Monday, December 12, 2011

A Time-Travel Christmas

The title: A Time-Travel Christmas
The authors: Megan Daniel; Vivian Knight-Jenkins, Eugenia Riley, Flora Speer
Publication: Dorchester, 1993
Got it from: PA Library, 2006

There was a time, way back when, when time-travel romances were huge and had their own line at romance publishing houses.  This  book is from that glorious era and it's actually my second time reading it.  Normally I only read new Christmas romances, but I enjoyed this one so much I wanted to give it a second go.

I've talked before about why I love the short story romance format, but I've been burned before when it comes to Christmas romances.  They can feel stale, unbelievable, preachy, or some combination of the three.  But I have to say this collection may be the finest collection of short story romances I've ever read, not even mentioning the Christmas and time-travel aspects.  There's not a dud amongst the four.  The writing is superb, the characters well-developed and the stories extremely entertaining.

"The Christmas Portrait" by Megan Daniel - Cass is a window dresser in New York City who has no family and is feeling lost at Christmas.  She had recreated a scene of a 19th century ball in one of her windows and with the help of a real fairy godmother, manages to step through the window and into the ballroom of Gilded Age New York.  Cass soon realizes that there's a lot of hypocrisy amongst the upper class and although she enjoys being spoiled, she finds herself drawn to poor artist Nicholas Wright.  I love stories of Gilded Age NYC, so I was a big fan of this one.

"The Spirit of Things to Come" by Vivian Knight-Jenkins - Taylor Kendall is on her way home to visit her family in rural Massachusetts when her car goes off the road in a snowstorm and she finds herself back in Puritan New England.   Everybody in the village assumes she's a boy, except for the hunky blacksmith whose lusty loins tell him otherwise.  There's a lot of humour in this one, especially when Taylor tries to argue with the local Puritan sheriff about the ridiculous anti-Christmas laws.  I'm normally afraid of Puritan stories, since they usually end in some poor woman being burned at the stake, but this one was more lighthearted and there's even a party where the villagers go skating and make popcorn.  I liked the way the author resolved the time-travel dilemma at the end, too.

"The Ghost of Christmas Past" by Eugenia Riley - This is the most haunting (ha! pun!) of all four stories, and also unique in that it's told entirely from the perspective of the hero, who is the time-traveller here.  Jason Burke is a jaded world journalist who's on a break to write a fluff story about Christmas tours in London.  He receives a mysterious invitation to a hotel where a young woman claiming to be a ghost gives him a tour.  The next day he discovers that the hotel is a crumbling building and that the ghost was real.  Determined to find out more, he returns and is whisked back in time to Victorian London to save the girl before she can die and become a ghost.  I like that we get to see Jason's perspective and watch him fall in love.  This is definitely a knight in shining armour story, as Jason has to rescue his precious Annie not only from her own death but from a villainous suitor as well.

"Twelfth Night" by Flora Speer - Aline, stricken with grief at her grandfather's death, goes to visit his most prized possession, a medieval book of hours, at the local library.  As she turns the pages, she finds herself whisked back to 1100's England and into the castle of a Norman lord.  This one stretched plausibility a little (the lord would have even, shiny teeth? really?), but I appreciated what the author did with the story.  In her 20th century life, Aline was divorced after an unhappy marriage and in medieval England, she is able to set things right by saving the marriage of a younger couple who made the same mistakes she once did.  Meanwhile she finds love of her own with the lord of the castle.  There's also lots of interesting information here about medieval Christmas traditions. 

This collection is one for my keeper shelf, and I could easily see myself re-reading it several times over.