Falling for Christmas is the umbrella title for two completely different Christmas stories, one much better than the other. In A Cedar Cove Christmas, Mary Jo Wyse, heavily pregnant, travels alone from Seattle to the festive little town of Cedar Cove hoping to find the love rat who deserted her before her three brothers (three Wyse men, geddit?) can beat him to a pulp or force him to marry her, the last thing she now wants. No sooner has she arrived than she starts to feel ill but because Cedar Cove is a nice place and this is a Christmas story, she is immediately rescued by local people and put up in an apartment over a stable (of course) full of animals for the church nativity play. In no time at all she’s made a host of new friends, given birth and fallen in love. What a heart-warming story!
Oh, hang on. This is a book by Debbie Macomber and must follow certain rules.
Rule1. Every book must have a character with or recovering from cancer, however irrelevant this is to the main story.
Rule 2. You will be spared no pain, in this case that of childbirth.
Rule 3. Humour is out and here’s an example. Poor Mary Jo, feeling labour begin, calls the fire fighter who’s already helped her out and tells him contractions have started. His reply? ‘Then I’d better get out there so I can transport you to the birthing center.’ Ha ha ha! What sort of author writes a sentence like that without seeing how funny it is? One without a sense of humour, I’m afraid.
Mrs Miracle is completely different, a real fairy tale of New York that had me wishing Ms Macomber would write like this more often. Finley’s department store is in full festive swing, with the toy department especially busy. Amongst the seasonal staff is an elderly lady called Mrs Merkle, whose name badge has somehow been printed as ‘Mrs Miracle’. She’s a wonderful asset, a brilliant saleswoman who gets on with everyone. She knows a surprising amount about the staff and customers, though. She understands why Mr Finley Sr. and his heir, Jake, don’t celebrate Christmas. She sees that Holly, struggling to care for her nephew Gabe over Christmas, needs some help. Somehow things just seem to turn out the way Mrs Miracle says they will. There’s just enough snow, the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, carriage rides in the park and what turns out to be the best Christmas ever for the main characters. It’s all thanks to Mrs Miracle but who is she? Where does she live and why does she disappear on Christmas Eve? You’ll have to guess. This story even includes three festive recipes. If I were the publishers I’d put it out on its own as a slim volume. It would make a lovely Christmas film.