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Can This Be Christmas?

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Lone Star Baby


Moon Over Water

The Snow Bride

When Christmas Comes
by Debbie Macomber
(Mira, $14.95, G) ISBN 0-7783-2090-1
Charming little towns, friendly neighbors and remarkably nice heroes and heroines are some of Debbie Macomber's trademarks. When Christmas Comes has all of these and is a pleasant way of spending an afternoon. You actually get two and a half romances in this tale of joy and the season.

Emily Springer, widow, has a lovely 19-year-old daughter attending Harvard. It is almost Christmas and daughter Heather calls to say she cannot come home for Christmas as she has too much studying to do. Since she is upset and angry, Emily calls her best friend Faith to cry on her shoulder. Faith is 10 years younger, and still recuperating from her divorce, but Emily can count on her. After talking, Emily, still relatively young at around 40, decides to surprise Heather by flying to Boston from her home in Leavenworth, Washington. She doesn't tell anyone, but she agrees to trade houses with a man she met via an Internet webpage.

This man is Charles Brewster, a 30ish something absent-minded history professor who needs to finish his book and who hates Christmas because of a breakup that occurred on Christmas Eve several years ago. So Charles heads to Leavenworth, inadvertently comparing it to the town of prison fame, expecting to enjoy the quiet and get some work done. But Leavenworth, Washington is like a smaller version of the North Pole at Christmas. They have sleigh rides, lights and decorations all over the place and several parades a day. From Charles' point of view, he has entered Christmas hell.

While all this is happening, Faith decides to surprise Emily with a visit. She spends much of her savings for airfare from California to Washington. What she finds instead is Scrooge, alias Charles. With no where else to go and no way to make alternate travel arrangements due to the holidays, Faith convinces Charles to let her stay in exchange for feeding him. It takes some doing, but Faith teaches Charles to live again and Charles teaches Faith to trust again.

Emily arrives in Boston only to find her daughter getting ready to head to Florida on the back of Elijah's (no last name) Harley for the holidays. Heather is rude and sullen and leaves her mom at Starbuck's with no idea of what to do with herself in a town in which she is a stranger.

Another little twist enters the tale when Charles' mother (a meddling, rich lady with nothing better to do than harass her two unmarried sons) calls and finds Emily at Charles' condo. She sends her other son Ray to find out what is happening. Ray is a workaholic publisher in New York, who drops everything to head to Boston. Once he realizes the whole story, he decides to stay with Emily. He has nowhere he has to be and he is attracted to her. Love blossoms in Boston.

These two romances are pleasant and at times funny and cute. The interactions are of people who are leery, but who recognize a good thing when they start to feel it. The antics are enjoyable, such as a snowball fight and sledding in Washington and a lobster escapade in Boston.

The romance is that of Heather as we watch her come to her senses and try to find her way as a mixed up college student. It is only half a romance because it is a peripheral tale to the two main romances.

While enjoyable, this book carries an almost unbelievable price of $14.95 for the amount of book you get (256 pages). This price and the relatively fluffy plot keep me from completing recommending When Christmas Comes. But some may find its warmth worth the cost.

--Shirley Lyons

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