When I first began reading Christian fiction, a great many of its books were set in Western prairies. It also seemed that many of them contained one of three plot lines: a teacher from the East who came West, didn’t like it, and planned to go back home, until she fell in love; a snobby socialite, usually from Boston, who also didn’t like the rougher accommodations and culture of the West and planned to go back home; or a marriage of convenience, where two people who did not love each other and sometimes who had just barely met married each other, usually because one recently lost a spouse and for various reasons needed one, and they ended up coming to love each other by the end. Nothing wrong with any of that, but I just got burned out by it all and didn’t read anything prairie-ish or even Western for a very long time.
So with that background, and the fact that romances and short stories are not my favorites, either, I am not sure why I picked up A Prairie Christmas Collection: 9 Historical Christmas Romances from America’s Great Plains except that it was a good deal for the Kindle app, and I have enjoyed many of Tracie Peterson’s books and have been wanting to read Deborah Raney, two of the authors whose stories are included in this collection. The others are Tracey Bateman, Pamela Griffin, JoAnn, Grote, Maryn Langer, Darlene Mindrup, Janet Spaeth, and Jill Stengl, none of whom I had heard of before.
Sure enough, three stories contain a teacher coming from the East, a snobby Bostonian socialite, and a marriage of convenience. 🙂 But there is enough of a twist in each case that the stories aren’t cliche. Other stories include a widowed father and son moving into a new town and falling for a woman whose heart still belongs to her dead fiance; a woman who has lost everything and is greatly reduced in her circumstances coming to a new town to work as a maid; a woman determined to keep her family home after her mother’s death though her siblings and the railroad want her to sell; a tutor with a troubled background trying to make a new life and taking on a student not at all interested in his subject matter; the wife of a newly married young couple trying to make everything “just right” for her visiting mother-in-law; and a woman with a heart “colder than ice” coming to live with her estranged brother and taking on a job for the preacher. Some characters from the first story appear in the last, but I didn’t catch whether any of the other characters cross over into other stories.
One of the stories probably would have worked a little better as a novel, just because there was so much crammed into it, but overall, I really enjoyed the stories and each character’s journey of faith. They made for very pleasant Christmas and winter reading.
(Sharing at Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books)