craft co-op founded by her aunt is falling into difficulties, she returns home to live with her Uncle Sutton and run the co-op while looking for a new, more personal venture for herself. Despite the awkwardness she feels around her old sweetheart, Reese (who had married her rival), Veda is determined to adopt a positive outlook on what she believes will be a brief stay — just long enough to get the co-op running smoothly again, and for the board to find a new manager. Veda has never quite felt like she belonged in the small Smoky Mountain community, but being half Cherokee and a first daughter, her aunt had always told her that she “[carried] the gift of hearing the wind sing if she will listen”. Perhaps, if she can hear the wind sing, she will finally know where she belongs, and have the kind of Christmas she has always longed for. I thoroughly enjoyed this one. Lin has written others that centre around this community and you can find them here on Amazon CA.
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