Colors of Christmas: Two Contemporary Stories Celebrate the Hope of Christmas by Olivia Newport

My Review

WOW! I’m not sure what I expected when given the opportunity to review Colors of Christmas, by Olivia Newport. I should have realized, after reading the author’s note, in the beginning, a small foreshadowing of something bringing a lot of emotion to the table, but in an endearing, asseverate way.

I’m always a little leery when I have a chance to review a new-to-me author. It’s terrible I know, but I, like many reviewers, fall into the rut of sticking to their faves. This year, however, I’ve branched out and found a lot of new authors I sincerely like. Olivia Newport is one of them.

Colors of Christmas contains two separate novellas. Each novella deals with loss, but in uniquely different ways.

Christmas in Gold, the first story, introduces us to Astrid, an eighty-year-old woman moving from her home to an independent living home. As Astrid’s lifetime vividly comes to life on the pages of this incredible story, we feel, hear and experience her childhood and early adulthood. First, she survived the Nazi domination of Germany, then she formed a new history in the United States. Time stood still for me as I was thoroughly wrapped up in the story, to the point of just a moment of startlement when I was called out of the book to attend to another matter! Christmas in Gold is a heart-warming, faith-affirming tale; you’ll undoubtedly want to read it.

Christmas in Blue deals with Angela’s heartache and loss of her best friend, Carole. Carole of the larger than expression, full-on celebration of Christmas. All Angela wants to do is magically jump past the holiday season and get on with trying to live without Carole, but everything seems to conspire against her deepest desires. I don’t want to tell too much, because of spoilers, but Angela’s Christmas far surpasses anything she could dream or imagine.

Newport somehow takes two small vignettes, and without making them feel overcrowded or rushed, beautifully portrays two very different and unique perspectives. All while dropping satisfying tidbits of faith, comfort, and joy. I am sincerely looking forward to reading more of her stories as I truly enjoyed her novellas.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Celebrate the joyful hope of the Christmas season as characters find healing in the midst of heartbreak.

Christmas in Blue

In the wake of a personal loss deeper than anyone realizes, Angela plans to bypass as much of the season as possible and get through her duties as the church organist by going on autopilot. Instead, she finds herself in charge of the town’s celebration. After a mysterious young man arrives, townspeople suspect he is the reason that one set of plans after another disintegrate until little is left of their traditions. Yet Angela warms to Gabe because she suspects they share a secret—his real reason for coming to town. Even when all they have to work with is a garish supply of blue Christmas decorations, Gabe helps Angela discover the hidden beauty of hope.

Christmas in Gold

After eighty years, change is nothing new for Astrid. By the time she was twenty, she survived the destructive Nazi regime, caring for her family under brutal circumstances, moving to America, and losing her husband. At forty she was widowed again and left to build a new life with her children. Now, when she faces a move into an assisted living community and meets a young woman on the brink of despair, she resolves to stir up hope through tragedy one more time.

 

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To Gain a Bodyguard (Gaining Love Series, #3) by Tanya Eavenson

My Review

Life is hectic for agents Madi Reynolds and Brice Johnson. When you throw in Madi’s brother’s wedding (scheduled around Christmas no less), Brice’s struggle with PTSD, issues concerning human trafficking and then top it all off by a threat on Madi’s life, then things go from hectic to frenetic in no time! To Gain a Bodyguard introduces us to the two ICE (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) agents with feelings for each other. Both are afraid to show, or even admit to themselves, for a myriad of reasons, their true feelings.

Tanya Eavenson always manages to pack a lot into her novellas, and she does so again this time. Yet, you don’t feel lost or bewildered in the short story. There are many endearing moments, along with some scary situations. I began to care about each of the main characters, riding on a roller-coaster of emotions with them, hoping things would turn out well for everyone. I also appreciated the strength they drew from their faith. There’s a slight cliff-hanger at the end, leaving me with the hope that this isn’t the last we’ll see of Madi and Brice!

I was delighted to be able to catch up with Amabelle and Patrick too, whom we met in Eavenson’s previous books, To Gain a Mommy and To Gain a Valentine. Don’t worry if you haven’t read either of them, as each story stands alone.

