The Christmas Cookie Collection is an anthology of four brief novellas featuring characters from the Twilight, Texas series. Each novella is a "Christmas Cookie Chronicle" with the name of the featured character in the title. All of the stories are occurring in the holiday season a year after the events in The First Love Cookie Club.
The stories, in order, are titled Carrie, Raylene, Christine, and Grace, and that was also the order in which I liked them. For me, Carrie was a new character, introduced in the first book in the Twilight Texas series, The Sweethearts' Knitting Club, which I have not read. Carrie owns the town's yarn shop, and her ex-husband Mark (they married when she was 17 and he 19; it was quickly annulled) is back in town. He's the host of a reality show trying to disprove Twilight's legend about high school sweethearts. While the story is somewhat predictable, the ending still brought tears to my eyes. At 101 pages, the story is long enough to feel complete.
Raylene's story is really more about her long-lost daughter, Shannon, and Nate, a regular at Raylene's bar. This story, the longest of the four at 135 pages, and also rather predictable, does answer some questions raised in The First Love Cookie Club, which I have read. On the other hand, had I NOT read that book first, I don't think I would have appreciated this story as much.
Christine's story, at only 89 pages, needed to be fleshed out more. Christine, the owner of the Twilight Bakery, was a minor character in The First Love Cookie Club (and apparently barely mentioned in the first two books in the series), and while I appreciated learning more about her, I felt her romance with Eli moved WAY too fast, especially as he was a widower with four children and concerned about how they'd accept a new woman in his life. The story was also rather straightforward (no real interesting plot twists), and therefore somewhat boring.
With only 46 pages, the last story, Grace, felt very abbreviated. The two main characters in this story, Flynn and her husband Jesse, are also the main characters in The Sweethearts' Knitting Club, which I haven't read. If I had read it first, perhaps I would have liked this sweet little tale more. As it was: too predictable, and way too thin.
In the case of this book, I think it would be helpful to have read at least the first and third books in the regular series (The Sweethearts' Knitting Club, and The First Love Cookie Club) before reading this book. I did enjoy the references to places in and near the "real" Twilight (Granbury), Texas, such as the (now defunct) Rinky-Tink's Ice Cream Parlor, Rio Brazos Music Hall (Brazos River Music Review in the book, although it's near Glen Rose and not Jubilee/Weatherford), and the Highway 51 bridge. Still annoyed that the sheriff is named Hondo Crouch, though.
© Amanda Pape - 2014
[This e-book was borrowed from and returned to the library.]