A Very Special Christmas by Mary Balogh
I wanted to borrow this book last year for Christmas, but I couldn’t as it was borrowed by someone else. So, this year I made sure I got A Very Special Christmas by Mary Balogh in time. In time was over a month before Christmas and the book was reserved, so I couldn’t renew it. The book is a mix of short stories and a couple of short novels. I gave each one a rating and the book turns out at a bit over 2.5 stars. Quite disappointing considering how much I love Mary’s novels.
Why only 2.5 stars? While is Christmas, so religious mentions are to be expected, it was a bit too much at times, especially as it was repetitive. The same with some Christmas traditions like picking up greenery to decorate the home, every time done by the family. I think it could have worked nicely if once the servants would decorate instead of the family. On top of that, in every story was snow and lots of children. Again, this was to be expected, but this too became too repetitive.
A Christmas Bride – 4.5 stars
Is a story between a wealthy self-made man Mr Edgar Downes and Helena, Lady Stapleton, a widow with a shady past. I enjoyed the story, but she comes out rude more often than not. This would have been unacceptable for a Lady. I think her story could have been made a little better, but still good.
A Family Christmas – 3 stars
This is the story of Elizabeth and Edwin, married for an year, with a child. They are under the will of her tyrant mother. I can’t say I liked the characters, so weak to be pushed around by her mother, who was dictating what they should do in their own home and how to live their lives.
The Star of Bethlehem – 2.5 stars
The “Star of Bethlehem” is the engagement ring our hero gave the heroine with a gorgeous diamond. She loses it when they are fighting, by tossing it in the room. A chimney sweep boy finds it, but they care for the boy, giving him an easy job at the house. He fixes the ring and gives it back. Not realistic, but nicely made, hence the 2.5 stars.
The Best Gift – 2.5 stars
This could have been a lovely novel, the story between an illegitimate orphan and a titled man, with an illegitimate daughter. She accompanies his niece for Christmas and they fell in love over those three days and he proposes to her. If the story was longer and she would have stayed a bit longer it would have been more realistic and more enjoyable. Maybe an epilogue to the story, after an year, when he has decided to propose, but not after three days.
Playing House – 2.5 stars
This is quite a strange story, between two childhood friends. She is obviously poor, but he thinks she wants to trick him into a marriage, without having anything to support his theory. The story is nice, but not as good as it could have been.
No Room in the Inn – 1 star
A story about a group of travellers taking shelter in a small inn. I gave it one star because a couple was forced to sleep in the stables and she was pregnant, almost at the point of giving birth. That sounded like an avant-garde idea, who nobody thought of before, doesn’t it? A poor way to finish the book.
Overall I’ve enjoyed most of the stories. The long ones got better ratings and, in the short ones, sometimes the issue was that they were too short to have enough time for the characters to develop. I would recommend it as a light Christmas read.