by Julie Failla Earhart
I don’t need to remind anyone how hot it has been during the summer of 2012. In order to combat the heat, especially after a night at the MUNY, I raided my bookcase to find a book set in a cool location. Christmas always brings thoughts and hope of snow, ice, and dropping temperatures. I settled on an anthology, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, by New York Times bestselling author, Fern Michaels. Between the cover I found four delightfully romantic novellas.
The first, “Merry, Merry,” had struggling veterinarian Andi Evans trying to save her family property. She and her thirty-five animals take on Perry King of King Cosmetics when Perry wants to buy her land for a new factory. It’s boy versus girl as usual, but the interaction between Andi and her animals always made for a great laugh. I can’t imagine getting thirty-five animals to walk in line anywhere without total chaos.
In “A Bright Red Ribbon,” Morgan Ames is expecting an engagement ring for Christmas. Instead, her boyfriend Keith tells her he’s not quite ready to take the big step. He asks her to wait, and she does. Two years of waiting passes, but Morgan hasn’t heard a word from Keith. Her friends try to tell her that he has dumped her; however, Morgan has faith that he will show up and sweep her off her feet — perhaps too much faith. As Christmas Eve approaches, she isn’t sure what will happen.
“The Christmas Stocking” Amy Baran has returned to Fairfax, Virginia, to help her mother raise money for a new senior center. Her plans include making a deal with Old Man Moss for his Christmas trees. When she arrives, Moss has neglected the farm. Any hope of a tree crop this year is out of the question. When the farm’s sorry state reaches Moss’s son Gus in Los Angeles, he goes to back to see how he can save what so many people depend on. However, Gus and Amy have vastly different views on how the problems should be handled.
Finally, there is “Comfort and Joy,” which pits Angie Bradford against Eagle Department Store owner Josh Eagle. Angie has taken over her mother’s gift-wrapping business, located inside Eagle’s. The store is in trouble with sales plummeting every month. If something doesn’t change soon, both Josh and Angie are going to be looking for new careers.
Michaels is always an easy read and a great way to ward off the summer heat or spend a quiet winter afternoon. My favorite of the four is “Merry, Merry.” The hilarity of the animals closely reminds me of James Herriott’s novels. It was nice to read about characters in situations that took place during the winter months. By reading this in the middle of a record-breaking St. Louis summer, I was able to quit sweating the heat for a while.