Carrie Weston thinks her new neighbor, Philip Lark is pretty handsome, but he doesn't seem the least bit interested in her. However, his matchmaking thirteen-year-old daughter, Mackenzie, thinks Carrie is awesome and would make a great new wife for her closed-off dad. Having pulled a similar stunt with her own mom and step-dad when she was a teen, Carrie warns Mackenzie to stay out of her dad's love life, but the girl can't seem to take no for an answer. Philip was badly hurt when his ex-wife left him years ago and has all but sworn off women, but when his daughter keeps bringing him and Carrie together, he finds that his attraction to his pretty neighbor may be too strong to resist.
Silver Bells is the final, wrap-up novella for Debbie Macomber's Those Manning Men series. Before I started reading it, I wondered who this story was about as all the Mannings had already found their HEAs. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the heroine is Carrie Weston, the daughter of Charlotte and step-daughter of Jason (Bride on the Loose). In their book, she'd been the meddling, matchmaking teen who brought her mom and step-dad together. Now, in her own story, Carri gets a taste of her own medicine as the daughter of a divorced man who lives in the same apartment building decides to do a little meddling of her own in her dad's love life.
Carrie is a fun and free-spirited young woman who has been rather attracted to her neighbor since he moved in. She's kind-hearted toward everyone, even the other tenants who are an odd, eccentric bunch. She willingly helps one of them by going out to feed the stray cats in the neighborhood for which the other woman normally cares. She also barely bats an eyelash at taking Philip's thirteen-year-old daughter under her wing along with her two little brothers, baking cookies and just having fun together. Carrie is an all-around great girl who would be impossible not to like, and much to his chagrin, Philip feels the same way. After a messy divorce, he's still pretty gun-shy around women. He's not really looking to get involved with anyone until his daughter pushes him and Carrie together. Then he can't ignore his pretty neighbor anymore, and reluctantly comes around to realizing she's perfect for both him and Mackenzie.
I'd say the one weakness in this novella is that it was a little too short to fully develop the characters and their romance. Their feelings for one another come about pretty quickly, perhaps a little too quickly to be entirely believable. That's mostly been the case with all the stories in this series, but with the others there were a few more pages to make that all-important connection. Here I didn't feel it quite as palpably, and there were a few moments of telling rather than showing. However, for a short, holiday-themed novella it wasn't bad, and it was nice to read about another Manning celebration. These people know how to throw a party where everyone feels welcome. Overall, I thought Silver Bells was a nice wrap-up to the series. It can be found in the anthology, That Holiday Feeling.
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