If you are looking for a short, atypical romance story, then look no further than To Gain a Bodyguard, (Gaining Love Series, #3) by Tanya Eavenson.  (It is also part of the upcoming box set of Christmas romance novellas, titled Winter’s Kiss by multiple authors).

I received this book from the author, Tanya Eavenson. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Review

Undercover ICE agent Madi Reynolds has spent years infiltrating a human-trafficking ring, but when her life is threatened, she is forced to walk away and advised to leave the country. Undeterred, she continues her plan to attend her brother’s Christmas wedding, with her partner assigned as her bodyguard. But after seeing Brice care for her niece, she finds it’s more than her life that needs protecting. Is there really any defense for the heart?

War Veteran and ICE agent Brice Johnson has been defending his country and American lives for as long as he can remember. Now, he faces the biggest assignment of his life–protect the woman he loves. He’s never been one to run from a fight, but when an old flame butts in expecting a second chance with Madi, and crippling visions of war call out to him, he begins to wonder if surrender is an option after all.

A Biltmore Christmas (Romancing America) by Diane T. Ashley, Sylvia Barnes, Rhonda Gibson and Jeri Odell

#ReadChristmasinJuly

Publisher’s Summary

Explore the luxuries of America’s largest home through the eyes of the fiction Bradford sisters. Having been orphaned, they each secure work and lodging at the Biltmore estate. Charity, a laundress; Peggy, an assistant cook, Selma, a chambermaid; and Melissa, a stable “boy” each experience adventures in employment and romance that culminate at Christmastime when the Vanderbilts’ hospitality is at its grandest level.

My Review

A Carolina Christmas by Jeri Odell focuses on Charity Bradford, one of four orphaned sisters. Elsie Capps, proprietress of an orphanage in Biltmore Village, raises the four sisters after their missionary parents died in a train crash while on a mission’s trip.

Charity is hired to work at the Biltmore house as a laundress. When she first arrived, she had to wait for her immediate supervisor. Undaunted, she requests permission to visit the stables until her supervisor is available.

Joseph Malachi “Clay” Claybrook, a distant relative of the Vanderbilts, is visiting with his family while his home is being built. His love is horses, and he spends almost all his time in the stables caring for his and his sister’s horses. When Charity arrives at the stables, she mistakenly believes him to be a hired helper.

I thought the story was sweet. There were moments of confusion, uncertainty and insecurity that added just the right amount of tension to the romance.

Sylvia Barnes’ story, A Proper Christmas, centers on Selma, a chambermaid at the Biltmore.

On Selma’s first day, she inadvertently walks into the bedroom of guest Jacob Sinclair while he is still in the room. Mortified, and fearing she may lose her job, she quickly exits.

Jacob, walking out of the bathroom and discovering Selma, is enchanted by her.

Jacob and Selma’s romance is charming and not without misinterpretations that threaten their budding relationship.

Peggy is the sister spotlighted in Rhonda Gibson’s story, A Honey of a Christmas.

Peggy works in the pastry section of the kitchen at the Biltmore Estate; a job she excels at and loves.

Mark Ludman is a single father and a beekeeper who provides honey for the Biltmore Estate. His son, Joshua, has trouble reading, and Mark is relieved when Peggy offers to assist Josh in learning to read.

One thing I really liked about this story was the recipes at the end of each chapter!

Highlighting sister Melissa is the story, An Accidental Christmas, by Diane T. Ashley with Aaron McCarver.

Melissa transfers between several different jobs at the Biltmore home because calamities seem to follow her wherever she goes. However, she has an aptitude for repairing mechanical problems that is uncanny.

Ned Robinson is on his way with a business proposal for George Vanderbilt when he becomes a victim of Melissa’s inattention.

Misunderstandings and mishaps plague Melissa and Ned, making a romance almost impossible.

All four stories carry a theme of faith, along with a beguiling story of love and romance. I enjoyed the stories. However, I think I would have enjoyed them more if there had been further interaction (and in some cases, any) between the sisters in each of the stories. After I finished the book, I had the feeling that some of the stories were rushed and not quite completed.

