Welcome Home for Christmas
Just as I like to indulge in a few sugary Christmas cookies during the holidays, I also like to read a few comforting Christmas romances. While there’s nothing particularly earthshattering about Welcome Home for Christmas, it served up just the comfort I craved within a sweet holiday story.
Allison Carmichael is the director of a veteran’s center in a town with a large military base, and also volunteers at a home for abandoned children. Allison is mixing those two causes in a holiday charity auction with military men auctioned off to benefit the children’s home. No, it’s not a “get a date with a hot bachelor”; Allison’s notion is that women whose husbands are serving overseas could use some help around their homes during the holidays.
Allison is happy with her life. After dating a number of losers including a thief and a cheater, she’s fine being on her own. However, with Christmas Eve looming, she’s dreading the pressure she gets from her family each year at her mother’s Christmas Eve party demanding to know when she’s going to get married. Her mother is already calling Allison repeatedly, pressuring her to bring “someone” (an eligible man) home for dinner.
Allison’s trying to figure out a clever way to avoid her mother’s request when she runs into a hot Marine who flirts with her while she’s out shopping. When Allison meets him again at the charity auction, she impulsively bids and wins his services, which for Allison means being her date on Christmas Eve. Sergeant Troy Matthews, an MP on the nearby Marine base, is attracted to “Red,” as he thought of Allison before knowing her name. Troy has no interest in a long-term relationship, but is interested in getting to know herbetter.
Allison quickly realizes she’ll never convince her mother – a clinical psychologist known for grilling her daughter’s dates –that she and Troy are actually a couple unless they know something about each other. So Allison buys some more hours with Troy to go on fact-finding dates.
Yes, the setup is a bit hokey, but somehow it worked. It’s clear from the start there’s a strong sexual chemistry between Troy and Allison, but as they begin their getting-to-know-you dates it’s also obvious there’s a whole lot more between them than just chemistry. Both are fully-developed characters with friends, family, and jobs they love. They would both also do just about anything to help others, and the two step in to help each other on several occasions.
Christmas is a big part of the story. Aside from the pressure of her mother’s Christmas Eve dinner, Allison likes Christmas, enjoys shopping for Christmas, and wants to give the kids at the home a good Christmas. In contrast, Troy’s avoiding Christmas, refusing to go home to his mother’s in a nearby town because of a feud with his brother. I was initially worried the author was going to turn Troy into a grumpy Scrooge-like character, but she didn’t do it. In fact, before the story is over, Troy helps Allison find the perfect toy for one of the little girls in the home, and even agrees to play Santa Claus there.
Is this the best holiday story I’ve ever read? No, probably not. But with a few exceptions – including a conflict late in the book that seemed unnecessary and a bit stupid – I enjoyed myself throughout. Be warned: the ending is definitely saccharine. But truthfully, it delivered exactly what I wanted to happen. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Rains but I’ll definitely keep my eyes open for more of her books.