Home for the Holidays was one of the first Debbie Macomber books that I ever read and I can't believe that I have never reviewed it before. It is one of those ubiquitous Christmas books, which includes not one but two novellas. The first is "The Forgetful Bride", which is the story of Cait Marshall and Joe Rockwell. When they were children (the early to mid-70s would be my guess since this story was first published in 1991), Joe and Cait's brother wanted to know what it was like to kiss a girl, so Cait agreed to let Joe kiss her as long as he married her. With Cait's brother, Martin, officiating the two tied the knot in front of all of Cait's dolls. Years later, Cait works at a brokerage firm based out of Seattle, and she believes she is in love with her oblivious boss, Paul. She hasn't seen Joe since they were kids and he moved away, but that all changes when Joe appears at the firm. He is the head of a construction company and is busy working on remodeling the office where she works. He recognizes her name and realizes that she is his childhood bride. Cait has no idea who he is, so when he announces to everyone that they are married, she's appalled and afraid that Paul, who doesn't pay her the least bit of attention, thinks that she's actually married. To her credit, it doesn't take Cait long to connect the dots and figure out who Joe is. She then decides to use Joe to make Paul jealous, which doesn't work. (There were quite a few times where I wished the guy from Sex and the City would pop up and tell her that Paul's just not that into you, but alas, in 1991 SATC did not exist outside of Candace Bushnell's imagination.) Through a rather predictable plot contrivance, the two end up spending Christmas together at his family's house--makes sense really since she helped him hop for Christmas presents. Eventually, Cait realizes that Joe is the husband that she has always wanted and in the end she gives up on an imaginary relationship with Paul for the real thing with Joe.
The second novella is "When Christmas Comes," which if you're a fan of Hallmark movies was made into a made for television movie staring Faith Ford and the guy from Ed (the bowling alley lawyer show from the late 90s). If you've seen the movie, don't be afraid to read the novella, which is much better than the movie made it appear to be. "When Christmas Comes" is very much like the movie The Holiday, which has two women exchanging houses and lives over the Christmas holiday. The main difference here is that instead of two women exchanging lives it is one woman and one man.
At the start of the book, we meet Emily Springer, a middle-aged single mother, whose daughter is attending school at Harvard. Heather, Emily's daughter, usually comes home for Christmas, but this year Heather told her mother that she couldn't come because she had to work. Emily, distraught over not being able to spend the holiday with her daughter, calls her friend, Faith, who more or less blows her off. That's when it hits Emily--she could go to Boston to surprise her daughter! She then decides to list her home on a home-swap website, and before she knows it she has made a deal to spend two weeks at the condo of Charles Brewster, American History Professor and Christmas Curmudgeon. Charles wants to escape the holidays and decides that a lovely prison town would be great. Unfortunately, he gets his Leavenworths confused and winds up in Santa's village--with a house guest, Faith! While Charles is dealing with Faith, Emily gets a house guest of her own, Charles's brother, Ray, who has come to Boston at the behest of his mother. In the end, holiday magic brings Emily and Ray and Faith and Charles together.
What I love about Debbie Macomber's Christmas books is that they're entertaining pieces of fluff--all you have to do is sit and enjoy. These are not complex stories, but they are wonderful romances. Ms. Macomber is a wiz at writing those types of stories, which is why I always try to get a hold of one of her Christmas books when they come out.