Book Review: Simple Gifts

review-cover-simple gifts

Title: Simple Gifts (Just Curious/Miracles/Change of Heart/Double Exposure – Westmoreland Saga 3.5)

Author: Jude Deveraux, Judith McNaught

Genre: Romance, Anthology, Holiday (Christmas), Contemporary, Historical

Rating: 4 Stars

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Description/Synopsis:

Bestselling authors Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught present their most dazzling and wonderful Christmas tales — the perfect treat for every romantic at heart…

Jude Deveraux: In the snow-covered hills of Virginia, a young widow finds that miracles really do come in the least expected packages, in “Just Curious,” praised as “one of Deveraux’s best” (Philadelphia Inquirer).”Change of Heart,” set in modern-day Colorado, is the touching story of a clever twelve-year-old who plays matchmaker for his bighearted, impractical mother.

Judith McNaught: This celebrated author magically portrays Regency London in “Miracles,” the enchanting tale of a world-weary lord — and an outrageous proposal. In “Double Exposure,” a determined young woman arrives to photograph a magnificent wedding at a reclusive tycoon’s Newport estate, and manages to unlock the secrets of a man’s heart.

WARNING – SPOILERS MAY ENSUE BEYOND THIS POINT – REVIEW BELOW

Simple Gifts by Jude Deveraux and Judith McNaught is a Christmas Romance anthology of four short stories (Just Curious, Miracles, Change of Heart, and Double Exposure)—and honestly, it’s a bit of a gem. I thought about delving into the depths of each story one by one in this review, as I usually do with anthologies, but finally decided, I don’t want to ruin it for you—it was that good.

These stories are wonderfully well written with only a partial-handful of errors to the books, and are otherwise easy to read, beautifully detailed, and engaging. Both authors had a way of drawing in the reader so that even though the stories are decidedly short-lived, I always felt engrossed in what was happening. The romances were deliciously heartwarming and gut-wrenching at the same time, and littered with a fun array of vivid characters.

If I had to point out one negative (and there is only one) it’s that I really wish the stories had been longer. I’m not a big fan of short stories—and though the authors did a great job of writing the stories in such a way where for the majority, they didn’t feel rushed or like huge amounts of time had been skipped…. near the end of the romances the books had a habit of making huge leaps and bounds towards the relationships that felt rushed and forced. It was like watching a flower bloom in slow motion and then BAM having it sped up 200% at the last five seconds.

I will say, out of the set my favorite story was probably Just Curious by Jude Deveraux, and my least favorite was Change of Heart by the same author. Where Just Curious was a giggle-worthy, heartwarming story of love-at-first-sight, Change of Heart was a bit of a let down. The female love interest (Miranda) was painted as a naïve airhead by both her genius son and the author. It was hard to enjoy a romance story where the heroine was dumb as bricks.

That aside, I really enjoyed this Christmas anthology. I loved the characters, the writing, and the stories themselves… which for an anthology of short stories, is a new thing for me. If you’re looking for a quick set of heartwarming romances to enjoy over the holidays, you’re probably going to enjoy this. I’d be happy to recommend it to anyone who needs a holiday romance read.

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