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The Christmas Secret    by Donna VanLiere order for
Christmas Secret
by Donna VanLiere
Order:  USA  Can
St. Martin's, 2009 (2009)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Donna VanLiere, author of The Christmas Shoes and The Christmas Hope, now brings fans another inspiring holiday tale in The Christmas Secret. It's part parable, part love story, with strands of Chicken Soup for the Soul running through every chapter.

The narrator is Christine Eisley. Too proud to seek help, she struggles as a single parent of seven-year-old Zach and five-year-old Haley (her ex harrasses her constantly and refuses to pay child support). Christy works as a waitress but loses her job soon after the story opens because of babysitter problems that make her constantly late for work. But her last late day is not a typical one - Christine's delay is due to a good Samaritan act on her part as she saves the life of an older lady suffering a heart attack. Her problems are compounded when she's given notice from her landlord.

Though Christine is readily likeable, always open to helping others despite her own problems, her eventual love interest is at first unappealing. Jason Haybert, the grandson of Marshall Wilson (owner of Wilson's department store) has just lost his job as an accountant. While he waits for another opportunity to open up, his grandfather offers him temporary work at the store, something Jason considers beneath him. Marshall patiently teaches Jason to see the people around him. He also gives him the task of tracking down the young woman who helped his friend and right-hand man, Judy Luitweiler.

Jason's quest turns into a real comedy of errors when, despite their immediate mutual attraction, Christy convinces herself that he's a spy for her ex, and pretends to be someone else. When he learns her true identity, he has an important choice to make. Of course his and Christine's problems all work out by Christmas day as good folk - many who are not at all what they seem at first glance, and who are connected in surprising ways - rally around to help. The Christmas Secret is the ideal holiday read - short, sweet and very sentimental.

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