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Review: The Christmas Cookie Collection by Lori Wilde (a Twilight, Texas novella collection)

Carrie (Blurb):

Come join a meeting of the First Love Cookie Club…

“On Christmas Eve, if you sleep with kismet cookies under your pillow and dream of your own true love, he will be your destiny.”

Carrie MacGregor doesn’t believe this–not one bit. She might be a “paid up” member of the Cookie Club and the local Sweethearts Knitting Club, but she’s not about to give in to the forced ho-ho-ho of the season. And why? Mark Leland. When he left town he broke Carrie’s heart. Now, the local-guy-made good is back, hosting the reality show “Fact or Fantasy.”

Fact: Mark broke her heart. Fantasy: her friends think they’ll be getting back together. But could the magic of a Twilight, Texas Christmas make Carrie’s secret dreams come true?

 

Raylene (Blurb):

It’s Christmas time at the Horny Toad Tavern, located in the heart of Twilight, TX. Elvis is on the jukebox, the lights twinkle outside…and inside, Raylene Pringle is wondering if it’s going to be another “Blue Christmas” without her true love, Earl.

But things are about to change—because ‘tis the season for unexpected romance and a surprise mother/daughter reunion…reminding Raylene that you should never disbelieve the legend of the kismet cookies!

 

Christine (Blurb):

Everyone in Twilight, TX knows that Christine Noble can mix up the most delectable concoctions and turn them into amazing Christmas cookies. And the whole town also knows she can’t seem to find the ingredients for finding true love. Then through the doors of her shops strides Eli Borden—the man she still thinks of as “the best kisser ever.”

To her surprise, Eli asks her on a date…and to her greater surprise she accepts. Maybe it’s the mistletoe, or the season, or even the cookies…but suddenly something magical happens. But the dreams that Christine thought she’d given up on are suddenly coming true—and it all begins with another kiss Eli.

 

Grace (Blurb):

It’s Christmas Eve, and Flynn and Jesse Calloway are thrilled to be expecting a new baby. Jesse believes he’s put his dark history behind him … until his past resurfaces, pulling him from Flynn’s side, leaving her alone and vulnerable. Then Flynn’s car hits a patch of ice, and Jesse must move earth—and heaven—to save her and their unborn child.

 

Review:

“Throw a penny in the fountain of the Twilight town square, and you’ll be married to your first love . . . “

The fictional town of Twilight, Texas makes its place in the world based on a legend that says that first loves are magical–and that the town of Twilight has the power to fulfill their promise for people. All four holiday-themed stories have that legend as a central feature.

Three of the stories were previously released (“Carrie”, “Raylene”, and “Christine”) and one was new but featured the couple from the first book in the series (“Grace”). The first two stories are novella length while the last two are considerably shorter, closer to short stories. I have read some of the Twilight, Texas books, but all of these stories were new to me. Though earlier books and stories are alluded to, you don’t need to have read them to understand these four.

Read all together, the stories are perhaps not as effective as they would be if read on their own–having three stories in a row all stressing the “you’ll marry your high school sweetheart” legend stretched its credibility a bit, if you’re in a critical mood. Actually, more than one major plot point in these four stories depends on some pretty convenient coincidences, so if you are feeling critical, you might just want to steer clear.

If you’re just looking for a cute and fluffy holiday read, though, you’ve come to the right place.

I thought the two middle stories, “Raylene” and “Christine” were definitely the strongest narratives of the group; I never did warm up to the two main characters of “Carrie”, and “Grace” was too short to really engage me–though perhaps if I had read Flynn and Jessie’s novel first, I would have felt differently. Actually, my favorite story in the book wasn’t even that of a title character–the main romance in “Raylene” wasn’t even that of Ray and Earl, but instead featured Raylene’s long-lost daughter Shannon and her new beau Nate. Though I was definitely pulling for Ray and Earl to reunite, Shannon and Nate were by far my favorite romance in the whole collection.

As holiday reads go, these stories are cute but somewhat lacking in substance. For long time readers of the series, though, I can see how each one would be like revisiting with old friends–they definitely do have that cozy, small-town “home for the holidays” feel to them.

Rating: A solid B for a holiday read that will leave you with warm fuzzies, though they are mainly sugary confections at heart.

I received a copy from the author in exchange for an honest review.

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