A Magical New York Christmas and Christmas By The Book

 A Magical New York Christmas by Anita Hughes

This a romance as most Christmas novels are, but it sparkles with holiday lights, glittering store front windows, skating under the stars in Central Park, and the glamour of Christmas at New York's Plaza Hotel. 

Sabrina has accepted a job offer to be a ghost writer for a famous art dealer, a job that provides a week's stay in her own suite at The Plaza with all expenses paid plus a hefty paycheck at the end. She'll be writing his stories, including his time as a butler at the Plaza to the author of her favourite books, the Eloise series.

Sabrina meets Ian at the hotel bar and though a communication mix-up believes him to be a British Lord, when in reality he's just working for that aristocrat. Ian believes Sabrina to be one of the usual guests at the hotel, wealthy and beautiful, and out of his league. 

Of course the ending is predictable, but the plot is different than any other I've read and the characters are likeable enough that you care what happens to them. Even if I hadn't enjoyed the story, being immersed in a New York Christmas would have been enough, but with a decent plot and reasonably believable characters it turned out to be quite a good seasonal read.  

Christmas by the Book by Anne Marie Ryan

I'd read a couple of really bad holiday themed novels just before I picked this one up, so it's possible I liked this simply because it wasn't as awful as the others. But it does have a lot going for it: a lovely married couple struggling to keep their bookshop open; a small English town with realistic, interesting characters; random acts of literary kindness that make a positive difference in people's lives; and through it all the Christmas theme that remains distinct, but never over-the-top.

If there are a few too many happy co-incidences and if it all leads to the predictable happy ending for everybody, the story is solid enough to make up for it and, anyway, a certain amount of sentimentality is expected and acceptable in Christmas fiction. The writing may have a few weak moments but overall it's quite well written and it was a pleasure to read.

It was much better than I went into it expecting, and I have to say that of the new Christmas stories I read this year, this one had the best plot and enough of Christmas in it to be a satisfying holiday read. It 
has earned a place on my shelf and will be read again.


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