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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

3 Christmas Wishes by Beth-Ann Mason

3 Christmas Wishes by Beth-Ann Mason
Publisher: Tri-Destiny Publishing
Genre: Contemporary, Holiday
Length: Short Story (114 pgs)
Heat Level: spicy
Rating: 4.5 stars
Reviewed by Xeranthemum

It’s Christmas time and Lacey Jude is not only out of a job, but she and her five-year-old son have also been evicted. When the reverend of her church says he knows of a widower who is willing to let them stay through the holidays, her apprehension is overridden only by the drive to provide a warm and safe place for her son for Christmas.

Robert Martinez left the small town as soon as he graduated and hardly looked back. As a founding partner of one of New York’s top advertising firms, he lives his life on his own terms. Going back home brings him face-to-face with a harsh reality; you can rarely have everything your own way.

Coming from such different worlds, will Lacey and Robert find a way to make the Christmas wishes of the people they love most come true?

Warning: 3 Christmas Wishes is like a Hallmark movie, but with spice. The crafting of the characters that populate this heartwarming holiday story was pure creative genius. It’s hard to describe, but Ms. Mason has given readers a treat by imbuing all the people in the story with a true life-like feel and substance.

At first, I thought this was going to be an inspirational story, it’s not. Oh, it inspires all right, just not what a reader will think at first glance. 3 Christmas Wishes has heart, believability and that elusive something that every writer hopes to achieve. To call this book a romance is an understatement because it’s so much more. It’s a great story about two people who heal, who discover and embrace the true meaning of family, love and Christmas miracles.

Dominic is the crotchety old man that a reader will meet first. Ms. Mason took excruciating care to show a reader just how sad, lonely and heartbroken the man is. The descriptive word choices that the author used were so vivid, I felt like I was right there. It was a true joy to see a man resigned and looking forward to death do a complete turnaround and find a reason to live again.

Next, is Lacey, the heroine. In these days and times, it’s very easy to imagine a woman such as she. A single mother, she tried her best to support herself and her son but no matter what she did, she couldn’t catch a break and during the Christmas season found herself relying on the charity of strangers just to survive. I could sense her frustration, her yearnings and her worry that her best just wouldn’t be good enough for her son, Xavier. The heroine doesn’t wallow in self pity – she had her moments, who wouldn’t? But she always put her son first and the author again used words that made the strength of her mother’s love jump right off the pages and into my heart. Lacey truly was a special woman and deserved to have something go right in her life.

Now, just because I said that Lacey is sweet and loving doesn’t mean that her character didn’t have a temper. Wow, that was fun! I mean, I felt like fist pumping the air when she said what she did to Dominic’s son, Robert. What a great attitude; she had spunk, fire and a passionate personality with a need to defend those she cares for. Again, the author played that scene to the max and it was very effective.

Robert is, at first, a jerk. First impressions were not good but the author gave me a chance to see inside Robert’s head to find out what made him tick. Turned out there’s pain and he’d been running from it for years. It’s emotional and evoked sympathy for him. The hero truly was looking for love ‘in all the wrong places’ and after meeting Lacey, the truth of it bopped him on the head like a felled tree. The conflict then stems from the hero’s complete bumbling of the situation. For a man who’s a genius at making money and living the fast life he had no clue about dealing with real people without agendas, shallow friendships and who don’t play emotional games. And nothing brought that closer to home than his interactions with Xavier.

Xavier is an absolutely adorable child. In fact, he’s the catalyst for quite a lot of the plot movement. His innocence, his unpretentious ideas about Christmas gifts and decorating, and his enthusiasm to embrace life in its simplest forms made me want to grab a stuffed Teddy Bear and hug it while I continued reading. His character enhanced my enjoyment because the author accurately captured his sweetness. However, along with a boy’s capacity to show the lightness in life, there’s also the downside of that poem, ‘snips and snails and puppy dog tails’. Like his mom, Xavier had a temper and it was at that moment, Robert truly started to become a hero in my eyes. That last sentence holds a lot more meaning once you’ve read the scene.

I really wanted to give this book the highest rating but two things held me back. One, the editing wasn’t perfect – almost, but not quite. Second, the volatile nature of Lacey and Robert’s first meeting and subsequent placement of passionate anger and actions in juxtaposition to the scenes of kissing and physical loving seemed a bit too fast a transition to be believable. The segue from one high emotion to the other seemed choppy. Despite those two issues, this story rates high on its ability to satisfy my expectations of what a feel-good holiday story should be. I enjoyed the wonderful and spicy descriptions of when Robert and Lacey do come together in physical loving and found the hero’s loss of control quite sexy and romantic.

The happily ever after is one of those ‘Kodak Moments’. You know the kind, sentimental, full of joy and captures the best of things? In fact, it reminded me of older television Christmas specials, from the Waltons to Little House on the Prairie. Christmas miracles can and do happen and the best stories are ones that leave that glow of happiness in your heart long after you’ve turned the last page. 3 Christmas Wishes delivers on that promise. If you were hoping to find that one holiday story that embraces the very nature of what the season is about, then read this book. I’m so very glad to have read it. Now, pardon me, I’m going back to hugging my Teddy Bear.