Sunday, March 16, 2008

Silent Night Anthology

The Silent Night Anthology contains four stories that either happen at or around Christmas, or have Christmas themes.

The First is "A Berry Merry Christmas" by Claire Cross, that sends elf Holly Berry from Santa Claus's workshop at the north pole to the house of a bachelor who adopted his brother's daughter when her parents were killed at a fire on Christmas Eve. In order to keep his niece from having nightmares, he's forbidden the celebration of Christmas in his home. Now, Holly has arrived to bring some Christmas cheer in the form of opening Drew Sinclair's heart to a new love, Katherine O'Neill. But how can she do that when Drew is in danger of falling in love with her... and she cannot resist him, or his niece, either?

Next is "The Unexpected Gift" by Dee Holmes. Sarah McKay is preparing for another Christmas with her son, when her son finds what he thinks is a dead man in the front yard. The man isn't dead, but he is dead drunk, and she knows him, Zach Danforth, the man who she loved, but wouldn't marry her. She gave him up to marry another man, and is now divorced from that same man. Zach, a hard-driving photojournalist, has burned out and quit his job. Does he still have another chance with the woman he never gave up loving?

Third is "Christmas Promises" by Susan Plunkett. Jake Rimsa shows up at Marne York's house at the behest of his sister to take her to the annual Christmas Party, but the call from the hospital of a severely battered sends them into the mean streets to find a missing child, and hopefully arrest the woman's ex-husband, who sent her to the hospital. But Jake also wants to find out why Marne, whom he loved and wanted to marry, cut off all contact between them while he was away serving in Operation Desert Storm. Can he reignite the passion that has apparently died between them?

Lastly, "Midnight in Death" by J.D. Robb (Nora Roberts). Shortly after Christmas, Eve Dallas must pursue an escaped serial killer who has a passion for testing the bodies of his victims to their limits. When he was caught, he changed his plans to doing the same to the people who caught and tried him, torturing them until they break and then dumping the bodies in public places. Since Eve is on his list, can she catch him before he gets to her, or anyone else she loves?

The first three stories in the book are pretty standard love stories, and the one I most enjoyed was "A Berry Merry Christmas", which made me wholly believe that the two characters were falling in love, especially as they met for the first time in the story. The other characters already had a history, so it was easier to evoke feelings of love and passion for the writers.

Nora Roberts' story stands out in that it is the least "Romance-like" of all the stories. In every other story in the collection, characters falling in love is one of the prominent themes of the story. In the Eve Dallas tale, she and her husband Roarke are already married, and still in love, so the story focusses all on the murder investigation and catching the serial killer, leaving a very different feel in your mind after reading it. It almost doesn't belong with the rest, except for the story happening just after Christmas. Really, this story belonged more in a mystery or thriller collection than a romance collection.

If you read this collection for a romance angle, the J.D. Robb story will feel intrusive and not very romantic. Likewise, those readers who pick it up for the Eve Dallas story may not find the other stories as enjoyable (well, except for the Susan Plunkett story, which is a mystery of sorts). While this doesn't feel like a very well-put together collection, each of the stories is enjoyable in different ways. But a cohesive collection it is not. Frankly, the idea of writing a Christmas-themed or timed story is not enough to hold this collection together on its own. Readers, be warned.

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