OK, I have to admit: I was bad and I tried again to get my Christmas mind candy fix. This effort met with slightly more acceptable results than my first effort.
A Soldier For Christmas by Jillian Hart is Christian fiction. I enjoyed that aspect of the story because reading about meaningless, gratuitous sex just doesn't do it for me. Often it is used as a means of avoiding decent plot and character development.
Although A Soldier For Christmas didn't take place only during the Christmas season, that didn't bother me. I liked the sweet tenor of the story. Plotwise, the story was a little different from other romances I've read. Instead of the main characters being thrown together in questionable circumstances and suddenly falling in love, these characters had known each other in high school. So when Mitch, the male lead, walks into the Christian book store where Kelly, the female lead, works in his hometown, it isn't beyond the realm of possibility. It isn't implausable that he is there looking for a gift for his mother since he is visiting his parents.
Kelly, is dealing with issues of trust and worthiness brought on by events in her childhood. Thankfully those events had to do with being bounced from one foster home to another and having an alcoholic mother that dropped in and out of her life instead of the more heart wrenching variety of causes. She is also dealing with having lost her fiance. Thus, when Kelly is leery of a relationship, the reader isn't left scratching her head wondering why.
Mitch, comes from your "typical" family. It's his job that has kept him from seeking a wife. Again, a believable circumstance since he is a Force Recon Marine. His methodical approach to winning Kelly is also believable since I've yet to meet a Recon Marine that wasn't methodical in everything he did.
Having a military background I was a bit wary of how well the author would be able to portray a Force Recon Marine. I was pleasantly surprised. The author doesn't go into a lot of detail, which is probably a good thing since the author has no real experience with Force Recon. However, don't let that fool you. She uses enough detail to tell the story.
The end felt a bit rushed, but let's face it: This is a romance; you know they're going to get together. So, perhaps it is rushed, but who cares? I was reading this for fun and because it had my favorite branch of service in it.
All in all, I'd give this 4 out of 5 stars. But I'm biased. The fact that a Marine featured in the leading male role assured this book of a good review. However, the author's careful handling of Kelly's issues helped a lot, too. And portraying Mitch as something other than a gung-ho womanizer certainly scored points for the book.
So, if you're looking for a good weekend read, read this book. If you're looking for something more substantial, consider the book I'm reading now: My Men Are My Heroes: The Brad Kasal Story as told to Nathaniel R. Helms. Whether you agree with the current military action in Iraq or not, you can't deny that our men and women of the armed forces give up a lot for us to sit here and debate the ethics of this war; some even pay the ultimate price. Reading Mr. Kasal's first hand account of the fight for Fullujah and his fight for his life afterward certainly puts it in perspective.