December is coming to its end. This week will bring us both the Winter Solstice and Christmas. It’s time to celebrate with some snowy romance covers featuring cold winterscapes.
Cuddle up in a warm blanket because the coldest season is here! The first snowfalls of winter are a magical time with a layer of frosty white covering the lands. Then you get tired of it all after two weeks of endless blizzards and constantly shoveling your driveway! 😁
For the week of Monday, December 20 to Sunday, December 26, 2021, let’s take delight in some romance covers featuring snow.
There are Christmas tales that inspire, ones that make us cry, and others that make us laugh with the joy of being alive. The Harlequin Temptation romance, Too Many Husbands by Elise Title, falls into the latter category. It’s a zany romp of a romance that could have been an old-fashioned screwball comedy on the live screen.
What does a woman do when she has not one, nor even two, but three husbands coming over for Christmas?
No, this is not a remake of the 1940 romantic comedy of the same name starring Fred MacMurray and Jean Arthur. Nor is it related to the similarly-styled film My Favorite Wife, which starred Cary Grant and Irene Dunne. Even so, you can see their influences, as Too Many Husbands is as silly and enjoyable as those films.
The Wacky Plot
At only 28, Casey Croyden’s a hotshot in the commercial real estate market. Due to her laser-beam focus on business, she has one failed marriage behind her. When the largest Japanese hotel chain owner decides to set his sights on the US market, Casey is just the one to make the deal.
The only impediment is that Toho, the owner of the hotel chains, is a “traditional” man. This means he might not accept entering into a deal spearheaded by a single woman whose focus is solely on her career. So Casey concocts a plan to have Toho and his wife Akiko stay with her in a huge rented house in a cozy New England setting with Casey and her husband. That is, an actor hired to play her husband.
Enter John Gallagher. He’s Casey’s new next-door neighbor. His unexpected arrival on her doorstep has Casey mistaking him for the actor she hired. She plants a big kiss on him, to John’s bewilderment, and acts as if they’re madly in love. John, to his benefit, plays along.
It Gets Even Wackier
Things take a wacky turn when David, the real actor, shows up. Caught in a trap of her own making, what’s Casey to do? What would any good actor do? Improvise! David is relegated to Casey’s brother, who’s also spending Christmas with them.
Remember, though, this is called Too Many Husbands, not One Husband Too Many. Who else turns up? Casey’s ex-husband, Wes. Casey and her ex aren’t on bad terms, but his appearance is bound to cause confusion. As a result, he’s given the role of a family friend.
To make the situation even more insane, John’s ex-wife, Brenda, appears. An ex-wife would muddy the waters more, so she’s presented as Casey’s best friend.
If you’re counting, that’s three husbands and two wives, not including Toho & Akiko. That makes for a winning combination as a full house beats out a three-of-a-kind hand!
It’s a full house indeed when Casey’s PA drops by to check on how the merriment is progressing. She’s shocked to find her normally cool-headed boss all distressed. What’s with this Christmas tomfoolery?
Somehow Casey should be out of her mind trying to broker a deal with Toho, all while trying to keep up appearances. John is her solid rock, and she can’t help but rely upon and be attracted to him. The pair are forced to share rooms and matching robes. “The Walls of Jericho” (a reference to the famous 1930’s comedic romance It Happened One Night) are raised to keep things platonic.
John is even described as looking like Clark Gable. (Although he looks nothing like him on the cover!) John remains a man of mystery, as we never learn much about him. We do know that he has no feelings for Brenda, their divorce was amicable, and he only has eyes for Casey.
Final Analysis of Too Many Husbands
Too Many Husbands is a hilarious romance. Nothing is meant to be taken seriously except the love story. As said, this book is a screwball comedy in the style of films from the 1930s and 1940s.
Have you ever seen the Frasier episode “The Two Mrs. Cranes,” where Daphne, wanting to fend off an old boyfriend, pretends to be married to Niles? Then Roz shows up and pretends to be Nile’s wife, “Maris,” who is “married” to Frasier. And the cop father pretends to be an astronaut? That was one of the funniest moments on television, and that’s what this book is like. One bit of slapstick silliness followed by another!
