Annie MacKenzie is a sometimes visitor to Virgin River. Deciding to take a side trip after visiting her parents to see the town's famous Christmas tree, she stops by just in time for little David Sheridan's discovery of a box of abandoned puppies underneath the tree. Unable to bear the idea of taking them to a shelter, she asks Jack to keep them at the bar temporarily and offers to comes back every evening after work to help take care of them, but she didn't expect to fall for the scrumptious local vet.
Nathaniel Jensen is actually a large-animal vet, and only stopped by to look at the puppies as a favor to Jack. He's not really intending to get too involved in their care, but the beautiful, lively young woman looking after them, stirs his interest. Soon he finds himself pouring every ounce of charm he has into wooing her, and before long, he's completely rethinking his plan of spending the holidays in the Bahamas.
A hot veterinarian, a kind-hearted, Christmas and animal loving beautician, and a litter of eight abandoned newborn puppies combine to make Under the Christmas Tree another heartwarming holiday story in Robyn Carr's Virgin River series. Not that I'm complaining or anything, but most of the books in this series have some fairly heavy themes, so it was a nice change of pace to relax and unwind with a fun, lighthearted story that didn't contain any real angst. It also marked the first time in the series that one of the main characters wasn't a former service member.
Annie is an occasional visitor to Virgin River. She stopped by to see their famous Christmas tree and was just in time to witness the discovery of a box of abandoned puppies underneath it. Annie is a caring animal lover and couldn't bear to see the puppies taken to a shelter, so she generously offered to come back every evening after work to help take care of them. Most people wouldn't be nearly so committed, but Annie worked tirelessly to ensure the puppies well-being until she could find homes for them. She's also a big family person, who loves spending the holidays with her parents and siblings, and loves Christmas in general. The way she's always helping her mom bake or decorating for the holidays is something I admire and wish I had the time and patience for. Throughout all this mayhem, Annie gets reacquainted with Nathaniel, someone she knew as a kid, but she recently had her heart broken by a philandering ex and isn't quite sure if she can trust Nate.
Nathaniel lives in the area and is a large-animal vet. When Jack calls him about the puppies, he comes to the bar as a favor but doesn't intend to get too involved until he sees Annie. Nate remembers her as a gangly, freckled-faced girl with a mop of curly, orange-red hair and braces. Needless to say, they've both changed a lot, and Nate quickly finds himself wanting to get to know her again. Nate is a consummate charmer, who is slightly cocky and self-assured, but in an endearing way. He had intended to spend Christmas in the Bahamas with his vet school friends, but finding Annie makes him start to rethink his plan.
There was much to enjoy about this novella, not the least of which are the puppies and the wonderful sense of Christmas cheer. I also liked that instead of falling right into bed with one another, Nate and Annie have some leisurely make-out sessions while taking their time getting to know one another. It was fun to see Jack, Preacher, their sons, Christopher and David, and some of the other Virgin River residents rounding out the cast. Overall, Under the Christmas Tree was another short story from the anthology, That Holiday Feeling, which left me with a warm, fuzzy feeling and really put me in the mood for Christmas.
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