A Very Special Christmas: Including A CHRISTMAS BRIDE and Christmas Stories from UNDER THE MISTLETOE by Mary BaloghThis is a reissue of Baloghs previously published novel A Christmas Bride and the novella collection Under the Mistletoe.
A Christmas Bride - DNF
Lifes too short to read about a childish, miserable, petty, hateful bitch, which is what this heroine was. Small wonder to find out that she was the villain in another Balogh novel, because there was absolutely nothing redeeming about her character here. Absolutely awful. My only question is, how does this novel keep getting republished??
A Family Christmas - 4 stars
Probably my favorite story of the bunch. Elizabeth and Edwin are a bit on the weak-willed side to begin with; Elizabeth is brow-beaten by her tyrant of a mother, and Edwin is still trying to figure out how to step into his irreplaceable fathers giant footsteps. They have been married less than a year and have spent even less time in each others presence, largely thanks to the heroines awful mother. Elizabeths parents have taken up residence in her husbands estate and decide to have a huge family get-together for the holidays, only none of them count on the idea of Edwin wishing to return to see his baby son for the holiday.
I really liked this story because all of the side characters were fun, and everyone banded together to take the wind out of Elizabeths mothers sails, and it was absolutely delightful to see everyone who usually cows in her presence cheerfully defy her instead. They want to have a big, cheerful, fun holiday celebration and they do, in spite of what the tyrant matriarch (attempts to) order.
Elizabeth asserts herself, and Edwin steadily holds his ground in his own house, and the two are slowly but surely reunited as a couple. It was absolutely delightful, if a bit short. Definitely a winner!
The Star of Bethlehem - 3 stars
This story really laid the schmaltz on thick, and it was a bit too sickly-sweet for my taste. The titular Star of Bethlehem refers to the engagement ring our hero gave our heroine. She loses the diamond in a pique of anger, and then casts aside the entire ring after an especially nasty fight. The ring is found by a little imp of a chimney sweep named Nicky, whom the couple rather adopts in spite of his shady habits. Nicky so comes to adore his new mistress that he has the ring fixed and presents it to her on Christmas day, after a twist of O. Henry with both the hero and the heroine trying to replace the lost ring and fumble about the symbol that it became of their relationship.
The Best Gift - 3 stars
My second favorite story of the collection. Our heroine, Jane Craggs, is an illegitimate orphan who works as a school teacher at an academy for young ladies of Quality. She has never had a Christmas celebration in her life, and foresees none in her future. Lucky for her, she is the last single person left at the school when one of the girls uncles arrives to take her to his home for Christmas. Miss Craggs takes a lot of guff from her students about being plain and austere and generally less-than, so the only person who is happy about this arrangement is the uncle himself. Then they arrive at his estate - and discover that his by-blow, Veronica, has been sent to her papa after her actress mothers untimely demise.
Jane falls head over heels in love with the little girl, and Veronica takes to Miss Jane in a similarly quick fashion. Viscount Buckley has enough of a heart that hes not willing to send his child away at Christmas, and in fact decides to indulge her in an old-fashioned celebration. He gets his niece out of the sullens by offering to let her have a Christmas party of her own, with teens her own age, and suddenly everyone is full of the Christmas spirit.
It was really nice to see these characters grow and develop. Jane understands all too well what its like to be in Veronicas place - unwanted and unloved - and she fights hard to change the Viscounts mind about ultimately sending his daughter away to be raised by a loving couple. She tells him that what his daughter needs is not financial support so much as family, and the security of knowing that someone in the world really does care about her.
The downside of this story is the idea that Buckley and Jane fall in love in 3 days and end up engaged by the end. I wouldve enjoyed this more if it had been novel-length, maybe with an after the happily-ever-after look at their marriage as they get to know each other and decide how to raise Veronica.
Playing House - 3 stars
This story had two kinds of my kryptonite: childhood friends-to-lovers and second chance romance. Lilias is the rectors daughter who falls headlong into a sweet, innocent puppy love with the second son of the Marquess, Stephen. Their lives take divergent paths as they grow older, however, and they are separated for a period of six years. Liliass parents die, leaving her with two young siblings but no money to support them; Stephen ascends to the title after the deaths of his father and elder brother. Stephen is dazzled by his title and the attention it brings, and he makes a rotten marriage who quickly disillusions him of the reasons why people fawn at his feet. Shes dead, and he rescues his daughter Dora from her parents and brings her to his home to raise himself.
