Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Merry Little Christmas by Catherine Palmer & Jillian Hart

Dear readers, I hope you've had a wonderful Christmas!

Today's review is the second of the novellas in this collection. First, the back cover copy--

"Christmas, Don't Be Late" by Jillian Hart

When a misunderstanding caused millionaire Colton Nichols to be taken for Santa Claus by neighbor Amanda Richards's young son, Colton was determined to keep his distance. But the Christmas-wish letter Jeremy sent broke his heart--Jeremy asked only that his sick sister be well and his mom's heart not be sad. Colton found himself praying for just that--and wishing this family were his own.

And now my review--

I enjoyed this Christmas read. Usually Christmas novellas are light and cheery. This story was a bit heavier as it dealt with a young cancer patient. I have to say, though, that didn't turn me off reading it, even this time of year. I don't mind a heavier story so long as the ending is happy. (You'll have to read the novella to learn if that's the case.) The romance of the story seemed to take a secondary role with the love of a mother and her daughter at the forefront. Again, that seemed to work well since Jillian painted the maternal aspects very believably and warmly. I recommend this holiday story, especially if you enjoy novella-length stories this time of year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Bundle of Joy by Robin Lee Hatcher

This story was originally released in 1998 as Daddy Claus. But in 2008, Robin updated the story as Bundle of Joy. I never read the original, but I'm very glad I picked up this newly reworked novel.

First of all, what's not to love about that cover? As a mother of three children, I found this little baby in the Santa hat adorable. Within the book's pages, though, a delightful Christmas romance.

Somehow, pregnant Alicia Harris convinces childhood friend Joe Palermo to conspire with her and appear married for the sake of her ailing grandfather. They'll keep up the ruse through Christmas, then part after Grandpa returns to his home far away. Thus we have the setting of our story, two characters forced together to fall in love. Conflict number one--they end up having to get married, due to circumstances. And before you think Alicia too guilty for your sympathy, you should know her first husband (the baby's father) abandoned her.

I enjoyed Robin's skill of drawing us into her heroine's world. The author's motherhood references really spoke to me. One of the elements which drew the hero to the heroine was Alicia's obvious maternal warmth. Robin's romance works very well, too. We watch these two fall believably in love. She demonstrates what, specifically, the pair like about each other. In the midst of their adventures, Robin throws in a couple surprises. I believe readers will enjoy this Christmas romance.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hearts Evergreen by Robin Lee Hatcher & Kathryn Springer

Don't you love reading Christmas books at Christmastime? I do! Especially "bite-sized" novellas paired for compilations.

First, the back cover copy:

A Cloud Mountain Christmas
by Robin Lee Hatcher

Take one lonely divorcee at Christmastime. Send her on business to the romantic Cloud Mountain Lodge. Add a complication: handsome innkeeper Tony Anderson. And mix!

A Match Made for Christmas
by Kathryn Springer

Cynical reporter Connor Lawe discovers that getting youth leader Sarah Kendle to agree to a story about her merry band of carolers is easier said than done -- but well worth the effort.

And now, my review:

This novella compilation (two separate stories) was delightful to read. Robin's reunion romance story cruises along with some complications, a dash of predictability and a believable romance. I enjoyed her characters and setting. I noticed the head-hopping POV shifts, but I don't think most readers will care. Then, the second novella, Kathryn's, surprised me! Her writing voice is delightful. I hadn't read much of her work in the past. Her writing is fresh and her characters believable. The challenge I noticed in this story was a bit of a pacing issue. Overall, I'd recommend readers check out this fun Christmastime read.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Courteous Cad by Catherine Palmer

I've long been a fan of Catherine Palmer's, so I was thrilled to receive a copy of her new release to read for review.

First, a bit about the book:

On her tour of the English countryside, a chance encounter in the streets alerts Miss Prudence Watson to the inhumane working conditions at the worsted mill. She learns that the owner is William Sherbourne, a Royal Naval officer just returned from sea. Following in his wake is his reputation as a cad and a secret so ghastly he'll do anything to protect it. Even worse, he's handsome and charming and not at all the villain Prudence expected him to be.

And now, my review:

Catherine Palmer’s characters, the warmth she infused into her stories, and the well-crafted romantic element all shine in her upcoming release—The Courteous Cad.

This was my first exposure to her series including Miss Pickworth, yet I didn’t feel like I was thrust into a world I couldn’t understand or a cast of characters I couldn’t follow. I enjoy reading a novel without feeling I need to go back and read the previous books in a series. Catherine gave me that reading pleasure with this book.

What lover of inspirational romance would expect to admire a cad as a hero? Yet, I did. Catherine’s hero was believable and likable, and flawed. I took to him immediately.

Her heroine’s drive to help the down-trodden mill workers draws respect from the reader, and though you may not agree with her methods, you have to admire her spunk.

