The Best Gift
I have a select few books that I like to pull out frequently to reread during the Christmas season. The Best Gift will definitely join their ranks.
Though one need not read If Only in My Dreams to follow the plot of this book, it would probably help enrich the experience as both books (written by the author also known as Wendy Corsi Staub) follow the same heroine. As the main action of the book begins, Clara McCallum Becker is celebrating Christmas with her husband, Drew. Her special gift to him? A baby rattle to tell him that she is pregnant.
The couple live in their dream house in California, have a mischievous new puppy, and they’re expecting a baby. Life looks perfect. Until one day Clara takes a nap – and wakes up in 2012. Drew is gone, she is hugely pregnant, and she can find no trace of the child she would have had a couple years before. Not surprisingly, this terrifies her and she must try to figure out not only what is happening in 2012, but what happened back around Christmas 2009 to get her to this point.
The action in this story jumps back and forth between 2009 and 2012 smoothly and rather convincingly. I found myself flying through this book as I tried to discover, along with Clara, what exactly has been happening in her world. Though Drew is offstage for much of the 2012 action, Clara’s love and trust in him still manages to seem very real.
Clara’s character is drawn very well, and the reader gets a very good sense of what happens inside her head. That (and the great timing of jumps between time periods) goes a long way toward making this book work. I don’t mind a romance with an extended separation between hero and heroine as long as I get an emotional payoff with a good reunion scene. I’m not going to spoil the twists and turns of Markham’s plot, but I will tell you that readers get their payoff.
My one quibble with this story – and it is a small one – is that I would have liked to see a little more of the couple’s relationship. From the details that emerge in this book, it appears that much of this development is handled in the previous book. Still, I wouldn’t have minded reliving a few more of those moments.
Though a little more restrained than many contemporary romances I’ve read, The Best Gift is a very sweet story. I wanted to solve the puzzle of what was happening as Clara jumped between times, but I also appreciated the warmth of this story.