by Greg Kincaid
Synopsis: From the New York Times bestselling author of A Dog Named Christmas comes this heartwarming Christmas story about the power of family and the strength and love that comes from our pets.
In this installment of the poignant stories of the McCray family and their lovable canines in rural Kansas, matriarch Mary Ann McCray is determined to shake up Christmas by accepting the role as Crossing Trail’s first woman Santa Claus. Mary Ann, always a bit of a rebel, is looking to offer a more progressive voice in the staunchly conservative town at Christmastime and has a few ideas up her red velvet sleeves.
My Review: Noelle is another book about the McCray family, their lives and their dogs. This book has several storylines running parallel to one another, but they all come together in a wonderful conclusion.
Elle is a dog that Todd rescued shortly after its birth. She is part retriever but the father is unknown. Elle is young, feisty, loving and has a mind of her own. It seems that she hears, “no Elle” all the time. Todd is trying to train her to be a service dog, but he is not having much luck. In fact, this it the first dog that he has been unable to train. The second story is about Todd and Laura. Todd is the McCray’s son and has worked with animals all his life. He has a developmental delay, but this does not stop him from working, falling in love and being a wonderful person. His parents supported him and pushed him so that he would be able to overcome his difficulties. Todd and Laura have moved in together and Todd is afraid to tell his parents. The next plot line is about Mary Ann McCray. She was trying to support her friend who was going to be snubbed as Santa this year and argued that it was all about looks. The next thing you know, Mary Ann has been offered the job of Anna Claus. Little does Mary Ann know just how much of a stir this idea of hers will cause when she goes out to schools, malls, centers, etc., meeting children, with a newly revised Christmas message about what they want to give for Christmas. Finally, there is the story of Abby’s and Link’s marriage and divorce. Link has no job and has become an alcoholic. How will they deal with the situation and how it will affect their children.
This story is full of interesting characters and stories. The Christmas message it brings rings true to the spirit of the season. I thoroughly enjoyed the role the dogs played in the story, helping to bring the plot lines together with a fun twist. Of course Elle’s name changes partway through the book to Noelle, which is a natural progression for this troublesome but adorable dog. The book is also filled with Christmas celebrations, traditions, and feelings. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas reading this book. I recommend it to all dog lovers, those who love Christmas, as well as any reader who enjoys a good, solid, family story with a happy ending. The publisher generously provided me with a copy of this book via Netgalley.