In the Carla Kelly tradition of holiday shorts that make you smile, these three sweet short stories (set in the Edwardian Caribbean across Christmas, New Year, and Reyes Magos) are a lovely addition to any holiday romance fan’s library. These are gentle, realistic stories about the holidays of ordinary or even poor historical people; it’s an anthology that’s a warm joy to curl up with.
Miss Dominguez’s Christmas Kiss
Grade: B Sensuality: Kisses
Shopgirl Lourdes Dominguez has long been harboring a crush on her boarding house roommate, Marisol Pascual. Little does she know, the feeling is mutual. While this story is sweet (in sensuality and tone), it lacks any sort of forward momentum. The two young women confess their feelings and enjoy some (off-camera) sexual awakening, but there’s no conflict beyond Lourdes feeling sad that Marisol will be away with her family on Christmas day.
Mrs. Gomez’s New Year’s Surprise
Grade: A Sensuality: Warm
The manager of the boarding house, Genoveva Gomez, is a forty-seven-year-old widow and mother of adult children. She can’t decide if the interest of thirty-six-year-old American translator Tom Hale is a nuisance – or a holiday blessing. This was my favorite of the three stories, as I loved the natural, comfortable domestic dynamic between these two. Tom’s reaction to accidentally seeing Genoveva naked is hilarious, flattering, and completely real.
Miss Weiss’s Reyes Present
Grade: A- Sensuality: Warm
Teacher David Ramos needs to confess his feelings to the clerk at the children’s counter, Leticia Weiss, before he runs out of money buying gifts for his niece. And David isn’t the only person struggling financially. Can Leticia and David make holiday magic for Reyes Magos (Three King’s Day, or Epiphany) for some of the boys at the boarding house hoping for gifts their dad can’t afford? I liked this sweet courtship, punctuated by Caribbean holiday rain and a mature conversation around what could have been a Big Mis. It did, however, seem awkward to hinge the second half of the story on poverty when David was so profligate at the start.
People have been asking about good historicals published in 2019. Well, here’s one. Everything in this collection is good, and some of it is genuinely great. Pick it up for the holidays!
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Hope you will!
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