Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas, Romance, and Returning Home

A common feature of many romance novels is the idea of returning home. In some, it’s a prodigal son or daughter coming back to family. Others have a main character who’s become wildly successful – in Silicon Valley or Nashville, for example – but returning home for a family illness, a career crisis, or a personal issue, among other reasons. And “home” is usually a small town, with small-town values and where everyone knows everyone else.

And the idea of “returning home” is perfectly suited for Christmas, because millions of people in real life return home to family for the annual holiday.

A Christmas Homecoming by Melissa McClone

In A Christmas Homecoming by Melissa McClone (part of her Bar V5 Ranch series), Josiah Whitaker returns to his hometown of Marietta, Montana, but not voluntarily. The board of his highly successful Silicon Valley company has forced him to take leave for the month of December. Josiah had cut his hand on a zipline and developed a blood disease as a result, which had left him exhausted and somewhat frail. But his workaholism had driven him back to work before he should have gone. A fainting spell in his office forced the board the act.

Josiah, perhaps borrowing a characteristic from Ebenezer Scrooge, hates Christmas, because it disrupts work, and work is what life is about. His hometown also brings back memories of the death of his best friend Buck Smith, the teenager who befriended the then-geeky and friendless Josiah before dying of cancer. It turns out that Buck’s sister Ellie works at the ranch where Josiah will be staying. Ellie is still working through her own issues from her brother’s death, including a good head of resentment that her life and her parents’ lives revolved around her brother’s illness for years.

At first slowly and then quickly, two people are brought together by shared memories, their hometown, and the discovery that they may have more in common than they realized.

Love, Snow, and Mistletoe: Four Novellas

Love, Snow, and Mistletoe is a collection of four novellas by various authors that have to do with returning to hometowns, 

In “Her Fake Christmas Date” by Victorine Lieske, Jennifer is returning home for Christmas to stay with her mother, and she’s not looking forward to the visit at all. Her best friend growing up, and the “boy next door,” is Shane, who sees her struggling with her suitcase and helps her. She doesn’t at first recognize him; Shane had been kind of geeky and not one of the popular kids. But Shane has grown up too, and Jennifer is at first shocked that the geeky boy she remembers is the handsome, broad-shouldered man who helps her. For his part, Shane had always loved Jennifer, but he recalls the overheard conversation at school where she referred to him as “a nobody” because she wanted to be part of the poplar crowd. But then Jennifer needs a fake date to escape her mother’s matchmaking activities, and Shane agrees to do it.

“A Holiday Rescue” by Tamie Dearen involves Amy Pinkerton, a successful mystery writer who is spending Christmas week at a cabin in Wyoming to write the next book in her stated-based mystery series. She’s caught in a snowstorm, and rescued by Max, once a top country singer but living in seclusion with his daughter since the death of his from cancer. At first Max thinks Amy is one of those husband-chasing women who saw a recent story about him in a music magazine, but he soon learns she’s oblivious to his fame. Romance ensues.

In “A Second Chance for Romance,” Grace is a single mother who unintentionally moves into an apartment across from Sam, who once dearly loved Grace. She opted for the more glamorous boyfriend (a mistake), while he never married. He now owns a car repair shop, which Grace will shortly find herself in great need of. And both Grace and Sam will discover that second chances for romance do happen.

“The Billionaire’s Perfect Match” by Annie Houston is about a professional matchmaker, Aurelia James, media-famous for finding mates for wealthy people. On a plane home for Christmas, she encounters Lander Perry, an old friend from her childhood, who’s not familiar with her work or her fame. They discover their parents have been traveling together and are planning to share part of the holidays together as well. Aurelia and Lander will find themselves thrown together more than they might have expected, until Aurelia’s firm has a crisis involving hacked files. 

Love, Snow, and Mistletoe is four stories, four different authors, but each involving some idea of going home again. 

Top photograph via Freestocks and Unsplash. Used with permission.

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