                                           Christmas in July sponsored by                                              https://www.asimplyenchantedlife.com/christmas-in-july-signup/

 

The Courageous Brides Collection: Compassionate Heroism Attracts Male Suitors to Nine Spirited Women by Johnnie Alexander, Michelle Griep, Eileen Key, Debby Lee, Rose Allen McCauley, Donita Kathleen Paul, Jennifer Uhlarik, Jeness Walker and Renee Yancy

Publisher’s Summary

Ride into adventures alongside nine determined women of yesteryear whose acts of compassion and bravery attract male attention. Marcy helps displaced Indians. Emmy tends wounds at Fort Snelling. Ronnie stows away on a cattle drive. Daisy disguises herself as a Pony Express rider. Elinor becomes an abolitionist. Mae tames wild horses. Hannah gets help for accident victims. Lucy’s curiosity unnerves criminals. Kate nurses soldiers on the battlefield. Will real dangers douse the sparks of love?

My Review

The following are the titles and authors in The Courageous Brides Collection: Compassionate Heroism Attracts Male Suitors to Nine Spirited Women:

The Healing Promise by Johnnie Alexander, The Doctor’s Woman by Michelle Griep, An Everlasting Promise by Eileen Key, Love on the Run by Debby Lee, Hidden Courage by Rose Allen McCauley, The Encumbered Bride by Donita Kathleen Paul, Mountain Echoes by Jennifer Uhlarik, Letters from Lucy by Jenness Walker and The Battlefield Bride by Renee Yancy.

I enjoy novella collections for a variety of reasons, and this one did not disappoint. One reason I enjoy novellas is because I can read them quickly and finish them easily. Once I start reading, I hate to stop until I have finished the book! This collection was especially enjoyable because I found several new authors as well as authors well-known to me.

Each of the stories is set in the mid to late 1800’s and gives a fascinating view of life during that era. They also deal with social and societal issues facing powerless groups.

Historical fiction is one of my favorites, and when combined with messages of faith, they become even more pleasurable to me.

******************Forewarning******************

The last story, The Battlefield Bride, very realistically portrays gruesome wounds of warfare and the resulting primitive surgeries during the Civil War.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

The Matchmaker Brides Collection by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot, Lisa Carter, Ramona K. Cecil, Lynn A. Coleman, Susanne Dietze, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Connie Stevens, Liz Tolsma

My Review

Imagine being a matchmaker and not being able to find your own match, well, that’s exactly what happens in The Matchmaker Brides Collection, a compilation of nine novellas.

Every one of the ladies and a couple of the men have been somewhat successful at finding matches for others. However, they aren’t very good at finding their own match, even when those matches are right under their noses.

The stories cover different cities in America from 1876 to 1895. The settings are in real places, and it was fun to get to know more about the history of the small towns chosen, along with the time period, too.

The tales are short, so they are quick to read and make for a wonderful opportunity to curl up and absorb them individually or all at one time.

The Matchmaker Brides Collection also resonates with inspirational themes in the narratives, highlighting the need for faith, hope and sometimes forgiveness.

If you enjoy historical fiction, with an element of romance, you are sure to love these nine novellas written by nine Christian authors.

I received a copy of The Matchmaker Brides Collection from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

Publisher’s Summary

Nine Meddling Matchmakers Find Love When They Least Expect It

Meet nine women of the late 1800s who have found themselves in the role of matchmaker. They think they have mastered the art of recognizing romantic potential in others, but when it comes to their own lives they have been unlucky in love. In small communities from Tennessee to Colorado, Wyoming to Indiana, love unexpectedly enters the women’s lives with men they never imagined marrying. But what will it take to get these ladies to say “I do”?

Home Grown Bride by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
1876–Lebanon, Illinois
Emmie Mueller thinks the only way to leave Illinois and join her family in Kansas is to play matchmaker to the boarders who stand in the way of her grandmother selling her house. But tables are turned when the boarders attempt to match her with the newest man in town, Landon Knipp.

The Unmatched Bride by Amanda Cabot
1886–Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory
When a confirmed spinster matchmaker accepts an unusual assignment and helps a wealthy widower choose the right mate for his daughter, more than one couple finds true love.

Playing Possum by Lisa Carter
1895–Possum Trot, WY
Hoping to outplay, outwit, and outlast the Possum Trot matchmakers during the harvest festival, Cage Cooper proposes a pretend engagement to suffragette Theodosia Holland. Trouble is—in playing possum, they both may have gotten far more than they bargained for.

