The good thing about anthologies is that it gives readers an opportunity for quick reads, without a lot of the flowery and extraneous prose that often bogs down other novels.
The bad thing about these short stories is that they often feel rushed, with missing scenes.
Holiday Magic is a G-rated example of the good and the bad.
Fern Michaels is the headline writer of these four holiday stories, and her “Holiday Magic” is abrupt on the romance. She manages to convey a touching story in 89 pages, but there is no courtship or romance. Stephanie is a single mom working at a ski resort, trying to save enough money to buy her daughters a house for Christmas. Patrick manages the resort and acts a bit like Scrooge.
Cathy Lamb’s “A Very Merry Christmas” does a better job of conveying a fun story with enough romance. It’s a first-person story and full of humor. Meredith is a tough, independent heroine in charge of the local Christmas show. While directing that, and running her bed and breakfast, she manages, despite her best intentions, to start a romance with Logan. This story has G-rated romance, a surprise, and holiday flavor.
Mary Carter’s “A Very Maui Christmas” may be fun for some and too cynical for others. Heroine Tara has a really bad spurt of luck, which actually gives her an opportunity to escape her family for a Maui vacation at Christmas. However, her family follows her. Her holiday fling with Darren is cut short, and she has to make a decision. There is too much drama compressed into this story and again, not enough romance.
Terri DuLong’s “A Cedar Key Christmas” is another first-person story and is really totally lacking in romance. However, it does have a feel-good holiday plot. Josie is a single mom who loves her small town, and she eagerly gets involved when the community rallies to help elderly neighbor Al keep his house. It seems his nephew, who antagonized Josie as a child, is coming to town to put his uncle in a retirement home. Of course Josie and nephew Ben start a relationship—at the end.
These are rather wholesome holiday stories, and won’t take up much of your time. Will it infuse you with Christmas spirit? Probably not. The heroines are lacking in all four stories, mostly because not much time is spent on them. But the stories are easy reads with happy endings. Lamb’s “A Very Merry Christmas” is the best of the quartet.