Snowflakes and Stetsons
Grade : B

I’m usually not an anthology junkie, but when Christmas rolls around, I just can’t get enough Christmas stories. As a result, I have quite a stash of holiday anthologies.  While there wasn’t any one story that hit it out of the park, I more or less liked everything I read here so I’ll definitely count this book as one for the win column.

The Cowboy's Christmas Miracle

- by Jillian Hart
Grade : B Sensuality : Warm

Do you like your holiday tales with a heavy helping of angst? The Cowboy’s Christmas Miracle delivers more than a little bit in that department, and frankly, Hart writes a good emotional, “tug at the heartstrings” sort of story. In this tale, Caleb McGraw has just finished serving his sentence for a crime of which he was wrongfully(of course) convicted and he is passing through his old Montana town to see the former sweetheart he left behind.

When Caleb learns his former love has died, he prepares to move on, but then he learns that he has a child.  When he finds the child living with a local widow, he can’t drift out of town as quickly as planned.  What ensues is as much a story of parental love as romantic love. Caleb’s desire to get to know his son is well-written and I enjoyed seeing this side of Caleb just as much as I liked watching him fall in love with Caroline. Caleb has a lot to overcome if he’s ever going to rebuild his life and while some parts of this story were just a little too pat, I found it moving, sweet, and perfect for the season.

Christmas at Cahill Crossing

- by Carol Finch
Grade : B- Sensuality : Warm

The next story, Christmas at Cahill Crossing by Carol Finch, takes us to 1880s Texas, and switches things into a more humorous tone. The heroine, Rosalie Greer, has opened a dress shop in the small town of Cahill Crossing. How a small frontier town can support a fancy dress shop is pretty much beyond me, but there you go. What’s important is that Miss Greer got caught in a blizzard while taking supplies back to town. Fortunately, she is saved from death when Lucas Burnett’s dog finds her in a snowdrift.

After she recovers, Rosalie is determined to drag local outcast Lucas into local society come hell or high water. At its best moments, their love story is pretty cute. However, there are some pretty eyeroll-inducing bits as well. Lucas is part Native American and he describes his heritage in terms that often sound like something from a 21st century sociology textbook. In addition, the lighter tone of this story is sometimes adorable and sometimes just feels a bit silly. While not my favorite, this story was still cute and enjoyable.

A Magical Gift at Christmas

- by Cheryl St. John
Grade : B+ Sensuality : Warm

Readers go a little further back in time with Cheryl St. John’s story, A Magical Gift at Christmas, which takes place several months after the end of the Civil War, on a train headed to Denver with a supply of gold. Beset by bandits, the last few cars of the train are uncoupled in an attempt to keep robbers from the car containing the gold. This strategy also leaves a private car, with the owner’s socialite daughter as passenger, stranded in the snow.

Thankfully Meredith Abbott is every bit as pragmatic as U.S. Marshal Jonah Cavanaugh.  While naive about her situation, Meredith listens to Jonah and throws herself into the effort to keep safe and to provide a bit of warmth and Christmas feeling for them and for the two orphan stowaways trapped with them. The lead characters seemed like genuinely goodhearted people and the children in their care were likeable without being overly cutesy. If you want a Christmas story that will leave you with the warm fuzzies, this one will do it.

It’s not often that I come across an anthology where I like all of the stories, but that was certainly the case with this strong collection.  I’m so glad my TBR pile turned up a winner.

Reviewed by Lynn Spencer
Grade : B

Sensuality: Varies

Review Date : December 10, 2016

Publication Date: 10/2011

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Lynn Spencer

I enjoy spending as much time as I can between the covers of a book, traveling through time and around the world. When I'm not having adventures with fictional characters, I'm an attorney in Virginia and I love just hanging out with my husband, little man, and the cat who rules our house.
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