Hog Trough Bride by Ramona K. Cecil
1882–Honeytown, Indiana
Hoping to save her older sister from the humiliation of having to dance in the hog trough—a local custom when a younger sister beats her older sister to the altar—an aspiring bride engages in multiple matchmaking attempts with chaotic and surprising results.

The Tinman’s Match by Lynn A. Coleman
1880–On the road from Virginia to Tennessee
Josephine Woodley is surprised to find Xander Russell, a matchmaker, is an honorable man. Can she soften his tin heart enough for him to consider a match of his own?

Miss Matched by Susanne Dietze
1879–Emerald, Colorado
Brainy Grace Perkins applies scientific principles to play matchmaker for the singles in her small town. However, her hypothesis leaves out God’s role and matters of the heart, creating tangled results.

The Backfired Bride by Kim Vogel Sawyer
1889–Friendly, Kansas
Can a pair of single, inexperienced but well-meaning young people convince an older man and woman that marriage is better than remaining alone?

Sing of the Mercy by Connie Stevens
1876–Black Hills of Dakota Territory
A newly-elected mayor teams up with a hash house cook to turn a mining camp into a brand new town. Will they be able to transform the rough-edged miners into gentlemen, persuading prospective brides to consider matrimony?

A Match Made in Heaven by Liz Tolsma
1885–Detwiler, Iowa
Pastor Len Montgomery receives an unusual letter that turns him into the matchmaker he never wanted to be. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet and charming postmistress, may be out of his reach.

Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands Romance Collection by Susan Page Davis, Susanne Dietze, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels and Gina Welborn

My Review

Abigail Melton becomes the mayor of Turtle Springs, Kansas, by default. Her father doesn’t return after the Civil War, in which he, along with almost the entire male population of this small Kansas town, died in the war.

Abigail knows something needs to be done; the town needs men, so she proposes advertising for husbands, in a unique twist to the more common mail-order bride scenario. Her idea mimics today’s speed dating idea. Each woman will have 15 minutes with the men who respond to the ad. At the end of all the meetings, they can write down the name of the man they want to get to know better and set up dates.

All seven tales, beginning with Abigail’s, focuses on either a single lady or widow trying desperately to survive without the men necessary to run the ranches, stores, restaurant and other business or family ventures in Turtle Springs.

There are many light-hearted and sad moments within the stories. The women are as different as can be imagined, but all have hopes, dreams and a desire for a better life, not only for themselves but also for their friends and their town.

A lot of action and adventure is in the novella collection of Seven Brides for Seven Mail-Order Husbands. Each carries a message of faith and hope, too.

I enjoy how the seven novellas, though written by different authors, all had references to other individuals in the collection. If you enjoy historical fiction with a twist, you are sure to enjoy reading this compilation about the post-Civil War era in Turtle Springs, Kansas.

I received this book from NetGalley. However, I was under no obligation to post a review.

 

Publisher’s Summary

Seven women seek husbands to help them rebuild a Kansas town.

Meet seven of Turtle Springs, Kansas’, finest women who are determined to revive their small town after the War Between the States took most of its men. . .and didn’t return them. The ladies decide to advertise for husbands and devise a plan for weeding out the riff raff. But how can they make the best practical choices when their hearts cry out to be loved?

Abigail’s Proposal by Cynthia Hickey
When her father never returned from the war, Abigail Melton stepped into his role as town mayor. The town needs men, and she needs a husband—and she has a big idea how to find both—but her first duty is to hire a sheriff. And drifter Josiah Ingram will do just fine.

The Kidnapped Groom by Susan Page Davis
Riding through the Flint Hills on his way to Dodge City, cowboy Sam Cayford finds himself the kidnapping victim of two children. When he meets their lovely mother, Maggie Piner—whom the kids insist he should marry—Sam starts to question God’s plans versus his own.

A Clean Slate by Susanne Dietze
Schoolmarm Roberta “Birdy” Green won’t marry any of the prospective grooms flocking to town. After losing her fiancé in the war, the only love her broken heart can bear is for her students. But then she takes on a new pupil—Drew Cooper, one of the gentlemen drawn to Kansas by the advertisement for grooms.

