A rather belated Happy Holidays to everybody! I had fully intended to get reviews of these posted before the holidays, but life (as is often the case) just didn't cooperate.
Marley - The Other Christmas Carol by Donald Allen Kirch:
If you saw my review of The Misadventures of Ka-Ron the Knight, then you know I'm a fan of Don's work. This is a very different story from that one, but it has the same kind of imaginative twists and narrative strengths to draw you in. A sequel to Dicken's original take, this one catches up with the ghost of poor Jacob Marley a century or so later, this time in a home that is already rumoured to be haunted . . . and currently occupied by the Kringle family. When a fight breaks out between Kathy's parents, an idly muttered prayer from the family butler gives Marley a chance at redemption.
A sweet story (without being sappy), Marley offers up a well balanced mixture of supernatural chills and domestic tension, as well as an entirely satisfying conclusion. I will say the presence of the butler initially put me off (does anybody really have a proper butler anymore?), but he is quite endearing and, as it turns out, rather instrumental to the tale.
Red Satin 3: Red Satin Christmas by Giselle Renarde:
The third in the Red Satin series (following Red Satin and The Night Before Red Satin Christmas), this is another wonderfully well-woven tale by one of my all-time favourite romance/erotica authors. Fulfilling the promise of family drama hinted at in the last volume, this story reunites us with Regan and her transsexual girlfriend, Maisie, for a little holiday romance. I've been wondering for almost a year now who Jerry's mysterious companion was, and I'm delighted to say my guess couldn't have been more wrong. Their arrival (and subsequent news) turns up the family drama quite a few notches, while the surprise arrival of Regan's father cranks it all the way up to ten.
Normally, I'm not one for stories of family drama, since I try so hard to avoid the very same dramas in real life. Giselle has done such a fantastic job of developing her characters (and their relationships), though, that I had to make it through to ensure they were all right. Of course, it helps that Regan and Maisie get more intimate alone time than in either of the first two novels, bringing an entirely different rosy glow to my cheeks.