Strong, independent businesswoman, Mirabella Waskowitz, is single and eight months pregnant by choice. Her father has just had a heart attack, and desperate to visit him over the holiday season but not able to get a plane ticket on such short notice, Mirabella decides to drive cross country from L.A. to Pensacola, Florida. With all the frequent bathroom breaks and terrible backaches, it's turning out to be a very inconvenient and uncomfortable trip, but Mirabella is determined to make it there by Christmas day. That is until a freak snowstorm closes down the highway through the Texas panhandle leaving Bella stranded in New Mexico with no place to stay because of all the other travelers in the same boat. Bella was about to despair of even getting a seat at the truck stop cafe until she spotted one across from the handsome young truck driver that she had briefly met earlier in the day at another stop. Desperate to get off her feet, Mirabella asks to share his booth, and being a complete gentleman, he is more than happy to let her.
Jimmy Joe Starr is a long-haul trucker who has been working on building his own transport company. He is a single father with an eight-year-old son and a close-knit supportive family back home in Georgia. From the moment Jimmy Joe met Mirabella, he was dazzled by her beauty and amused by her uppity attitude. When she asks to share his table, he sees the exhaustion and pain on her face and instead offers her the sleeper in the back of his truck, so she can rest. Even though Mirabella is reluctant to rely on a man for anything, she accepts Jimmy Joe's offer, and he considerately watches over her through the night. By morning, the roads have been reopened and both continue on their way, but can't stop thinking about each other. When Mirabella's water suddenly breaks, she is so shocked that she ends up plowing her car into a snowbank. As calls go out on the CB radio about a pregnant woman stranded on the side of the road, Jimmy Joe is certain that it is Bella and takes a big risk in all the snow and ice to stop and pick her up. Traffic towards Amarillo is moving at a crawl due to poor road conditions, and when Mirabella tells Jimmy Joe that she's in labor and probably won't make it there, he decides to pull off the road into a deserted rest area. Tenderly and patiently, Jimmy Joe cares for Bella and assists her in giving birth to her baby, but when rescuers are finally able to reach them, he can barely stand the thought of leaving them both. Mirabella has become attached to Jimmy Joe too, but she's not sure how two people who are so different can ever make a life together.
One Christmas Knight is a sweet, gentle romance that was analogous to the biblical story of Mary and Joseph. It features an "immaculate" conception and a heroine who is stranded by a snowstorm in a town filled with other travelers and "no room at the inn." Ultimately, she gives birth on Christmas night in the back of a semi-truck named The Blue Starr with no one to help but the hero. This was yet another of the love-at-first-sight stories that seem to be so common in the romances I've read, but at least the author created a credible emotional bond between the characters by having them share a rather extraordinary experience together. Afterward, they separated for a little while, giving them both a chance to make sure that their feeling for each other were real, and not just the result of an emotional high. These things made the story somewhat more believable to me. The book had lots of descriptive passages and introspection on the part of both Mirabella and Jimmy Joe which made the narrative move at a languid but steady pace. I think the pace could have been picked up a bit, perhaps with the inclusion of a little more dialog, and it might have been nice if the couple would have had a little more interaction and "getting-to-know-you" time following the big event before committing to a lifetime together, but overall, I don't really have any major complaints about the storytelling.
The hero, Jimmy Joe was really the best part of One Christmas Knight. He certainly was a "knight in shining armor," a sweet, sensitive beta hero who was also a perfect Southern gentleman. I liked him so much it made me want to make a trip down south to see what I've been missing.;-) Jimmy Joe was a devoted single father who had know the pain of loss in his life which made him very sympathetic. His career as a long-haul truck driver and all the fun trucker lingo brought back fond memories of a kind truck driver who "rescued" my mother and I many years ago when our car was stranded by the side of the same highway in the story, and I also have an uncle who used to be in that same line of work. I think having had these experiences in my life made Jimmy Joe seem more real to me, but it was truly just his charming nature, patience, gentleness and intuitiveness with Mirabella that made him irresistible to me.
On the other hand, I wasn't quite as quick to warm up to Mirabella. It wasn't that I actually disliked her, but I can't say that I enthusiastically liked her either. I think it was just that she was a little too stubborn and independent for my taste, often acting like she absolutely didn't need a man in her life at all. I'm fine with career-minded women who wait until later in life for relationships and family. In fact, I thought that Bella wanting to wait for Mr. Right (but never finding him) was admirable, but what bothered me about her was that she seemed to need to be in control too much. It was in the moments when she was able to let go and be a little bit vulnerable, when Jimmy Joe was able to break through her barriers, that I liked her more. Also, for such an obstinate woman she seemed to say, "I can't" a little too often, which is something that Jimmy Joe humorously pointed out to her at one point. In the end, I still thought that Mirabella and Jimmy Joe were as different as oil and water. It was difficult to see how they were going to "mix," but I guess opposites attract all the time. I just usually like my heroes and heroines to have a bit more in common, though I'll have to say that readers who enjoy May-December romances with an older heroine should like this one.
One Christmas Knight is the first book in The Sisters Waskowitz series. It introduces Mirabella's best friend, Charly, who becomes the heroine of the next book, One More Knight, in which she is paired with Troy Starr, who I think may be one of Jimmy Joe's brothers, though I don't believe he was mentioned by name in this book. Also, Mirabella's two sisters, Sommer and Eve, the heroines of the other two books in the series, One Summer's Knight and Eve's Wedding Knight, receive a brief mention. In addition, One Christmas Knight spawned a spin-off series, The Starrs of the West, which features other members of Jimmy Joe's family as heroes and heroines. One Christmas Knight was a light, easy novel that was a nice way to wrap up my holiday reading. It was my first book by Kathleen Creighton, and I liked it well enough to explore other books from both series in the future.
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