Sunshine of My Heart by Darlene Franklin
Debbie Barker longs to bring beauty to her new home on the prairie, where her family moved after the war, and seeks a husband to help her father run the ranch. Zack Gage returned home from the war to a life in ruins—family dead and business bankrupted. He answers the mail-order husband ad to seek a fresh start. But neither Debbie nor Zeke know what they are doing when it comes to ranching. . .or love.

Come What May by Patty Smith Hall
Chardy Stevens is at the end of her rope. Between running her late father’s store and tending to her four younger brothers, she barely has time to breathe, much less look for a husband to help her. The boys scare off most of her prospects and throw Chardy together with her childhood friend Luke, a disabled veteran who seeks her happiness above his own.

Dime Novel Suitor by Carrie Fancett Pagels
Widow Caroline Kane is the proprietor of a restaurant and inn—and responsible for her five teenaged siblings. But she has no plans of finding a mail-order groom. Britisher Barden Granville IV is on a “cowboy holiday” when he finds himself flat broke in Kansas.  When he answers an old “help wanted” ad, Caroline misconstrues Barden is there as a potential husband. Will the beautiful and fiesty widow cause the new vicar to make Kansas his home?

Louder than Words by Gina Welborn
After years of writing abolitionist pamphlets and chronicling soldier life during the war, J.R. Lockhart is bored and jumps at the opportunity to investigate an advertisement for husbands for an article in Godey’s Lady’s Book. Jane Ransome would like to help the charming-but-oblivious-to-life-out-West man chronicle the courtships developing in town, but she has her own husband to find—one who will fit perfectly in her picket-fenced Kansas home.

An Amish Home: Four Novellas by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston, Ruth Reid and Kathleen Fuller

An Amish Home

Publisher’s Summary

A Cup Half Full by Beth Wiseman—Sarah Lantz always dreamed of the perfect home, the perfect husband, the perfect family. When she married Abram, she knew she was on her way to securing her perfect life. All of that changes in one moment when an accident leaves her unable to walk and confined to a wheelchair, dashing all of her dreams. As Abram starts to transform their home, Sarah begins a transformation in her spirit, and she begins, once again, to see her cup as half full.

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston—Down on their luck and desperate after they are evicted from their small apartment, Chace and Mia O’Conner reluctantly take Chace’s Amish boss up on his offer to rent them the daadihaus located on his property. They are certain they will never feel at home in the rustic cabin without any modern conveniences, and they start to blame each other for their seemingly hopeless situation. But with the help of their new Amish friends, Chace and Mia begin to enjoy their cozy cabin and realize that home really is where the heart is.

Building Faith by Kathleen Fuller—Faith Miller knows that carpentry is an unlikely hobby for a young Amish woman, but she loves the work and it keeps the memory of her grandfather alive. So, when her cousin asks Faith to build the cabinets in her new home, Faith is only too happy to take on the job, even if it is the most ambitious project she has ever taken on. The only catch is that she has to work with her ex-fiancé, Silas. As they work to build Martha’s kitchen, can they put the past behind them and start to build faith in one another again?

A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid—Fifteen years ago, Thomas and Noreen King were blissful newlyweds. Young, naive, and in love, life was rosy . . . for a while. Then trials and tribulations rocked their foundation, shattering them emotionally, and soon, their marriage was in shards. All hope for restoring their previously unshakable union seems lost. When fire destroys their home, Thomas and Noreen are left to sift through the rubble. As uncovered items from the remains of the house shake loose memories of the past, Thomas and Noreen begin to draw closer and a flicker of hope—and love—is re-ignited.

My Review

Sarah Lantz is unable to walk due to an accident. Her husband, Abram, blames himself for her disability. They each struggle with their feelings, and as the reader, you get caught up in the feelings and reactions they both have.  Beth Wiseman addresses the situation in a convincing and true-to-life way in A Cup Half Full. 

Home Sweet Home by Amy Clipston is about Chace and Mia O’Conner, who are one step from being homeless when Chace’s boss offers to let them rent his daadihaus (grandparent’s house). My heart breaks for this young couple’s hopelessness as they struggle their way through a new marriage and baby, having to accept someone’s charity and adjusting to living in an Amish home even though they aren’t Amish.

In A Flicker of Hope by Ruth Reid, Thomas and Noreen King’s marriage is hanging on by a thread. Circumstances have overwhelmed them, seemingly beyond repair. Any married couple will be able to relate to how not addressing a situation can cause one day to slip into another until it devastates a relationship beyond repair.

