What if Jim Sheridan’s 2009 film, Brothers, were a romance novel? What if the brothers were war heroes? What if one came home and the other didn’t? What if they were twins? What if they’d loved the same girl since they were children? What if pain and guilt and love and memories hung like a pall over the mourners? What if grief for the one who didn’t come home crippled the living … parents, brother, wife, friends, and a town? It might, says Miss Bates, be Juliana Stone’s second book in her Bad Boys of Crystal Lake series, The Christmas He Loved Her. How can a romance novel flawed in its inception be right in execution? How did Miss Bates come to enjoy a novel that pushed many of her ick-factor buttons? Continue reading: will Miss Bates work out her ambivalence about Stone’s novel?
Winnie Griggs’s A Family For Christmas encompasses the strengths and weaknesses of the inspirational and category romance. As such, there was much that Miss Bates liked and a modicum she didn’t: this is, she admits, a trite statement. However, every time she reads an inspirational category romance, she struggles to articulate how it can occasionally ring false in the telling and, at the same time, how attractive and positive its ethos can be. On the one hand, there is a preciousness to the world of the inspirational that requires a suspension of belief akin to paranormal romance! On the other hand, there is an ethos of love and acceptance that, if it’s not preachy and is coupled with honesty about physical attraction and a loosening of puritanical mores, can be quite appealing.
Blend the pros and cons of the inspirational with that of the category romance and the combination in Griggs’s novel is typical: there is succinctness and tightness to the writing and a well-thought-out plot, familiar and comforting, with the unfortunate propensity to leave interesting elements under-developped and present characters with strange and sudden turnabouts (pun intended) in behaviour. Griggs’s A Family For Christmas, guilty as charged. And yet … and yet … Miss Bates loves Christmas-set romances and enjoyed this one. Continue reading as Miss Bates completes her thoughts about Griggs’s historical romance