by Beverly Jenkins and Elaine Overton, contemporary (2011)
Kimani, $6.25, ISBN 978-0-373-86233-7
Baby, Let It Snow is a collection of two short stories, both with a second time at love theme. for some Yuletide reading, and unlike other Christmas anthologies, the stories here do mention Christmas. So it's time to crack out the eggnog, put the well-worn copy of Sister Act into the DVD player, fast forward to that part where Whoopi Goldberg is leading the nuns in performing the God-sanctioned version of Little Peggy March's I Will Follow Him to the Pope, and feel merciful about the shortcomings of this book.
Beverly Jenkins gets the snowball rolling with I'll Be Home For Christmas. Morgan Todd, celebrity chef, and Dona Caldwell, Broadway sensation, used to be together until he was caught on photo by a tabloid on his night out with another woman. Oops, caught with his hand in the cookie jar! She dumped him shortly after, but when the story opens some three years later, she heads home to Detroit to attend the wedding of Morgan's sister, whom she is close to. Morgan is there, looking like a man reformed, but can she trust him this time around?
This is a pleasant story, Morgan and Dona are loaded with superlatives, so it's hard to take these awesome people seriously as realistic people, but they are noth likable types. Morgan's remorse and reformation feels genuine, and Dona is well justified to be cautious when it comes to taking him back. Unfortunately, the author preempts any effort needed by these two to work things out by having a bevy of secondary characters cheer these two to get back together. Seriously now, that guy cheated on Dona and broke her heart. While I can understand Morgan's family members assuring Dona that he's a new man, I have a hard time believing that Dona's own parents would cheer him on. If I were Dona, I'd be annoyed. He broke her heart. How come nobody is on her side?
This story is fine, but it would be better if the secondary characters had left the couple alone more to let them work things out on their own.
Elaine Overton's story is Second Chance Christmas. Robert Fenton wants to avenge himself on Diana Rogers's father, but that old man died before Robert could do anything. Oh well, he'd take his revenge on Diana instead! You see, Diana's father not only torn them apart when they were in love a long time ago, he practically ruined Robert's life, so now Robert will take his revenge by buying out half of the Rogers' family winery and inn. Mind you, Diana is not slow and the first thing she suspects when he shows up is that he is up to something. But it isn't long before Robert realizes that he cannot even begin to put his plans in motion. Strangely enough, he actually feels that he has come home at last to Diana...
This could have been a very readable story, since Diana is no fool and Robert is a very nice example of a woobie who wants to be bad only to realize that he's all bark and no bite. Unfortunately, it's hard not to feel sorry for him since he's been wronged pretty badly by Diana's father, and he doesn't actually get to put his revenge plot in motion. Instead, he is constantly made to apologize by Diana, who feels that she is the bigger wronged party here when she actually isn't. Diana throws silly temper tantrums by design, since in the end she apologizes for being what she is. But that doesn't change the fact that Diana often acts dramatically like the wronged victim here when she is actually benefiting from Robert's presence in her life. As a result, I feel sorry for Robert more often than not. What did he see in her again to make her worth all that effort?
Perhaps if they were longer, both stories may be more developed and therefore be more satisfying to read. As it is, both stories introduce emotional conflicts only to resolve them quickly and tad too abruptly. Both stories are very readable, but they feel somewhat rushed and incomplete at the end of the day.
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