I know it's barely October, but the Christmas books are starting to arrive at the library. This one actually showed up in September and I just couldn't resist the gorgeous artwork or the early twinge of Christmas sprit.
This Christmas, Emily Merkle (call her Mrs. Miracle!) is working in the toy department at Finley's, the last family-owned department store in New York City. And her boss is none other than…Jake Finley, the owner's son.
For Jake, holiday memories of brightly wrapped gifts, decorated trees and family were destroyed in a Christmas Eve tragedy years before. Now Christmas means just one thing to him—and to his father. Profit. Because they need a Christmas miracle to keep the business afloat.
Holly Larson needs a miracle, too. She wants to give her eight-year-old nephew, Gabe, the holiday he deserves. Holly's widowed brother is in the army and won't be home for Christmas, but at least she can get Gabe that toy robot from Finley's, the one gift he desperately wants. If she can figure out how to afford it…
Fortunately, it's Mrs. Miracle to the rescue. Next to making children happy, she likes nothing better than helping others—and that includes doing a bit of matchmaking!
The story of Holly taking care of her nephew while his widowed father is in Afghanistan is touching and very well developed. The changes they go through as they each learn to adapt to their new lifestyle are very natural and realistic. They become a family that you really root for.
Jake and his father's story is slightly less believable. The premis that Jake's decision to purchase 500 robot toys may financially endanger the store is mentioned in the synopsis, but never developed in the actual story, at least not as the crisis foreshadowed. Similarly, Jake and J.R.'s refusal to celebrate Christmas because of personal loss many years ago is not explored as deeply as it could be and makes them, especially the father, come across more as a grumpy old man than as a distraught husband and father. Their half of the story is rather lack-luster.
And of course there's our heroine, Mrs. Miracle. She's a jewel! Her gentle, unruffled spirit puts you in mind of every wonderful grandma stereotype you've ever heard. You just fall in love and want to spend more time with her. Somehow I missed the first Mrs. Miracle book last Christmas, but it's on order so I can get another dose. Both books are now Hallmark Channel movies starring Doris Roberts - the perfect Mrs. Miracle. I hope they'll be re-running the first one this year so I can catch up.
If we're going to spend any more time together on this blog, you might as well know - I'm a Christmas freak. I listen to Christmas music at least four months out of the year (sometimes more). I watch nearly every sappy Christmas movie on tv, repeatedly. I'm addicted to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and "A Charlie Brown Christmas." It's really kind of sad, but that's me. This story may not make my re-read list every year and, yes, you can predict some aspects of the story by page 20, but it was fun. A firm 4 out of 5 stars with a sprinkling of colored sugar.