Friday, November 11, 2011

The Twilight Before Christmas by Christine Feehan

Bestselling novelist Kate Drake is one of seven sisters gifted with amazing powers of witchcraft. Returning home in time for her northern California town's annual Christmas pageant, Kate catches the spirit of the season and decides to open a bookstore in a charming but run-down historic mill. Decorated former U.S. Army Ranger Matt Granite, now a local contractor, doesn't mind working in the undeniably eerie house -- not if it means getting closer to Kate. There's something about the quiet, sensual woman that powerfully attracts him.

When an earthquake cracks the mill's foundation and reveals a burial crypt, Kate senses that a centuries-old evil has been unleashed and that it's coming after her. Though Matt vows to guard her from dusk till dawn, Kate knows she will have to summon all of her and her sisters' powers to battle the darkness threatening to destroy both Christmas and the gift of soul-searing passion her hometown hero wants her to keep forever....

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Ms. Feehan has done a great job in this book of capturing the feeling of Christmastime in a small town, and that mood provides a nice, comforting background to a story that weaves together events from Sea Harbor's past that are now impacting the present. Even as the tension mounts as the attacks from the being in the fog increase, still the characters, Kate in particular, are able to take refuge in the good feelings present at Christmastime and concentrate on them for awhile when they need a break from the fear and stress the creature brings with it. The story of what and who the being is, what happened to him, and why he's terrorizing those in the present is artfully unfolded bit by bit throughout the book, rather like opening a present that someone has nested box within box to prolong the suspense (and enjoyment?) of unwrapping it to find out what it is.

Woven alongside the more terrifying tale is the more heartwarming (and often sizzling) tale of Kate and Matt finally coming together as a couple after secretly longing after one another in secret for years. There are few surprises to their tale, and no real conflict to speak of between them aside from Kate's insecurities that hold her back, but the external conflict they face makes up for the lack of romantic strife. In addition to Kate and Matt's story, we also get foreshadowings of who some of the other sisters will end up with eventually most likely, thus whetting the reader's appetite to read more about the Drakes. All in all, a wonderful book to curl up with by a warm fire crackling away in a fireplace on a cold winter night, and a nice way to start to get into the Christmas spirit if the time and your own beliefs are right for it.

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