Faith Miller is an unconventional young Amish woman, she loves carpentry work and is good at it, too. However, her skills create a problem for her when she’s forced to work with her ex-boyfriend. Even though Building Faith, by Kathleen Fuller, has some unexpected surprises, I think it is my favorite of the four because I can understand Faith’s love for and desire to be a carpenter.

An Amish Home is a compilation of four novellas written by Beth Wiseman, Amy Clipston and Kathleen Fuller.  Each of the authors did an excellent job of incorporating the importance of family, home and faith in God into their stories. I have read other books or novellas by these four authors and have never been disappointed. I wasn’t with this collection either.

I received this book free through the Fiction Guild program in exchange for an honest review.

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection

The California Gold Rush Romance Collection: 9 Stories of Finding Treasures Worth More than Gold by Amanda Barratt, Angela Bell, Dianne Christner, Anne Greene, Linda Farmer Harris, Cynthia Hickey, Pam Hillman, Jennifer Rogers Spinola and Jaime Jo Wright

california-gold-rush

About the Book

Rush to California after the 1848 gold discovery alongside thousands of hopeful men and women. Meet news reporters, English gentry, miners, morticians, marriage brokers, bankers, fugitives, preachers, imposters, trail guides, map makers, cooks, missionaries, town builders, soiled doves, and more people who take advantage of the opportunities to make their fortunes in places where the population swelled overnight. But can faith and romance transform lives where gold is king?

My Review

Everyone, from all walks of life, is caught up in gold fever during the California gold rush. The California Gold Rush Romance Collection richly captures a slice of life during this tumultuous and exciting time in American history.

Nine authors come together to give a unique perspective on the robust era of the gold rush.

Amanda Barratt pens the story of Lorena Quinn, in The Price of Love. Lorena is a struggling new reporter who jumps at the chance to cover the gold rush and to prove her boss wrong. Women don’t need men to take care of them, even if the woman is unbecoming with unfashionably red hair.

The Best Man in Brookside by Angela Bell focuses on Donovan, an Irish immigrant to England. However, Donovan had to flee England after being falsely accused of theft. He feels himself a failure for having to leave his little sister and wants to vindicate himself. So, he seeks his fortune in gold in America, hoping to free himself and his sister.

Civilizing Clementine by Dianne Christner, introduces us to Clementine Cahill, forced to return to San Francisco with her Chilean friends after her father is injured in a logging accident. Motherless Clementine begins to feel betrayed when her invalid father badgers her to clean up her grammar and start wearing dresses.

Ann Green’s story, The Marriage Broker and the Mortician, opens with the robbery of Eve Malloy, while she was at a boarding house. Rafe Riley, happening upon the scene 15 minutes later, offers to assist her and takes her to dinner when none of the multitudes of men at the boarding house seem to care.

Jo Bass is made known to us in The Lye Water Bride by Linda Farmer Harris. Jo and her brother Thaddeus run the local bank. However, Thaddeus falls ill, leaving Jo with the chore of caring for day-to-day operations.

Cynthia Hickey writes the story of Rose McIroy in A Sketch of Gold. Poor Rose is forced to cut her hair to hide her muliebrity. She can’t believe her father’s latest get rich quick scheme involves trying to pass her off as a male and call her boy all the time.

Pam Hillman’s tale, Love is a Puzzle, presents the story of Shanyn Duvall and her aunt who traveled from the tip of South America to Sacramento in the hopes of seeing Shanyn’s father. They learn he has passed away, and during this time, Sacramento is not a friendly town for two single women.

The Golden Cross by Jennifer Rogers Spinola centers on Ming and her uncle, who travel from China to California. Ming feels God called her to be a missionary to America, and her uncle is hoping they can find riches in the gold-rich state.

Golden Haven Heiress, by Jamie Jo Wright, is about Jack Taylor and Thalia Simmons, residents of a ghost town. Thalia, trying to escape her past, moved to Golden Haven to be left alone, then Jack shows up and disrupts her peaceful life.

The stories in the Gold Rush Collection differs in their seriousness of Biblical applications. However, each author does a fitting job of presenting Christian principles.

