Thursday, October 4, 2012

Rescuing Christmas - Vicki Lewis Thompson, Catherine Mann, Kathie DeNosky (Harlequin - Oct 2012)

Holiday Haven by Vicki Lewis Thompson
All Ben Rhodes wants for Christmas is to be left alone. And yet, in a fit of Christmas-cheer-induced insanity, he agrees to help beautiful shelter director Tansy Dexter find homes for all her rambunctious animals. Little does he know that the one truly in need of a loving home this season - is him.

Three wonderful stories.  Ben is a cameraman doing a story on Tansy's rescue shelter, The Haven.   She is trying to find homes for her animals.  Ben is attracted to her but knows he should stay away.  He refuses to get emotionally involved with anyone or anything, having known more loss than he wants to experience again.  Tansy has a talent for matching up people and pets and she can see that Ben has a lot of love to give.  She can't understand why he refuses and keeps his distance.  As they spend time together helping the animals, they start to care for each other, but Ben is afraid to take a risk.  There is a lot of pain Ben must overcome, but Tansy is right there to help him.  I loved both of the human characters and the animals were absolutely terrific.  The cat, Max, plays an important role in this one as he and Ben help each other.

Home for Christmas by Catherine Mann
Shelby Conrad has had more than her fair share of silent nights. But even though her husband, Tech Sergeant Alex Conrad, is coming home in time for Christmas, Shelby isn't sure he's in time to save their marriage. Can a road trip to deliver three shelter dogs to their new homes teach the couple that the most precious gift of all is hope?

This was a great story about second chances and hope.  Shelby and Alex have been married for eight years, though he has been away for a lot of the time.  Both of them have some serious issues that have affected their marriage but they have never talked about.  Shelby wants better communication with Alex, but he tends to avoid confrontation by working more and going on more deployments.  She has about given up on saving their marriage.  When he comes home in time for Christmas she has volunteered them to deliver three dogs to their new homes and hopes that this trip will bring them closer together.  Shelby has been frustrated by Alex's refusal to talk about any of their problems.  During the trip they talk more than they ever have and she learns things about his past that explain the way he deals with conflict. She has always felt that she had to work extra hard to be a perfect wife because of the way her mother had walked out on her family when Shelby was young. Alex is still in love with Shelby, but he doesn't know how to convince her.  He has always felt that he wasn't good enough for her and has tried to make it better by working extra in order to buy her stuff.  He is stunned to discover her need to be perfect and the reasons behind it.  By the end of the trip they realize that they want to make their marriage work and that now they have the tools to do it.  I loved the three dogs in this story and the way they each help Alex and Shelby learn more about each other. 

A Puppy for Will by Kathie DeNosky
Will Parker hasn't exactly had all his hopes and dreams met, but work has filled the gaps in his life. Or so he thinks - until an energetic and large Saint Bernard foster puppy and Will's cute neighbor Macie Fairbanks introduce him to the best thing about Christmas and life - unconditional love.

After his divorce from his cheating, lying ex-wife, Will has given up on relationships and has focused on his work as a programmer.  His grandmother worries about him and has talked him into fostering a puppy for the holidays in hopes of him keeping the dog.  While chasing the dog he meets Macie who he is attracted to.  He has no intention of getting involved, but can't seem to stay away from her.  Thanks to Macie and Harley he is developing a little balance in his life.  Macie has also been burned by love and has decided to stay away from men for awhile.  She is very attracted to Will and loves being with him.  But she has a secret that she's afraid will ruin their developing relationship.  I loved Will's basic kindness, especially when it came to Macie's cooking.  When he discovered her secret he was hurt and angry, but I loved the way that he came around at the end.  I loved the way he went to her on New Year's Eve.  I thought Harley was adorable, and his Houdini-like abilities were perfect for the story. 

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