Sherryl Woodsdoes a better job with this Sweet Magnolias volume than she did with the last. This book extends beyond the original three Sweet Magnolias: Helen, Maddie and Dana Sue, to focus on their employee at the Corner Spa, Jeanette. During her three years in Serenity, Jeanette has secured her place within the Sweet Magnolias' group while remaining les than forthcoming about her pass and staying far away from any romantic involvement. When the new Town Manager, Tom McDonald arrives in town, sparks instantly occur between the two. Moreover, Tom and Jeanette find themselves the only two Ebenezer Scrooges amidst the Christmas manic town of Serenity. Woods takes chapter after chapter to move the couple two steps forward and three steps backward over and over again as the two are pulled together by chemistry and pulled apart by shadows from their pasts. Both sets of parents become involved as Woods pulls back layers and layers of generational pain and angst that serves to separate the couple. Then, boom!...the end! That's my main criticism of this volume: the end comes abruptly without the "happily ever after" of the previous three volumes. Thank goodness the only side story Woods includes in this volume concerns Marry Vaughn and her ex-husband Sonny. Here too, their story is brought along slowly, providing significant aspects for exploration, but then is rushed for a conclusion. However, the characters, and the town of Serenity, make for good reading and I am off to read Volume 5. Aren't you?