I’m not a great fan of reading Christmas stories in September, although I seem to have picked up a few books recently that culminate in families getting into the festive spirit; it seems that holiday books are coming out ever earlier, and so I may have little choice in the matter if I’m to keep up with new releases from favourite authors as well as from those new to me. Fern Michaels falls into the latter category, although she has an extensive back catalogue. This early seasonal offering would appear to be a standalone, so I get to sample an author I’ve not encountered before without worrying how many of the background characters would be instantly recognisable to regular readers.
Ivy has been in mourning for her husband and two young children for eight years, after they were killed in a plane crash not long before Christmas. Her father owns the airline and has put no pressure on Ivy to return to the job she held there, so she’s been able to wallow in her grief with no money worries all that time. I spent most of the book longing to either slap Ivy or watch someone shake a modicum of sense into her.
Ivy’s overindulgent life of misery is overturned, however, when a young girl knocks on her door. Holly has sneaked out of her friend’s house to practice for the Christmas concert – since her widowed father has banned music from their house – but has become lost in the woods on the way back. Ivy jumps to all the wrong conclusions about Holly’s family situation and starts interfering, which at least gives her less time to wallow.
Holly’s father is the groundsman at a gated community for senior citizens, which also belongs to Ivy’s father. His wife was a talented singer until her unexpected death, and he’s been in mourning, albeit not nearly so dramatically, for just as long as Ivy. Daniel does at least hold down a job and go on occasional dates, but his attitude towards Holly’s musical ambitions does rather suggest he could do with a little professional help too.
When Ivy gets to meet Daniel, she realises that he’s not quite the ogre she imagined from Holly’s descriptions, and the two hit it off, rather to the disappointment of Ivy’s old school-friend, who is now one of Holly’s teachers. There was a lot going on in the background of this story, some of which could have been quite interesting, had I not expended most of my reading energy on getting cross with Ivy.
All in all, not a great addition to my festive reading list.
The flames of memory always seem to glow a little brighter during the holidays. Perhaps that’s why this time of year is so difficult for airline heiress Ivy Macintosh, as she faces thoughts of yet another festive season alone. Since the plane crash that claimed the lives of her husband and two children eight years ago, she’s been submerged in grief.
When eleven-year-old Holly Greenwood knocks on her door, lost and frightened after a forbidden visit to her singing teacher, Ivy’s self-imposed exile is shattered. Holly has an extraordinary voice, and wants nothing more than to perform in an upcoming Christmas musical. Holly’s father, Daniel, doesn’t allow music in their home, refusing to give a good reason why—just as he refuses to talk about Holly’s mother. Ivy has no idea how closely she and Daniel are linked by their tragic pasts, yet she’s drawn to the warmth she senses beneath his gruff exterior. And as Christmas nears, their shared concern for Holly begins to draw Ivy back into the world again… and toward a family who may need her just as much as she needs them…
Read an excerpt.