“Christmas Eve: A Love Story”
By Molly O’Keefe
A novella in
Sweet Talk (A Boxed Set)
By Various Authors
Publisher: Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research
Trina Crawford and Dean McKenzie grew up on neighboring spreads in Dusk Falls, Wyoming. Best friends, they spent every Christmas Eve at the annual Christmas party thrown by Dean’s wealthy parents. Part of the tradition was the playing of Christmas carols by Trina on piano and Dean on guitar. That tradition, along with the Crawfords presence at the party, ended when Roy Crawford and Eugene McKenzie clashed over the ownership of a piece of land at the boundary of their properties. Even feuding fathers could not stop Trina and Dean’s friendship. Dean was there on the Christmas Eve when Trina’s mother left Dusk Falls forever, leaving Trina with her silent, drunken father. Dean understood Trina’s determination to escape Dusk Falls and her father. He too had plans to leave the town and the father he could never please.
The ties of friendship stretched but never broke as Trina left for college and law school and Dean studied land management in Laramie. If they each dreamed that there was more than friendship between them, the time never seemed right to speak of those dreams—not until as adults they found themselves back in Dusk Falls. But their idyll and their friendship were shattered by a double betrayal. It will take a Christmas Eve miracle of forgiveness to bring true reunion and an HEA.
“Christmas Eve: A Love Story” is Molly O’Keefe’s contribution to Sweet Talk, the limited edition collection featuring ten new contemporary romances plus a foreword by Robyn Carr and a bonus romance, When We Touch, the story that introduced Brenda Novak’s popular Whiskey Creek series. All proceeds from the sale of Sweet Talk will be donated to the Diabetes Research Institute via Brenda Novak’s Online Auction for Diabetes Research. In addition to “Christmas Eve,” the new romance collection includes “Dreaming of Tomorrow” by Melody Anne, “Jackson” by Violet Duke, “Promise My Love” by Melissa Foster, “Deadly Obsession” by Gina L. Maxwell, “Interlude” by Linda Lael Miller, “Bayside Retreat” by Sherryl Woods, “The Memory Journal” by Steena Holmes, “Just in Time” by Rosalind James, and “Sand Dollar Cove” by Nancy Naigle.I suspect that most readers will find the collection a mix of familiar and new authors. That was certainly my experience. The sexy cowboy in Miller’s story and the small-town appeal of Naigle’s offering reminded me why I have enjoyed novels by these authors. “Bayside Retreat” is a new entry in Woods’s beloved Chesapeake Shores series (to which I am addicted), and Molly O’Keefe has been on my auto-buy list since I read my first novel be her. The other authors are new to me.
Since O’Keefe is a favorite author and since I am an unabashed fan of Christmas stories at any season and since reunion stories rank #1 on my list of well-loved tropes, it is hardly surprising that I loved “Christmas Eve.” It is a combination of sweetness and substance and characters so real the reader wants to give them a hug, qualities that made O’Keefe’s Rita-winning Christmas novella “The Christmas Eve Promise” (2009) a perennial Christmas reread for me. “Christmas Eve” alone would have made Sweet Talk a recommended read, but there are other delights within this set. And readers gain the satisfaction of reading great stories and contributing to a worthy cause at the same time. You can’t top that.
Brenda Novak's Online Auction for Diabetes Research also released two other boxed sets on May 1: Sweet Dreams (thirteen new thrillers) for those who love romantic suspense and Sweet Seduction (thirteen new erotic romances) for those who prefer the sizzle factor at the highest setting.