Five and Dime Christmas: 4 Historical Novellas by Suzanne Dietze, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey and Christina Lorenzen

Publisher’s Summary

Christmas Is a Time for Romance at a 1880s Department Store

Visit Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1881 where the Woodworth’s Five and Dime has become the center of Christmas commerce—and a great place to fall in love.
 
A Merry Little Christmas by Susanne Dietze
Woolworth’s store clerk Hattie Scott’s heart is touched by a handsome customer, but when she takes on additional secretarial work to earn money for Christmas, she learns her new boss is Englishman Timothy Branson—her favorite customer. . .and a threat to her brother’s job! Can two proud hearts overcome their differences to help her brother. . .and find love?
 
A Home for Christmas by Patty Smith Hall
Essie Banfield doesn’t need money but welcomes the challenges of working a job where she meets a minister and six little boys who inspire Christmas wishes. But will Pastor Max Warner trust that she is more than just a socialite with charitable intentions?
 
The Light of Christmas by Christina Lorenzen
A job is the only thing independent orphan Lizzie Miller needs, and Henry Kimball is singularly focused on proving his success outside the family business. But could the lure of an old-fashioned family Christmas bring them together?
 
Lunch with Maggie by Cynthia Hickey
Maggie Larson works the lunch counter where she befriends a girl who’s lonely father delivers milk each Friday. Friday’s noon hour becomes the highlight of Maggie’s week, but after being left at the altar, she closed her heart to love and to God. Will Seth Jamison be able to unlock her heart?

The nostalgic novellas of Five and Dime Christmas tug on the heartstrings and transport us to the golden heydays of the five and dime stores in the 1880s.

Four uplifting and endearing tales written by four excellent authors take us back into days of yore and to Christmases past.

One young woman’s experience working for F. W. Woolworth is the focus and center of each tale. The individual novellas begin with a Bible verse pointing to the essence and main idea of the story, bringing in the religious element, which is much appreciated. The young women work in various departments of the store, providing us with information on each section. The details of Christmas provide the big red bow on top!

Five and Dime Christmas by Suzanne Dietze, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey and Christina Lorenzen is a great story to set the mood for Christmas. All you need is to curl up in your favorite chair with hot chocolate and dream of yesteryear!

I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I am voluntarily leaving this review.

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The Librarian’s Journey by Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk and Kathleen Y’Barbo

Publisher’s Description

A brave fight for literacy during the Great Depression

Four women set out on horseback to bring the library to remote communities

Part of FDR’s New Deal was the Works Progress Administration, which funded the Pack Horse Library Initiative. Ride along with four book-loving women who bravely fight for literacy in remote communities during the Great Depression by carrying library books via horseback. Will their efforts be rewarded by finding love in the process?

Love’s Turning Page by Cynthia Hickey
1935, Ozark Mountains
Grace Billings jumped at the chance to be a traveling librarian, but she didn’t anticipate the long days of work, the intense poverty, or the handsome new schoolteacher whose love for the mountain people surpasses even her own.

For Such a Time by Patty Smith Hall
1936, Pine Mountain, Georgia
Forced out of her nursing job due to budget cuts, Ruth Sims applies for a position with the Pack Horse Library incentive, only to discover she must go to the one place she swore never to return. The children instantly steal her heart with their thirst for books, and she’s happy in her post until she meets their teacher, Will Munroe—the man who broke her heart. 

Book Lady of the Bayou by Marilyn Turk
1936, Mississippi
Forced out of her comfort zone, Lily Bee Davis travels by horse or boat taking books to remote areas. When she meets little Evie and her reclusive father at a dilapidated plantation house, she is drawn by their losses and longs to draw them out into life again. 

The Librarian and the Lawman by Kathleen Y’Barbo
1936, Kentucky
Lottie Trent connects with a backwoods bully’s wife by secretly carrying messages for her in exchange for books. FBI agent Clayton Turnbow is on the trail of a criminal gang and discovers the packhorse librarian maybe a key member.

I’ve recently become entranced by stories of librarians who ride pack horses (and sometimes pack mules). Many novels have been written about these brave women and their sometimes risky jobs. The Librarian’s Journey tells the story of four fictional females and their motivations for becoming pack horse librarians, as well as the hardships they faced.

The women who worked as packhorse librarians were employed as part of the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration (WPA). Although the program was officially limited to Kentucky, there were sponsors from other states, as indicated in a couple of the book’s stories. These sponsors provided financial support to the young women who were fortunate enough to be chosen for the positions.

I enjoyed reading each story because they detailed the different personalities of the librarians and the terrain the ladies experienced. My heart ached, however, because practically everyone they serviced was impoverished and lived in abject and seemingly hopeless circumstances. They all greatly appreciated the librarians and the books and magazines they furnished.

Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Marilyn Turk and Kathleen Y’Barbo have all done an outstanding job by strikingly portraying the subject of packhorse librarians, as well as the obstacles, challenges, heartaches and joys inherent in their duties and responsibilities.

I received an advanced review copy of this book from NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I am voluntarily leaving this review.

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.