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Thursday, February 5, 2009

Flames of Gold a Romance Anthology



Flames of Gold by Leanne Burroughs; Amy Blizzard; Judith Leigh; Amber Dawn Bell; Patty Howell
Publisher: Highland Press Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Historical, Holiday
Length: Full Anthology (240 pgs)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 Books
Review by Orchid

Christmas…

A time for happiness...a time for joy. A time to wish…a time to dream. A time to remember…a time to love. A time to hope for the love of your life…your soul mate. The holidays makes love shine its brightest–

Like flames of Gold.

At Christmastime there are always people who are sad, happy or lonely. These five stories begin with a trip to the past and then move to the festive seasons of more recent times. Each has Christmas as it’s main theme, but they are unique in the way the characters celebrate Christmas.

Abigail and Morgan in A New Tradition are like the waves on a beach, never quite arriving at the same place at the same time. As soon as he decides to be with her no matter what, she verbally attacks him and he retreats. Likewise when Abigail tries to mend their relationship, Morgan backs off. I felt this story had a bit too much controversy between the main characters and this spoilt my enjoyment.

A New Tradition is set in 1853. Abigail a young woman born before her time, supports the idea of equality for women, but is not really sure how this should be achieved. Morgan falls in love with Abigail but when discovers her forward thinking ideas, he backs away. After several misunderstandings, they attend the same Christmas Eve festivities but neither is sure if they will be able to overcome their difficulties and have a Happy Christmas.

*

The Snowflake Ball brings together a workaholic hospital intern and a firefighter. Chloe hates Christmas because her brother died at this time of year. Woodie’s family try to make Christmas a happy time for everyone they come in contact with. Woodie invites Chloe to the Snowflake Ball and almost convinces her to start celebrating Christmas again, but his plans go awry when he arrives at Chloe’s emergency department in a bad state. Chloe feels her world falling apart. Will Christmas always be a time of loss?

The Snowflake Ball tries to bring the warmth of Christmas into a cold area, but I don’t think it quite pulls it off. Chloe and Woodie seem more like friends than people falling in love. It’s a pleasant story, but not really a romance.

*

Entertaining Angels brings together a woman who loves both the religious and family aspects of Christmas and a man who tries to help her find a lost child. Gwen’s date mysteriously disappears and his brother Branson arrives to escort her home. They stop for coffee and Gwen hears about a lost child and she is determined to find the boy. Gwen strives to help the child find happiness and Brandon find peace, so that all of them can enjoy Christmas.

Entertaining Angels was definitely different from the previous stories in this anthology. Gwen’s religious beliefs were totally in line with the story, and gave her a depth of character that is often missing in these circumstances. Branson is a slightly bewildered young man, not sure what to make of this woman who follows the path she feels is right. All he can do is try to ease the way for her. I really liked this story. It had unexpected twists, but brought across the warmth of Christmas so that I could almost smell the hot chocolate and hear the crunch of snow.

*

Chance for a Merry Christmas is set very much in the present time. A wounded Chance returns home from Iraq and meets Sue whose mother has just died. Sue has come to the town of Mistletoe to spend time with a friend while she recovers from her loss. Although they fall in love, there are many obstacles in their way, not least of which is Sue’s inability to accept Chance’s career. She can’t cope with the thought of losing another person she loves.

Chance for a Merry Christmas Chance and Sue’s story didn’t quite hold my attention. Maybe it was because the town was called Mistletoe and her friends husband’s name was Nick Klaus. It seemed very tongue in cheek. I also wanted to order them to talk about their problem, not skirt round it all the time. Chance behaved in a very gentlemanly way, but Sue didn’t really explain why she felt the way she did.

*

A Christmas Flame The title says it all. Angel lost her family to a fire on Christmas Eve and, unable to forgive herself for what she believes is her fault, she has shut herself away from the world. A chance meeting with Jacob, the firefighter who tried to save her husband and baby, jolts her out of her misery and she begins to feel alive again. But this very feeling convinces her she is betraying her dead loved ones and she tries to retreat back into her shell.

A Christmas Flame I loved this story. It was bittersweet. Sadness mixed with love and hope. Every time Angel began to emerge from her misery, something happened to send her scuttling back in again. I felt like I wanted to take her gently by the hand and guide her out into the world again. Jacob tried, but he had to do all the work and he wasn’t sure if he was succeeding.

*

The two stories I loved in this anthology would have had top marks, but unfortunately the other three didn’t quite reach the same standard. Flames of Gold would make a pleasant afternoon’s reading, especially if it’s snowing outside