Christmas Bequest by Barbara Miller


Christmas Bequest by Barbara Miller
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Genre: Historical, Holiday
Length: Short Story (56 pages)
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fennel

The shocking news comes right before Christmas—Patience Mayhew’s beloved brother Jack was lost in the Battle of Nivelle. Since his son is but a toddler, Jack left his estate in trust to his best friend Stuart—the man who, years ago, broke Patience’s heart.

Stuart Marsh is just as shocked as Patience at Jack’s bequest. How can he possibly run Heatherfield when Jack’s widow resents him and sister detests him? But as he settles in and sees how much work Heatherfield needs, he realizes it’s his chance to prove himself to Patience all over again. He wants nothing more than to lift the burden from her shoulders and prove that Christmas miracles exist—and that love, real love, never truly fades away.

In Christmas Bequest, Ms. Miller offers laughter and tears, despair and hope, anger and joy and a burgeoning love in the middle of grief. In other words, the author offers up everything and still manages not to leave this reader feeling overwhelmed.

The story of Patience’s added burdens due to the loss of her brother, her mother’s inability to curb her expenses and her sister-in-law’s apparent indifference is skilfully crafted. In such a short story Miss Miller has created depth of character, intrigue and misdirection. They are irritating family members in abundance and the hero’s ability to turn a potentially explosive situation are all interwoven with balance and perception.

I soon become clear there are plenty of family conflicts, both above and below the surface of this grieving family, and yet there is so much more. Ms. Miller takes each member of her cast and changes them completely by the time the reader turns the final page.

The only character that did not seem to fit the disposition preset for him was Lucinda’s brother. He did not live up to the reputation prescribed to him, which slightly confused me.

This story is set in the few days before and after Christmas and deals with the way each member of the family deal with the revelations that are exposed. Not only does each character change significantly, but Ms. Miller offers plausible reason for how these changes take place and why. To manage this in less than sixty pages take skill, and Ms. Miller appears to do it with ease, which of course is all part of her skilful writing abilities.

This is first Miller book I’ve read, but I’ll but looking out for more in the future.

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