I appreciated the history included in Catherine’s novel. Also, the regency setting caused me to crave another viewing of a Jane Austen film.

A delightful read.

Highly recommended.

This book is available now through For more information, visit Catherine's Web site here.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy

Recently, Mary Connealy visited Seriously Write, a blog my friend Dawn Kinzer and I cohost. After reading her journey to publication and the promo on her recent release, I had to get my hands on a copy of her book, Cowboy Christmas. I'm glad I did.

First, a peek at the summary:

Get ready for a fun and suspenseful Christmastime romance. Trouble follows singer Annette Talbot to Wyoming—and rancher Elijah Walker finds himself directly in its path. Though still wounded by the betrayal of his ex-fiancĂ©e, Elijah finds himself attracted to the secretive singer. When it appears Annie is a threat to his mother’s life, Elijah must decide if Annie’s deep faith and love of God is genuine or if it’s all just a ruse. He decides to trust her—until he discovers she’s a wanted woman. As Christmas draws near, will Elijah respond to God’s gentle persuasion to find the truth before he loses Annie forever?

And now my review:

What romance readers can resist a cowboy story?

Mary depicted her hero well. True to his cowboy designation, he hated crying, but she told you why. He didn’t trust women, and this fit with his history.

Mary’s heroine was fun to follow through her adventures. It’s interesting to read a book where the heroine bears my name. Annette is an unusual name, and I’ve rarely seen it in books I’ve read. At times, "Annie" drove me crazy with her annoying choices, but I kept turning the pages, which shows Mary had me hooked.

The beginning of this story plays out with a scene of violence, which is not a good representation of the rest of the novel's tone. On the whole, the novel is a fun read, lighter than the opening tone suggests. (though a suspenseful element exists behind the scenes). Not one for reading violence or suspense, I'm glad I kept reading.

Mary has a great command of romance. She showed us her characters’ love story developing in a believable way with a sometimes humorous backdrop. Romance readers will eat it up.

Overall, readers will enjoy this full-length Christmas novel. The title and cover (and story, once you crack it open) are irresistible. There’s nothing like reading a new Christmas-themed book at Christmastime. Grab a warm beverage, plunk down in front of the fireplace, and give yourself permission this season to dive into a good romance with Mary’s novel.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

New Christian Fiction Releases for December, 2009

1. A Bouquet for Iris, by Diane Ashley & Aaron McCarver from Barbour Heartsong Presents. Iris Landon travels to Daisy, Tennessee, to care for two Cherokee children and finds romance and danger while aiding one family in the struggle to keep their land.

2. A Lady Like Sarah, Rocky Creek Romance, by Margaret Brownley from Thomas Nelson. He's a preacher. She's an outlaw. Both are in need of a miracle.

3. ANGEL WITH A BACKHOE, by Deb Kinnard from Desert Breeze Publishing. A small-town widower and a spunky suburban transplant match wits over a church construction project, finding true love can mix with blueprints and concrete footings.

4. Child Finder: Resurrection series: Child Finder Trilogy, 2nd book, by Mike Angley from Total Recall Publications, Inc. Child Finder: Resurrection…the highly-anticipated sequel to the award-winning debut novel, Child Finder, which Library Journal placed on its 2009 Summer Reads list for Christian fiction!

5. Christmas Peril, by Margaret Daley from Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense. Christmas themed, romantic suspense stories.

6. Cup of Joe, by Teri Wilson from White Rose Publishing. A grieving woman resists the cups of comfort offered by the shy, but handsome, owner of the neighborhood coffee shop.

7. Field of Danger, by Ramona Richards from Love Inspired Suspense. When April Presley can’t remember details of the murder she witnessed, deputy Daniel Rivers must help her recall the event and protect her from the killer determined to silence her.

8. Her Patchwork Family series: The Gabriel Sisters, by Lyn Cote from Love Inspired. In spite of opposition from the rich and influential, can Felicity Gabriel establish a home for children orphaned by the Civil War and heal two wounded hearts?

9. Patterns and Progress series: Michigan historical, book 3, by Amber Stockton from Barbour Publishing. A farmer's daughter would rather turn back the hands of time than accept the fact that advancement in technology could be in God's plan.

10. The Sheriff's Surrender series: #1 of The Ladies' Shooting Club Series, by Susan Page Davis from Barbour Publishing. The men of Fergus aren’t keeping the town safe, so a group of feisty women take matters into their own hands.

11. The Glassblower series: First book in the New Jersey Historical Series, by Laurie Alice Eakes from Barbour Publishing. Colin Grassick moves from Edinburgh, Scotland to Salem county New jersey totake a position as a master glassblower. He loves his work and hopes of bringing his family to America for a better life. But his love for Meg, the daughter of the owner of the glassworks, threatens his job...and then his life.

This list is compiled by a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers based on the names and book information she receives from the members. This is not an exhaustive list of new fiction releases.