Coming Home for Christmas: A Christmas in ParadiseO Christmas TreeNo Crib for a Bed

Coming Home for Christmas: A Christmas in ParadiseO Christmas TreeNo Crib for a Bed - Carla Kelly This was a surprisingly underwhelming collection from the usually quite reliable Carla Kelly. I'm rounding up to three stars for the book, but it's a weak three. The one major plus is has going for it is that two of the three stories are told exclusively from the hero's POV, which is quite unusual for romance.A Christmas in Paradise - 2*A marriage of convenience story that's short on romance and long on details of early 19th century doctoring. It's told from the British Navy hero's POV as he spends another year away from his family in Scotland stuck at a Spanish garrison in California in 1812. As the story spends most of its time following him as he tends to a dying tuberculosis patient and scores of earthquake victims, the fact that he marries the daughter of a disgraced Spanish official to save her from homelessness is almost an afterthought. Little light is shown on her character or personality beyond "pretty," which is made an even more glaring oversight in the face of the rich personality Kelly gave to the tuberculosis patient. As a result, the romance is treated as a matter of fact, depriving the reader of the joy of watching a romance develop.O Christmas Tree - 2*I was pretty high when I read this one, but I'm pretty sure it wasn't the weed making it a convoluted head-scratcher. It's told from the heroine's POV this time as she's serving as one of Florence Nightingale's nurses in the Crimean War. I found it pretty impossible to buy into the premise of this one. She's a widowed upper-class mother of a young son who leaves her child with her parents, the couple from the previous story, to set off for the Crimea. The exposition points out that she used her late husband's influential contacts to get Nightingale to accept her...then has the heroine lamenting that she's been stuck here three long years waiting for permission to go home. Permission other women were granted. Influential contacts only work one way? While I liked the romance more in this story - he's a shy beta sort and this was a friends-to-lovers sort of story - their cute banter and warm sexual tension got lost in the plot noise. There's a fire, a friendly matchmaking sultan and a sultan's wife who gets a wig made of the heroine's hair. I still can't really make sense of it.No Crib For a Bed - 3*I thought this was the strongest of the three stories. It's told from the POV of the hero, the son of the last story's heroine, who's on his way home to Philadelphia from his position as Army surgeon at Fort Laramie. He's riding the train with his friend the heroine, who's father is the fort's hospital administrator, and a white woman who's been "rescued" from a Cheyenne reservation to be reunited with family in Iowa. The hero's also on his way to marry his longtime fiancee who he hasn't seen in a few years.Along the eventful train trip home - he delivers an infant in a bloody delivery the mother doesn't survive, he reunites the white Indian woman with her family, the heroine and he take a shine to the orphaned infant - he takes stock of his life and realizes that not only is he in love with the heroine, but his privileged, Philadelphia life isn't for him anymore. He needs the intelligent, capable nurse heroine as a companion in a purposeful life rather than a pretty, ornamental wife in a comfortable life. Everything in the story ties into this realization and character growth, making it the most coherent of the three by far. A too-neat ending keeps it from being a great story.