This is the first of two reviews of Christmas fiction that I'm going to be posting. Over the past few days, I sat down first with Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot and then with Melody Carlson's yearly Christmas novella.
I pondered this for a moment and then Jane Austen came to my mind. Jane Austen was a spinster who never married. She had no family of her own, yet she wrote romances that have beguiled and spellbound generations of readers who love her books. Was Jane Austen's writing any less because she herself wasn't married? I suppose not. She was a wonderful writer. But... her books are essentially fairy tales. I have to admit that to myself. Once I'd admitted that to myself, I realized this book, Christmas Roses falls into that same category. It is a romantic fairy tale. I think this is important to understand. It is not realistic historical fiction. Simply put it is a fairy tale.
So, with that in mind...
Christmas Roses tells the story of baby Emma and her mother Celia. Celia's husband had died the previous year in an accident and Celia was doing all she could to stay afloat. In walks, Mark. Mark has been wandering the country looking for his father for the past two years. Mark comes to care about Celia and Emma. And so the romance begins...
Fairy Tale elements: Tonight I was talking with a young woman about how important it is to remember when we're reading a fairy tale romance. Real life just doesn't work that way... the guy knowing everything you want him to do without asking. The guy saying exactly what you want him to say when you want him to. The guy doing everything you wish he'd do for you even if it seems impossible--without you asking. Men just aren't like that.
Setting: Realistic historically? No. Celia's parents came over from Sweden, yet there was very little Swedish vocabulary in her speech and no mention or reference to an accent. This surprised me. Was everyone in the community Swedish? I don't know, because it was never mentioned or discussed. Her first husband was Swedish.
Fairy tale writing: The book was an easy and enjoyable read. A cup of tea would have complemented my reading time. The characters are likable-- formulaic, but likable. As Amanda Cabot says, people read Christian fiction because it is safer than secular romances. It leaves out the smut and lust. And indeed it does. I am thankful for that. It is really a very wholesome story.
The verdict? It's fine. Ms. Cabot paints a completely unrealistic picture of marriage and relationships, but this is a fairy tale, so it needs to be seen as such. I prefer Melody Carlson's Christmas stories, but if you want a holiday romance, made for tv movie in a book, then I'm sure Christmas Roses would fit the bill.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Publishing.