I thoroughly delighted in each story and each author’s interpretation of the gold rush time frame. I also enjoyed the ability to read as many or as few stories as I wanted in one sitting.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Love at Christmas Inn: Collection I by Tanya Stowe, Marianne Evans, Mary Manners and Delia Latham

love-at-christmas-inn

About the Book

Nestled into five beautiful acres just outside Hope Creek, Tennessee, Christmas Inn is an unforgettable place known for its joyful atmosphere and festive setting. Holiday decorations adorn each room. Trees glittering with ribbons and ornaments, gorgeous wreaths, velvet stockings and pine-scented candles brighten visitors’ stay at this vacation spot dedicated to Christmas all year, every year. The resort offers all the usual enticements plus one unique amenity…love. The little white chapel behind the inn, built by the Christmas family in the 1890s, boasts bell tower bells that toll when couples fall in love.

But Christmas Inn has fallen on hard times. The chapel bells haven’t rung for many years, and this Christmas may be the final celebration at the resort…unless love finds its way home.

My Review

Four magical stories are woven into the sweet enchantment of new love discovered and lost love found in Love at Christmas Inn:  Collection I by authors Tanya Stowe, Marianne Evans, Mary Manners and Delia Latham.

Christmas Inn, built by Angus Christmas in the 1800’s, has a rich history and an interesting legacy. According to legend, if a couple at the inn falls in love, the bells at the chapel begin to ring. Interestingly enough, the bells stopped ringing years ago, except when a couple has fallen in love.

I enjoyed reading the four novellas in Love at Christmas Inn. The stories are all connected together seamlessly.  Each story is distinct from the others, yet the plots are often overlaid. For instance, several of the stories share the same snowball fight, many characters reappear, and of course, the central setting is always the Christmas Inn.

The rich imagery of the Inn, decorated year-round in a Christmas theme, comes alive with each author’s story. I couldn’t keep from imagining myself walking over Jingle Bell Creek on the North Pole Bridge, watching children playing on the giant Santa’s sleigh, sitting in the quiet chapel or marveling over the Nativity near the frozen waterfall.

The legend takes on a life of its own as the four authors find different and unique ways of “ringing the bells” for love.

If you revel in the magic of Christmas and a year-round celebration of the season, you will want to read Love at Christmas Inn!

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The 12 Brides of Summer Collection by Mary Connealy, Amanda Cabot, Miralee Ferrell, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Margaret Brownley, Susan Page Davis, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Davalynn Spencer, Michelle Ule, Vickie McDonough

12 Brides of Summer

My Review

The Honey Bride, by Diana Brandmeyer, introduces us to Katie Tucker. Katie is afraid of bees, but they may be the only option for her, her brother and grandmother to survive. After her father’s death, she has to keep the family farm going. It looks like her neighbor, Pete Dent, and the bees may be her only solution.

Diana Brandmeyer has written an excellent story showing us how we can rest assured of the Lord’s help with all our fears and sorrows.

Margaret Brownley has written a fun, enjoyable story in Dog Days of Summer.

Marilee Davis, a music teacher, has found the perfect assistant-her pet dog, Mo. He has an ear for music, and when Marilee’s students hit a discordant note, Mo lets them know. Tim Colbert, the city blacksmith, has the perfect dog, too, Dynamite. Marilee and Tim have noticed their dogs keeps disappearing, but neither one suspect that Mo is actually Dynamite!

The Fourth of July Bride is by Amanda Cabot.

Naomi Towson and her mother are struggling to make ends meet, with Naomi working as an assistant in the town’s bakery. When her mother needs a delicate and expensive surgery, Naomi knows that she can’t afford to pay for it. Only her trust in God keeps her from being overwhelmed with despair. So, when Gideon Carlisle, local cattle baron, offers to pay for the surgery in exchange for Naomi pretending to be his fiancée, she jumps at the chance.

In A Bride Rides Herd, Mary Connealy mixes a story of delightful mischief and abject fear, with humor and seriousness, creating a charming love story.

Matt Reeves is traveling to his brother’s ranch when he hears an ear-piercing scream. Spinning his horse around to head back where he heard the scream, he’s expecting to find the worst. Instead, he finds two of his brother’s daughters deliberately catapulting themselves into a fast moving stream.

