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This looked like a great way to try out some new authors. Keep in mind that some authors can move with ease between short stories and full novels, while others can't.
Rendezvous (Elaine Barbieri) I was particularly interested in reading this short tale because I've been seeing this author's name so much. Although the author clearly dated the piece in Wyoming Territory during 1871, I had to check back two or three times to make sure. Jayne seemed very modern (groping a man, etc.). Some of the behaviors of the other characters seemed too modern for the time.
This is an interesting plot that went fizzle. A young woman (Cricket) has been searching (for a year) for a childhood friend and almost dies in a blizzard. When Cricket finds Whittaker, he is engaged to be married. Cricket and Whittaker are transplanted Georgians (after the Civil War).
This story was the weakest of the bunch; readers know what is going to happen all along the road.
The Wolf and the Lamb (Kathleen Eagle) This is a treasure. Most books about Christmas beat the reader over the head with the season, traditions and the message. This was extremely subtle ... and most enjoyable. I loved this story.
Emily Lambert, 30-ish, is on her way to meet the stranger she has married by proxy. Wolf, a Metis Indian, helps her find the farm when no one comes for her at the stagecoach station.
What Emily finds there shatters her dreams; with no real choice, she starts on an odyssey.
Christmas in the Valley (Margaret Moore) The most beautiful woman in the valley (Kitty Maude) marries a Welsh miner (Gareth Williams) on one condition: He must give up the mine work.
It is a year after their marriage and Gareth still works in the dangerous mines. Kitty Maude tells Gareth that she is leaving him. Just as the train arrives, there is a blast from the mine -- men are left down below.
This is a tension-filled story; but it is unbelievable that a woman would be allowed to go into the mine and dig for her husband.
Keeping Christmas (Patricia Gardner Evans) This is the second winner in the bunch. A seamstress, Karin, who travels from farm-to-farm, sewing clothes for families that need her skills, arrives at a farm with a hostile rancher and two children from the Orphan Train. This is a beautifully-told story.
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