An epilogue wrapping up this story would have been the perfect bow to add to this gift of a Christmas romance. There are some loose ends, so it’s not perfection. But whether it’s Christmas or any time of year, Too Many Husbands is an exceptional, sidesplitting tale that will keep you smiling for a long time.
Rating Report Card
Naughty and Nice…
All Casey Croyden wanted for Christmas was a husband. Not a permanent one – just a man to play the part and help her impress the traditional Japanese businessman she was entertaining over the holidays. Sounded simple enough. Hire one from Actor’s Equity.
When John Gallagher arrived on her doorstep, the attraction between them was no act. And the debonair Mr Gallagher was no actor! Casey didn’t have the faintest idea who he was, but she had no time to trifle over details. Especially over the other minor glitch in her plan…what to do with him when the lights went out!
It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is almost upon us. It’s a holiday of giving and love. What are you doing in the upcoming days to celebrate? Busy wrapping presents? Doing some last-minute shopping? Are you baking cookies and building gingerbread houses?
Not celebrating the season at all? That’s okay, as Christmas is a time of sharing with everyone, no matter who you are. So we’re sharing some jolly covers!
For the week of Monday, December 13, 2021, to Sunday, December 19, 2021, we’re spreading some cheer and giving our loyal readers an early gift. Let’s get merry over some Christmas-themed romance covers!
The Covers from Left to Right, Top to Bottom
The Fifth Day of Christmas, Betty Neels, Harlequin, 1971, Stewart Sherwood cover art
A Christmas Charade, Karla Hocker, Zebra, 1991, cover artist TBD
Christmas Masquerade, Debbie Macomber, Silhouette, 1985, cover artist unknown
The Snow Garden, Bethany Campbell, Harlequin, 1989, Norm Eastman cover art
What do you think of our choices of Christmas-themed romances for this edition of Covers of the Week? Have you read any of these books? Which of our picks do you like the best, if any?
Do you have suggestions or requests for future Covers of the Week themes you’d like to see on Sweet Savage Flame? Let us know, and we’ll do our best to create a gallery of stunning art!
Before I discuss this romance, let me address the unfortunate cover. I don’t care how awesome that free book bag was! The editors at Harlequin dropped the ball with this one! That vast yellow oval covers the main couple’s faces. You can’t see the heroine, the hero, or that this was Emma Darcy‘s 60th book.
Simply titled Merry Christmas, Emma Darcy’s category romance foray into the holidays may have you near tears. It may also have you wishing some evil villains get their well-deserved comeuppance. This book throws almost every trope at you but the metaphorical kitchen sink. It’s an angst-filled yet ultimately very happy Christmas Harlequin Presents.
Many years ago, Meredith or Merry (Get it? Merry as in Merry Christmas?) Palmer had a summer romance with college student Nick Hamilton. Merry lied about her age, as she was technically a minor. She and Nick fell into what Meredith believed was true love. But Merry’s wicked stepmother caught wind of the relationship and informed the 21-year-old Nick he was dating a 16-year-old.
Summer came to an end. Nick went off to school, leaving Merry with a promise to reconnect every Christmas. He believed it was better they go their separate ways for the time being. They needed to both grow up a little before delving deeper into commitment.
As is usual in these cases, the affair left Merry pregnant. Merry, an orphan, lived only with her cruel stepmother. After her stepmom kicked her out, she had no one to turn to. So Merry went to Nick’s family, hoping she could get in contact with Nick. That’s when Nick’s (also) cruel sister gave her shocking news. Nick had been in a surfing accident, and his memory was affected so severely that he had no recollection of their “love.”
So Merry could just scat, thank you very much.
When Merry revealed her pregnancy as the reason she needed to talk with Nick, the sister pounced. She manipulated Merry into thinking it would be best if Merry gave her child up for adoption. The sister conspired to take the baby and raise her as her own child, never letting Nick know he was his “niece’s” true father.
Over a decade later, the sister and her husband are dead. Their “daughter” Kimberly is under her uncle Nick’s guardianship, who has no idea of her true parentage. Kimberly’s not too keen on her uncle’s girlfriend and knows the feeling is mutual. She had heard enough secret conversations in the past to learn she was adopted. Consequently, she demands to meet her biological mother.