Warring emotions overcome him as he gathers them up to take them home, only to discover his brother left a seemingly inept young lady as the babysitter.

Susan Page Davis does a great job of setting up The Blue Moon Bride.

Ava Neal is going on an adventure-a train ride to visit her best friend in Wyoming Territory. She travels unaccompanied, an uncommon thing for a young woman to do in the late 1800’s.

As Ava ventures West, Joe Logan befriends her. Joe, tasked with delivering valuables to a client of his law firm, is on his way to San Francisco. However, the train they are riding on is robbed.

As you read, you feel the fear during the robbery, Ava’s joy at arriving at her friends and the thrill of the race to catch the thieves. Along the way, you cheer for Ava and Joe as they begin to fall in love.

You are sure to enjoy the playful story of The Dogwood Blossom Bride by Miralee Ferrell, written with just the right amount of romance and seriousness.

Gracie Addison is a tomboy through and through. Her favorite pastimes are climbing trees and horseback riding. In fact, falling out of a tree was how she first met Will Montgomery.

Will is single and raising his niece and needs help in the process. Gracie may be the perfect answer. However, he doesn’t realize at their first meeting she is grown. And he is constantly fighting against her tomboy tendencies, trying to keep Gracie from influencing his little girl too much.

Pam Hillman ‘s The Lumberjack’s Bride is a story full of danger and excitement.

Lucy Denson is a cook for a lumberjack crew, something the Chicago native never dreamed she would be.  She just wants to go back home where everyone and everything is civilized. Eli Everett, a member of the logging crew, couldn’t agree with her more. Her citified ways are jeopardizing the camp crew.

The Summer Harvest Bride, by Maureen Lang, is a romantic story with a bit of intrigue.

Sally Hobson’s family, and even Sally to some extent, are convinced she should marry the Mayor’s son, Willis Polit. However, Sally starts having second thoughts when Lukas Daughton, with his brothers and his father, ride into town with plans to build the community’s first gristmill. When the mill is sabotaged, Sally comes to the rescue and realizes her true love.

The Wildflower Bride, by Amy Lillard, is about Grace Sinclair, a widowed preacher’s daughter.

Grace has accepted that her lot in life is to stay unmarried in order to assist her father. All her convictions change when her sister gets married, and Grace meets Ian McGruer, with whom she falls in love at first sight.

The story is very reminiscent of Grace Livingston Hill romances. The young couple meets and immediately falls in love. However, they have seemingly insurmountable obstacles to overcome.

The tale was a little hard for me to get into, as I don’t think someone can fall in love within moments of setting eyes on another, much less have the love reciprocated. Nonetheless, it is an enjoyable, romantic account of two young people.

The Country Fair Bride, by Vickie McDonough, is a heartwarming story of redemption, forgiveness and the ability to change with God’s help.

Prudence “Prudy” Willard returns home to Bakertown, Missouri, in 1892 to see her ill father. She originally left, spending about a year and a half with her Aunt, after her scandalous treatment of the new pastor and his fiancé. She is determined to keep her new forgiving spirit, but when Adam Merrick, interim mayor while her dad is sick, seems to be too comfortable, Prudy’s waspish tongue stings again.

A refreshing love story, The Columbine Bride, by Davalynn Spencer, illustrates how love can overcome and conquer even the worst of circumstances.

Lucy Powell is a young widowed mother of two children. As Lucy tries to navigate life without her husband, she doesn’t want charity. However, Buck Reiter can’t stand seeing the family work so hard. He constantly assists Lucy by bringing firewood and making repairs around the farm.

The Sunbonnet Bride, by Michelle Ule, places us in the life of Sally Martin. Sally has moved to town to work as a seamstress in order to augment her family’s farm income. However, she has a difficult decision to make. A tornado has destroyed the family farm, and two men are vying for her attention. Malcolm McDougal, a local man, is steady, dependable, a hard worker and not afraid to get his hands dirty helping the tornado victims. Josiah French, on the other hand, is a wealthy banker, offering loans to those whose homes were damaged and never seems to get dirty.  However, he could offer Sally and her family a way out of their hard life.

Michelle Ule skillfully weaves the difficulties facing Sally into an excellent account, complete with all the anxiety and worry one would expect under similar circumstances.

I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

(I previously reviewed this book when it was in a multiple novella book form.)