Silent Night
J.D. Robb
Susan Plunkett
Dee Holmes
Claire Cross


Brought to you by OBS reviewer Heidi

Silent Night is marketed as a Christmas anthology, boasting the highlight as J.D. Robb’s In Death novella, Midnight in Death.  I’m not a big fan of short stories, but decided to go ahead and give it a read so that I could keep my In Death series going in order.

I found it kind of annoying when I look at the cover and read the blurb on the back that each story is listed in the opposite order than it actually appears in the book.  So I’ll break down each story…in the order it appears in the book.

A Berry Merry Christmas
By Claire Cross
Author’s Website:

This is a cute little story to get you in the mood for the holidays and in the Christmas spirit, if of course you were reading it around Christmas.

Bachelor Drew Sinclair’s life completely changes one Christmas when his brother’s house catches on fire and burns to the ground.  The only survivor of the fire is Drew’s niece, Natalie, and Drew takes over as her caretaker.

Two years after the fire Drew and Natalie are still grieving and refuse to celebrate Christmas, although Natalie wants to.  She writes Santa asking for a new mommy for Christmas.

Holly Berry is one of Santa’s elves that can’t seem to do anything right.  Santa decides to send her to Toronto to help prepare Drew to be able to accept a wife to make Natalie’s wish come true.  Santa tells Holly that Katherine O’Neil wants to marry Drew and he is sending Holly to be Natalie’s new nanny and to pave the way for Katherine.

Holly quickly takes to Drew and Natalie and them to her.  She discovers that she doesn’t like Katherine (she has a Cruella DeVille quality to her) and either does Drew and Natalie, but Holly still tries to do what she must to get Katherine and Drew together.  But Drew only has eyes for Holly and she feels the same, which leads her to ask for her own Christmas wish; to be mortal so she can stay with Natalie and Drew.

Overall this story was cute and reminiscent of all the made for TV movies you see playing around Christmas.  A family that had Christmas ruined for them for what they thought was forever and then out of nowhere a magical elf returns the spirit of the holidays to them.

There were a few little things that drove me crazy in this one.   The punctuation drove me nuts as I felt the author overused the exclamation point.  And the names….when I read the elf’s name was Holly Berry, I actually rolled my eyes and groaned inwardly because it was so corny and then I started thinking about Halle Berry.  My other name issue I had was that Santa’s first name was Noel.  Where the heck did that come from?  I’ve seen Nick for Old St. Nick, and I’ve seen Chris for Chris Kringle, but never Noel and I really didn’t like it…maybe they were going for Father Noel??  But these little quirks of mine were not enough to make me dislike the story as it probably was the best in the book.

The Unexpected Gift
By Dee Holmes
Author’s Website:

Recently divorced Sabrina is trying to make a special Christmas for her son, when he finds a man passed out in their yard.  The man turns out to be one of Sabrina’s ex-boyfriends and she decides she wants to rekindle what they once had.

This is the shortest story in the book and was pretty mundane and Sabrina just looked like a desperate divorcé trying to get laid.  When she finally succeeds the tale is pretty much over.  This story has been written countless times and there was nothing special about this rendition of it. And really if one of my exes was passed out in my yard after a drinking binge, it would not make me want to sleep with him…just saying.

The synopsis says that the characters in this book unexpectedly “rediscover the true spirit of the holidays,” but I really just didn’t see it.

Christmas Promises
By Susan Plunkett

Marne has agreed to go to a family Christmas after not going for several years.  She’s expecting her ex-fiancé’s sister to come pick her up and is surprised when her ex, Jake, shows up instead.  He never understood why she dumped him and never quit loving her.  He vows to win her back.

But she gets an urgent phone call before they have a chance to leave.  A girl she has been helping get out of an abusive marriage, Angela, has been beaten by her ex, Julian.  She had put her daughter out the window during the attack and now needs Marne to find her before the abusive ex does.  Also, Julian has promised to kill Marne before Christmas.

Jake goes with Marne back to the rough streets he grew up on and they find Clarissa and return her to her mother.

When they try to leave again Marne gets a tip that Julian has been spotted and is looking for her.  She decides they need to set up a sting with the police to stop him.  Julian is smarter than the cops and gets to Marnie, but Jake saves her just in time.

There was something about the writing that I just didn’t care for and I had a hard time getting interested in it or connecting with the characters at all, not to mention the story was pretty predictable.  Also, I found Jake being both a former Navy Seal and an FBI officer a little over the top and unrealistic.

And on to the finale…

Midnight in Death
In Death, Book #7.5
By J.D. Robb
Author’s Website:

Eve has just solved the case from the last book, Holiday in Death, and is trying to make the best of her first Christmas with her husband, Roarke, but is called in on Christmas morning to a body that was dumped in the center of the ice rink at Rockefeller Center.  She recognizes the work as David Palmer’s, a man she locked up several years ago and the deceased just happens to be the judge that had tried him.  A quick search proves her theory as David Palmer had escaped the mental facility he was being kept at off-planet.  Palmer left a list with his victim of all his intended targets and Eve was on that list.

This story was a typical In Death book only made shorter, taking out the sex scenes and some of the conversations between Eve and her loved ones and coworkers that are in most of the books of the series.

The story was OK, but I really miss the loving and touching moments between her and Roarke that I’ve grown to love and expect.  The climatic confrontation at the end wasn’t nearly as exciting as usual and I can’t wait to go back to reading the full-feature novels that won’t skimp on the details.

Overall Thoughts:

This book was kind of dull to me as a whole and the storylines were pretty shallow and none of them really go into great detail.   A Berry Merry Christmas and Midnight in Death were the only two stories that really fit into Open Book Society’s genre as the other two had nothing paranormal, magical or strange going on.  And the only one that really felt like a Christmas story to me was A Berry Merry Christmas.  The others didn’t really seem to fit into a Christmas anthology at all; they were just normal stories that just happened to take place around Dec 25th.

If you’re looking for a great anthology to get you in the spirit for the upcoming holiday season, I’d keep looking…