Somehow Nick is able to track Merry down. She’s now working as a successful florist. When Merry and Nick meet once more, alas, he doesn’t recognize her at all. Merry is devastated that he doesn’t recall their love affair, which meant so much to her. She’s been celibate and pining for him for over 12 years.
Merry is anxious to meet Kimberly. Nevertheless, she is devastated the love of her life doesn’t remember her.
Making the situation worse is that Nick has a mean fiancee who thinks she’s better than everyone else. Merry and Kimberly included.
Nick is drawn to Merry, as deep in his subconscious he knows that there’s a connection between them. When the fiancee gets kicked to the curb, Nick pursues Merry.
Kimberly, for her part, is delighted. She hated her uncle’s girlfriend. Nothing would please her more if her mother and her “uncle” were to fall in love.
But keep in mind, Nick still doesn’t remember who Merry is. He wants to know more about Kimberly’s parentage. The story of Merry having a summer-fling with a young man who pledged to keep in touch but never did resonates with Nick.
Just who is Merry?
In the end, all is revealed. The truth behind Merry and Nick’s separation and Kimberly’s heritage comes to light. Nick is shocked by the depths of his sister’s machinations. It’s a good thing she’s dead. There’s no one left alive to be punished for her crimes. Rather than dwell on bitterness, Merry, Nick, and Kimberly focus on their newfound happiness and the future.
Final Analysis of Merry Christmas
The trio comes together as a family in the unity of Christmas. The ending of Merry Christmas was super sweet. It’s the kind of story that makes you believe in miracles.
I initially gave this 3 1/2 stars, added an extra 1/2 star for its wonderfully corny and uplifting Holiday spirit.
Anne Stuart’s Falling Angel is yet another paranormal from the American Romance line. This is a holiday-themed romance that begins on Thanksgiving and culminates in a Christmas miracle.
Emerson Wyatt MacVey had lived only for the love of money. He was a corporate raider who thought nothing about ruining lives and impoverishing people, much less breaking women’s hearts—especially the heart of Carrie Alexander from the small town of Angel Falls, Minnesota. But living a life of depravity took its toll upon the blond, handsome Emerson, and he died of a heart attack at the young age of thirty-two.
Our story begins at the Pearly Gates, where the angels above try to decide how to judge Emerson. Instead of sending him to hell, where he will surely suffer torments for all eternity, he is given a second chance. He is allowed to return to Earth in a new form: the black-haired Gabriel Falcone on Thanksgiving Day. His job is to help people and undo the damage that Emerson had wrought. He has until Christmas to get things right.
Gabriel arrives in Angel Falls in a pickup truck and quickly finds himself trapped in a snowbank. Looking for help, he comes upon the home of Carrie Alexander, the very woman whose heart he’d broken as Emerson. She’s having Thanksgiving dinner with friends and invites the stranger in to join them. Carrie introduces “Gabriel” to her friends. Gabriel must learn to help the folks he comes upon and regain Carrie’s love. Carrie, for some reason, finds Gabriel similar to someone she knew in the past…could it be Emerson? But he and Gabriel are as different as night and day!
Will Gabriel be able to prove to Carrie in one month that he truly loves her? That he’s worthy of being loved?
Final Analysis of Falling Angel
Gabriel’s struggles to be a good man are the main highlight of this book. Carrie is a sweet–very sweet–character. She’s a bit too perfect, and the story here lays the saccharine factor on real thick. It is a Christmas story, however, so it’s seasonally appropriate. There’s a bit from both “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “A Christmas Carol” here.
Falling Angel was quite a change of pace from the Anne Stuart romances I’ve read, where her heroes were intolerable with their cruelty and contempt towards their heroines. In Falling Angel, Stuart takes that evil villain and forces him to be a good guy. I wouldn’t rank it as my favorite Christmas Romance, but it was entertaining enough to earn a positive review.
Read this during the Christmas Holiday season, and it will get you in a merry mood.
Debbie Macomber has been a standout romance novelist for an astonishing 40 years. She’s written women’s fiction, full-length contemporary, and category romance. Her work has been adapted for the small screen numerous times, for both movies and series. Over 200 million of her books have been out in print.