Stephen is bitter and angry and sees nothing but schemes in Liliass actions, especially when she arrives at his doorstep and asks for things to make one final, wonderful Christmas for her siblings before they scatter to various relatives or - in her case - a governess position in the north. His daughter, Dora, immediately latches onto Liliass younger siblings, and she drags Stephen to their house on the regular, much preferring its warmth and coziness to the big, empty, austere manor that they live in.
Stephen and Lilias fight their attraction to one other until the bitter end, but as this is a holiday romance, they do end up together. I personally found them both a bit cold and impersonal, and Stephens constant suspicions that Lilias had ulterior motives for everything she did was really wearing after awhile. Plus, Dora was a bit of a spoiled brat. So, while heartwarming, it was ultimately meh for me.
No Room in the Inn - 3 stars
And now for something completely different :) This novel focuses on a disparate group of travellers who have been caught in a horrendous rainstorm and forced to put up at a nondescript tiny little inn. The cast of characters is quite interesting, and it was nice to see how they came together to support a young couple who were expecting a baby. The young woman goes into labor, forcing everyone to spring into action, and the birth of her child reminds the group as a whole of the true meaning of Christmas.
I enjoyed the arc of Lord and Lady Birkin, reconciling their marriage and admitting their love for each other, but I didnt as much love the idea of the the Marquess of Lytton falling for a plain-jane governess in less than 2 days, more or less because she spurned his amorous advances. I couldnt really buy that one.
There is a lot of allusion to Christianity and the traditions of the religion around the holiday in all of the shorter stories. It was a bit grating after awhile, but not a dealbreaker. This is set in the 1800s, after all, and everyone Of Quality claimed to be the right religion (whether they were or not), so this is not unexpected.
There are some explicit sex scenes in A Christmas Bride, A Family Christmas, and No Room in the Inn, but nothing gratuitous (and only one mention of a man mounting a woman, haha).
Chris Brown - This Christmas
Donny Hathaway - This Christmas Lyrics
Globally, the Grammy Award winning band has sold over million albums; consistently delivered 1 albums and Top Ten hits while performing for more than 2, concerts in over 52 countries for upwards of 35 million fans. Since , the Foundation has addressed issues that force families and individuals into economic despair and has built units of affordable housing. The Foundation expanded in October with the opening of the JBJ Soul Kitchen, which serves nutritious, culinary dishes in a restaurant atmosphere to diners who contribute either volunteer hours or a minimum donation for their meals. From December to June , Jon Bon Jovi served on the White House Council for Community Solutions, tasked with advising the President on ways to assist vulnerable youth in finding pathways to success. Thanks to the generosity of talented friends in the recording industry, the grants generated by the A Very Special Christmas albums have had an enormous impact on Special Olympics Programs around the world. Bring joy to the world with these holiday favorites — all part of the most successful benefit recording in history. Buy yours now!
This Christmas Fireside is blazing bright. We're caroling through the night. And this Christmas, will be. A very special Christmas, for me. Presents and cards are.
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On January 16, , the album was certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America for shipment of four million copies in the United States., The song gained renewed interest when it was included in on Atco Records' revised edition of their Soul Christmas compilation album  and has since become a modern Christmas standard , with the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers reporting that it was the 30th most-performed holiday song of all time.
Hang all the mistletoe I'm gonna get to know you better This Christmas And as we trim the tree How much fun it's gonna be together This Christmas. Fireside is blazing bright, We're caroling through the night And this Christmas will be A very special Christmas for me. Presents and cards are here My world is filled with cheer and you This Christmas And as I look around, Your eyes outshine the town they do This Christmas. Fireside is blazing bright We're caroling through the night And this Christmas will be A very special Christmas for me, yeah. Emm, fireside is blazing bright We're caroling through the night And this Christmas will be A very special Christmas for me, yeah. Please click here if you are not redirected within a few seconds.
The A. To record the song, the pair managed to herd dozens of chart luminaries—including George Michael, Boy George, Phil Collins, Duran Duran, and Bananarama—into the studio for a marathon hour session. But unlike many other charity projects, this one came from a deeply personal place: Iovine put together the record to honor the memory of his father, who passed away in In fact, his persuasive powers likely held just as much weight as the charitable element. The song choices from other artists, on the other hand, completely suit their style at the time.