I'm such a sucker for anything related to Christmas - music, decorations, movies and, of course, books! The covers are so pretty, the titles entice me, and after a 10-month drought of holiday paraphanalia, I just can't resist. You would think I would learn that the majority turn out to be three-tissue-box, heart-string-tugging cryfests. And since I don't normally care for that type of story, a reasonable person would also think that I would stop reading them. But I don't. So I began the read-a-thon with this gorgeous little book. Also happens that my random word for the Take-a-Chance challenge is "secret" so this book had a double attraction. (see http://www.takeachancechallenge.blogspot.com/) By the end of chapter one I was having vague, wisps of memory about why I shouldn't read these books. Our heroine is a single mom, struggling with the bills, about to be evicted, dead-beat dad threatening the custody of the children, boss threatening to fire her from her dead-end job and, worst of all, babysitter issues. Joy to the world! But, since this was a challenge book, I plugged along. Wasn't this the point of the challenge? To read something outside my usual box? Besides, this is a Christmas book. It has to have a happy ending. Poor Christina just continued to sink lower and lower till I knew the only thing that would save her was the obligatory Christmas miracle. But I got more than I expected. Ms. VanLiere managed to throw a couple of curveballs into the tired mix. Now don't be dismayed, naturally everything worked out. The bills get paid, the mean landlord comes to his senses, dead-beat dad beats it out of town, dead-end job turns into a promising business venture and, best of all, she finds a couple of wonderful babysitters. The almost slap-stick near-miss encounters between the characters kept the story from becoming totally depressing, but what really kept this from being just another Christmas tear-jerker are the twists, and I never saw them coming. So, alls well that ends well - even when you knew it would. And look at all the other pretty Christmas books on the shelf!