cover image A Texas Kind of Christmas

A Texas Kind of Christmas

Jodi Thomas, Celia Bonaduce, and Rachael Miles. Kensington, $15.95 trade paper (

These three novellas, connected by the 1859 Christmas Eve ball at Dallas’s St. Nicholas Hotel, are uneven tales of frontier romance. Thomas opens the anthology with “One Night at the St. Nicholas,” a jam-packed story of instant love between unlikely partners. Jacqueline, an heiress, falls not for any of the eligible gentlemen wooing her but for a Northern actor on the run from the law. Cody, a war hero, mistakes Jacqueline for a servant with a traumatic past, and his heart softens. Though the many plot twists might better suit a longer form, this is the most gripping of the stories. Bonaduce’s “Birdie’s Flight” introduces Birdie, a seamstress altering a ball gown for spoiled but spirited Charlotte, who flirts with the sheriff despite her father’s wish for her to marry handsome Captain Newcastle, Birdie’s crush. Through a series of coincidences, Birdie gets to go to the ball and find her happily ever after, but not before her past catches up with her. Miles’s “Spirit of Texas” best evokes time and place as a ranger with a way with words escorts bookish Eugenie across the Texas wilderness. Though the trip bonds them, their connection is tested when they arrive in Dallas and must face society. The moments of connection between the stories will keep readers invested, but the history of the woman behind the real-life St. Nicholas Hotel, as related in the endnotes, is more interesting than any of the novellas. (Nov.)