This Christmas-themed book is a collection of three interrelated stories centered on Allison Brennan’s Kincaid family and their quest to get home for Christmas. While there are three separate stories to this novel, I would hesitate to call it an anthology and more of a novel in three parts. The time frames and characters overlap and the final story contains all of the Kincaid family who were able to make it home. The stories were slightly uneven in plot and execution with the first story being the weakest link, but overall this is an enjoyable holiday read.
Story number one is supposed to be Patrick Kincaid’s story. Instead it ends up being Elle Santana’s story and she is just not as compelling a character as Patrick. While Patrick is en route to San Diego for the holidays, he gets a phone call from his mother asking him to check up on their neighbor’s grown daughter, Elle. Elle’s mother has been calling her for days and has been unable to reach her and is naturally worried. Elle was Patrick’s neighbor growing up and she was always in trouble as a child. When Patrick finally locates her, she is in trouble once more. Now an attorney in San Francisco, Elle has vouched for one of her pro bono clients and the teen girl is now missing and most likely in danger. With Child Protective Services on her heels, Elle is racing against the clock to find the child before she is taken back into custody. The entire story has Elle running headfirst into danger and Patrick coming to her rescue. Elle is not even very appreciative of his efforts. For the life of me, I could not see what could possibly attract Patrick to this woman. Patrick’s backstory is such a compelling one and I felt Brennan glossed over his past for the most part and focused too much on Elle. This story was a little disjointed compared to the final two stories.
The next part in the trilogy is Lucy and Dillon Kincaid’s Christmas adventure. Lucy and her boyfriend Sean Rogan and Dillon and his wife Kate Donovan are stranded in a resort hotel in Denver. While at the hotel, a maid discovers a room drenched in what appears to be blood, but there is no body to be found. Pretty soon the foursome is engaged in a murder investigation that is the literary equivalent of “Clue.” Who was murdered in what room with what weapon and where is the body? This short story was much more engaging though the plot was more concerned with the mystery than the relationships of both couples. The story was very well paced and plotted with points only taken off for the too-tidy resolution.
The final story in the anthology concerns Carina Kincaid Thomas and her husband Nick. After several miscarriages, Carina is now 15 weeks pregnant and past the precarious first trimester. She and Nick are planning on telling their family about the baby at Christmas. Then Carina’s father has a heart attack and is rushed to the hospital. When Carina walks out of her father’s room to go outside for some air, she spots a suspicious man. Being a cop, she naturally follows him. When they reach the basement, her cop instincts are on full alert and she calls security. Before she can finish the call, she is taken hostage by the brother of a recently deceased patient. Carina plots to bring Lucy in to help with the case and from that point on, the story’s headliner is Lucy with her family members in supporting roles. Charlie Peterson has taken hostages because he believes there is something suspicious about his only sister’s death and does not trust the hospital to look into the cause. Lucy, along with Sean’s computer skills, takes over the case as it takes a very unusual turn. The suspense is palpable and a lot of action takes place in this tightly crafted story. The only blot on this story is the final gathering of the Kincaid clan. It felt a little rushed and unresolved. Otherwise, this story was the best of the bunch.
Brennan does an excellent job of filling in the backstory on all the major characters in these three short stories. I have read several of her books featuring the Kincaids, but I do not believe a reader would need to read her full length novels to gain enjoyment from this collection. I hope that readers will get past the first story and give the last two tales a chance. Good things do come to those who wait.