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Can This Be Christmas?

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Lone Star Baby


Moon Over Water

Mrs. Miracle

Sooner or Later

This Matter of Marriage

Three Brides, No Groom

Touched By Angels

Buffalo Valley by Debbie Macomber
(Mira, $14.95, G) ISBN 1-55166-841-6
Buffalo Valley is like a big family reunion where you get to meet friends and family you haven’t seen in several years while getting to know some of the new members of the family. Fans of the “Dakota” series are in for a real treat. If this is your first opportunity to read about Buffalo Valley, North Dakota, then you will enjoy a heartwarming reading experience.

Carrie Hendrickson is a young woman studying to be a pharmacist so she can take over the local drug store operation from her friend and mentor Hassie Knight. Carrie is optimistic, full of life and recovering from a heart-wrenching divorce. She loves the small town life and is ready to get out of college and be on her own.

Vaughn Kyle is a recently retired Airborne Ranger whose parents live in nearby Grand Forks. He decides to visit for Christmas and makes a stop on the way in Buffalo Valley to see Hassie. Vaughn is named for Hassie’s son, who died in Vietnam while engaged to Vaughn’s mother. Hassie has kept in touch by mail all these years and Vaughn is anxious to meet her. While in Buffalo Valley, Vaughn meets Carrie and love blossoms.

There are a few problems though. While living in Seattle, Vaughn has been dating a young executive, Natalie, with whom he has discussed marriage. Natalie has put him off and Vaughn is starting to question their relationship. The bigger conflict results because Natalie has just helped Vaughn get a job with her company, a giant retailer named Value-X. Value-X is interested in transforming sleepy little Buffalo Valley into their next mega-center site and Natalie asked Vaughn to scope out the town’s reactions, undercover, while he is there.

Buffalo Valley, long a bastion of family-owned-and-operated businesses, has just gone through a several year rejuvenation and the last thing anyone wants is a big store like Value-X coming in, destroying business and changing the small-town atmosphere they love. Carrie and Vaughn’s romance and how the town works to keep Value-X out make up the rest of this delightful story.

Vaughn is a nice guy who has a great sense of humor, is easy to like and fits right into this small town life. He is generous, polite and feels guilty about misleading people. He quickly grasps the plusses of Buffalo Valley and the negative impact Value-X will have, and he decides to try to help keep the retailer out.

Carrie is a heroine who knows what she wants, has lived through heartache and is ready to move on with her life. Although wary, she does not allow her experience to taint her view on life or her willingness to get to know Vaughn. Even when she is hurt by Vaughn, she lets her feelings for him rule her actions, rather than allowing past hurts to cloud her thinking. That is a refreshing change from many stories where the heroines hang onto the past far too long.

I truly enjoyed revisiting the characters from the past three novels in the series. Macomber does a good job of introducing the past stories in a brief fashion, so you can see how they have impacted Buffalo Valley, yet don’t feel bogged down with details you do not need to know. It seems to be just the right amount of information to satisfy those who have read the previous books and to explain things for those who have not.

The ending seemed a little rushed, with conclusions occurring quickly and with little of the detail seen in other parts of the book or the rest of the series. With this book being a hardback edition, I hoped that Macomber could have spent more time on solving the conflict and drawing out the ending to the love story. I was all ready for a fight with Value-X and Natalie and that really never materialized.

But the book is a reunion tale, and what better way to end a reunion than with a happy ending all around? Buffalo Valley is a story that ties up the series with a nice ribbon and bow. Enjoy!

--Shirley Lyons

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