Because I don’t watch too much television or read many modern romance novels, I had no idea how huge Debbie Macomber was. I merely thought of her as another category writer who had crossed over to be successful in women’s fiction.
Debbie Macomber is a 13-times #1 New York Times bestselling author. Her books have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. She is a publishing superstar.
Debbie Adler was born on October 22, 1948. She graduated from high school but did not attend any university.
Adler married Wayne Macomber just before her 20th birthday in September 1968. They had four children together. At first, Macomber never dreamed of becoming an author, as she had learning disabilities that hampered her ability to read and write.
After she had children, however, she had so much time helping her kids in their education she felt confident enough to create a romantic novel. She spent years typing out a manuscript.
Category Romance Beginnings
The apocryphal story goes that Macomber attended a romance conference and submitted her book for review. A Harlequin editor publicly critiqued it and mocked it quite cruelly, to the crowd’s laughter. Wondering what she could do to make it better, Macomber asked for advice. The Harlequin editor told Macomber bluntly: “Throw it out.”
Rather than discourage Macomber, this made her determined more than ever to be a writer. She submitted her manuscript to Halequin’s then-competitor, Silhouette books. “It cost $10 to mail it off,” Macomber told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in 2000. “My husband was out of work at this time, in Alaska, trying to find a job. The children and I were living on his $250-a-week unemployment, and I can’t tell you what $10 was to us at that time.”
Silhouette made a habit of signing authors who were rejected or dismissed by Harlequin, like Nora Roberts and Anne Hampson. They quickly accepted the book for publication. That manuscript would eventually see the light of day as Heartsong in 1984, Book #1 in the brief Silhouette Inspirations line, which had religious themes. In fact, seven of the first eleven romances Macomber published were Inspirations. Macomber is a deeply devout Christian and many of her works are inspired by her faith.
The first novel Silhouette published by Macomber was Special Edition #128, Starlight. As a sign of future events to come, Starlight has a Christmas-based storyline.
Being a Successful Author
When Harlequin bought out Silhouette in 1984, Macomber would continue to write for both imprints.
In 1986, Macomber wrote a short Christmas-based romance titled Let it Snow. Most every year after that, she would release a Christmas-themed book. Her first romance for Harlequin was The Matchmakers. It was released under the (then) clean and sweet Romance line. In 1988, Harlequin asked Macomber to write a series of interconnected stories, which became known as The Navy series. Before long, she was releasing two or three titles per year.
By 1994, Macomber began releasing single-title novels. Her first hardcover was released in 2001. In 2002, Macomber realized that she wanted to write books focusing more on women and their friendships. Thursdays at Eight was her first departure from the traditional romance novel into contemporary women’s fiction.
Macomber’s novels focus on delivering the message of the story. She does not dwell overly long on sensual passages. Her stories give the reader a feeling of hope and optimism. Many novels take place in small, rural towns on the West coast.
A Publishing and Television Sensation
Among Macomber’s top-selling books are Touched By Angels, Buffalo Valley, 16 Lighthouse Road (the first in her Cedar Cove Series), The Shop on Blossom Street, The Snow Bride, and Groom Wanted.
In 2013 The Hallmark Channel signed movie star Andie MacDowell to star in their series adaptation of Macomber’s Cedar Cove novels. The series was a rating favorite for three seasons.
Macomber is celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas.” Her holiday books are a special annual event for her readers. Five of her Christmas romances were adapted into original Hallmark Channel movies. She has served as a producer to these made-for-tv films.
Macomber serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. She and her husband, Wayne, live in Port Orchard, Washington, which inspired the Cedar Cove series. Besides her writing and multiple projects, they have many grandchildren to keep them busy.
As of 2021, Macomber’s new hardcover publications include It’s Better This Way and Dear Santa. In addition to writing romance and women’s fiction, she has published three bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works. Macomber has written a couple of children’s books as well. She also runs a monthly magazine.
Is there anything this phenomenal bestseller can’t do? Have you read Debbie Macomber’s romances? What are your favorites? Drop a comment and let’s talk romance!