Silver Bells
By Darla
Dec 1, 2008 - 12:47:10 PM

Fern Michael’s SILVER BELLS is a lovely Christmas tale that proves that you can always go home.  Amanda Leigh returns to Apple Valley, Pennsylvania after twenty years in California as actress Amy Lee.  Amanda didn’t expect to find that her high school sweetheart next door still makes her heart beat faster. 

Hank Anders expected to spend the holiday in Apple Valley helping out his sister-in-law Alice with her year-old twins.  Instead, Alice abandons him with the twins, the Christmas decorating and a dog who refuses to be housebroken.  As Hank tries to wrangle the kids, the dog and holiday preparations, he finds the most unlikely helper in Amanda. 


SILVER BELLS, Michael’s tale of homecoming and Christmas combine beautifully to create a heartwarming holiday story.  Amanda and Hank rediscover the delight that they once shared and learn that their feelings have matured into an adult passion that has not been dampened by their years apart.


DEAR SANTA by JoAnn Ross finds mystery writer Holly Berry stranded in the theme town of Santa’s Village.  As her car stalls out on the state highway, Holly is rescued by Gabriel O’Halloran, a former marine turned Christmas tree farmer and hotelier.  Holly is installed at the Ho Ho Ho lodge to find Gabriel’s mother and his daughter Emma awaiting his return. 


Holly’s unfortunate past has led her to dislike celebrating the Christmas holiday.  However, Gabriel’s family and his insistence upon her participation in the festivities change her mind.  A visit to Kris Kringle’s Workshop in town helps to convince Holly that Santa might just be alive and well in Washington State.


JoAnn Ross contributes a fine story to this holiday collection.  Humor and passion both abound when Holly is re-introduced to the joys of the season.  Emma’s Christmas wish for a new mother added to Gabriel’s sexy passion seal the deal for Holly.  DEAR SANTA is Miracle On Thirty-Fourth Street with a handsome ex-marine thrown in as a bonus!

In CHRISTMAS PAST, Mary Burton includes a Christmas story of intrigue.  Ten months ago, Nicole Piper fled an abusive marriage and moved cross-country.  Her husband Richard tracked her down and followed her, but an accident left him dead, though not forgotten.  Now, a mysterious video is delivered by Richard’s attorney.  The video implicates Richard in the brutal death of the social worker who helped Nicole escape. 


Nicole turns to Detective David Ayden for help.  Shortly after her arrival in Virginia, David and Nicole met through mutual friends.  Their instant attraction was a shock to them both, but Nicole’s fear of commitment quickly diffused the budding romance.  Now, David and Nicole find that the passion is still alive, even as they realize that Richard has set plans in motion that will assuredly lead to her death.


Burton’s story is a fast paced mystery full of danger, suspense and passion.  Nicole’s reluctance to enter into another romantic relationship is overcome by David’s desire and care.  CHRISTMAS PAST is a story of new beginnings and surprise.


Judy Duarte includes another homecoming story with A MULBERRY PARK CHRISTMAS.  Mac Macgregor has returned to his old neighborhood solely to refurbish and sell his house.  He has very few fond memories of Mulberry Park.  As a police officer, Mac is enlisted by the cranky Mr. Iverson to discipline the new kids in the Victorian house across the street.  When Mac attempts to keep the peace between Iverson and the new neighbors, he discovers that Alyssa Ridgeway has moved back to town.


Mac and Alyssa were high school sweethearts until her father threatened Mac, warning him to stay away.  Unresolved feelings and desires come to the forefront when Mac sees Alyssa again after so many years.  She has returned after her father’s death and her recent divorce in an attempt to make a home for her family.  She didn’t count on Mac being there to decorate her home for Christmas and play Santa to her children.


A MULBERRY PARK CHRISTMAS is a story of the generations.  It highlights the fact that Christmas is always there as people come and go in life.  As Mac and Alyssa finally come together, they all realize what has been missing for so many years.  This is a great Christmas story with the perfect, happy ending.


SILVER BELLS is a very good contemporary Christmas anthology.  Unlike some anthologies, there is not a weak story in this book.  All the authors have contributed good stories surrounding the joy of the Christmas season.  I recommend this book for anyone who likes to be reminded about the miracle of Christmas.


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