A season for love and family
Mistletoe Reunion by Cheryl St.John
When Marlys Boyd moves West hoping to find acceptance for her doctoring skills, she’s surprised to find her former fiancé, Sam Mason, running the local newspaper. And with the ladies in town determined to make a match of the doctor and the single father, she’s not sure she can resist building the family they once dreamed of.
Mistletoe Bride by Sherri Shackelford
Pregnant by a man who betrayed her trust, a mail-order marriage is Beatrix Haas’s only hope. But when she arrives in Cowboy Creek and learns her intended groom has died, she needs a new daddy for the baby that’s coming right away. Blacksmith Colton Werner offers the mother and child the protection of his name, but can their marriage of convenience ever lead to true love?
I sometimes wonder why Harlequin decides to combine two shorter romances into one book when they’re often totally unrelated, but this one is obvious: both stories happen at the same time, in the same town. They are not TOO connected, so they work individually, but the same cast of characters is there.
I think the first novella spent more time introducing all the characters in town, while the second was the one with the tighter story, and so I found it more readable.
Mistletoe Reunion deals with a very unconventional heroine – a woman in the 1860s who has moved to a small town in the middle of nowhere to practice Chinese medicine. She has short hair, she is hopeless at socialising, and while she might be a bit of a stretch for her time, she certainly was different.
I did feel that there was as much time spent meeting all the townspeople as there was on the main characters’ story, which is why I felt more settled by the time I got to the second novella.
Mistletoe Bride throws you right into the action with the heroine expected to die in childbirth, and the hero – a stranger to her, but one of the few people around who can communicate in her native German language – offering to marry her to give the child a father. From there I think the romance developed well in the short timeframe. The “sweet” aspect of these Christian books worked well considering all the circumstances. I actually forgot I was reading a Christian book, which is a sign it’s a good story (if you’re like me and don’t like heavy religious themes).
One thing that I noticed: there’s a scene dealing with domestic abuse in the second story that is almost the same as one from a Lisa Kleypas book. This is a scene I’ve come across recreated in some other historical romances as well. Maybe it’s a coincidence, but I get the impression a lot of authors are taking inspiration from the Wallflowers series.
By the end of this one I was really enjoying it – and I view it as one story, rather than two novellas. I thought it was a bit too heavy with random townspeople at the beginning, but then I would have been happier for more to read when I reached the finish.
Review copy provided by NetGalley.