My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Burning Bright: Four Chanukah Love Stories, is out in ebook, just in time for the holiday:
“Miracle” by Megan Hart—This sweet tale touches on a little known issue, very religious Jews who go “off the derech”, leaving their strictly observant communities for the wider world. It’s a difficult adjustment for Ben Schneider, but he finds his neighbor Amanda willing to help him navigate through new customs and traditions as she shows him her Chanukah celebration of helping her neighbors experience the holidays with joy.
“A Dose of Gelt” by Jennifer Gracen—“Gelt” is money, the traditional Chanukah gift, symbolized by foil wrapped chocolate coins. Evan Sontag and Shari Cohen have so much in common and such a great relationship that when Evan brings Shari to his family’s annual Chanukah party, there’s discussion of when they’re setting a date. Honestly, Evan, if you didn’t think that was going to happen at the family gathering—with your grandmother—you haven’t been paying attention. He flips out, because as a family law attorney he’s seen too many marriages end up on the rocks and he doesn’t think marriage is for him. Now he has to win back Shari, the woman he realizes he can’t live without. It helps that there are eight days of Chanukah with which to offer heart-felt gifts...and his heart, too.
“Home for Chanukah” by Stacey Agdern—Jon Adelman travels the country producing modern Jewish music, discovering and promoting artists who fuse tradition with current sounds. It’s a busy life which doesn’t leave him any time to make his apartment into a home. When his neighbor, designer Molly Baker-Stein, sees his folding chair, futon and card table living arrangements, she’s horrified. For Chanukah she’s going to help Jon have the living space he deserves…and things go terribly wrong. It’s going to take a Chanukah miracle (and help from both sides of the family—do you see a trend in these stories?) to get them back together and appreciating one another.
“All I Got” by KK Hendin moves the action across the Atlantic. Modern Orthodox Tamar is taking a winter break from college to eat sufganiyot in Israel, apartment sit for a friend from their girls’ seminary year, and flirt with cute soldiers at bus stops. She’s particularly charmed by Avi, with his sweet smile and Southern accent, but she knows it can’t go anywhere because she’ll return to the States after the holiday. This story is peppered with a lot of “Henglish”, Hebrew/English mixed conversation, but the tale is universal as lovers try to connect, each knowing their lives are separated by an ocean.
There's a push in romance writing for more diverse stories, and a new collection from a major publisher celebrating a holiday other than Christmas is a lovely treat!
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