Saturday, December 16, 2006

Under The Mistletoe - Mary Balogh

This book has 4 of Mary Balogh's old novellas and a new one.

In the new story, A Family Christmas, a young couple who have been married for a year and estranged for more than eleven months meet again at a family Christmas and are given the chance to start over.

The new one is A Family Christmas. This is a story about a couple already married and I usually like those. And I liked this story, it had all the good ingredients of a christmas story - a family house party, greenery gathering, snow ball fights, caroling - but the main characters were a bit cold. They do resolve their differences in the end but I wished they would have done it sooner. They were being kept apart but the heroine's mother who believes the hero, a cit, is beneath her. Grade: 4/5.

In The Star of Bethlehem a betrothal ring is first broken and then lost. It symbolizes a broken marriage, about to be ended. But along comes a child in the form of a little chimney sweep, and along comes Christmas, the time for gift-giving, and soon there is hope for both the ring and the marriage.

The Star of Bethlehem is another story about a married couple and I must say this was my least favourite. The heroine was too childish and the hero to stiff and jealous. They seemed to be screaming most of the time. Also the child being a thief didn't help, I know it's probably closer to how things really happened but since the main couple didn't really work for me to have this sad part of reality showing up annoyed me more than moved me. Grade: 3.5/5

In The Best Gift, three ill-assorted, lonely adults--an aristocrat, his niece, and a teacher hired as her chaperone--are brought together for a Christmas two of them are determined not to enjoy. But then a child is foisted upon them, and somehow the magic of the Season begins to wrap itself about all of them.

The Best Gift was a story I quite liked. I think that happened because it's mostly about the heroine and what her dreams and desires were. Some people might say that a viscount marrying an illegitimate girld would be very unlikely but for me it worked as the ultimate fairy tale. To bring happiness and love to someone who has none!
The heroine is an orphan who has lived first in an orphanage and then at a ladies school and is now a teacher. She is invited by the hero to spend the holiday season at his house to be his niece's chaperone. Grade: 4/5.

In Playing House an aristocrat and his daughter, who seem to have everything, become unwillingly involved with a young woman and her young siblings, who seem to have nothing. But as Christmas draws near, it becomes less clear which family is rich and which is impoverished.

Playing House disappointed me a bit because I felt the hero was too bitter and desilusioned. It took him a long time to see the heroine in a positive light and by the time he did I just wanted him to get over it. Poor Lilias was actually a really nice person and he just kept seeing her a scheming and mercenary woman. Grade: 3.5/5.

In No Room at the Inn an assortment of unhappy travelers are stranded by rain and mud at an inferior inn on Christmas Eve. But love finds them there after a young couple arrives just as their baby is about to be born--and are put in the stable because there are no rooms left.

I quite liked of No Room at The Inn about the miracle that the birth of a child at christmas can do for a group of total strangers who are stuck in a country inn for Christmas. Since there are so many characters in it none of the romantic stories are well developed... so I just took it as a Christmas story, not as a straight romance because then I would have wanted to know more. Grade: 4/5.


  1. I think my favourite of this one was Playing House, followed by A Family Christmas. The only one I disliked was the last one.

  2. This was my first anthology by Mary Balogh and frankly, I'm a bit disappointed. I trully liked A Family Christmas and A Room at the Inn. The other three I completely forgot them which shows how much I liked them.

  3. Funny how we all like different things :-)
    Although there were no true A reads for me in this anthology there are some she as written that I really loved - like a Handful of Gold in the Christmas Keepsakes anthology - so I keep looking for another winner :-)


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