Friday, October 21, 2011

Smitten by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter

How delightful to receive the ARC (advanced reader copy) for this book during a recent writers’ conference. Smitten is a novella compilation with four novellas written by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter. It releases December 20, 2011.

Let’s begin with the back cover copy:

Four friends devise a plan to turn Smitten, Vermont, into the country's premier romantic getaway—and each finds her own true love along the way.

With Smitten Lumber closing, residents wonder if their town can stay afloat. Then four friends and local business owners—Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese—decide the town is worth saving. How will they do it? They'll turn Smitten into a honeymoon destination!

As Natalie, Julia, Shelby, and Reese work to save the town, each discovers romance in her own life. Meanwhile, the faith of a little child reminds the whole town what it means to have real faith in the God who is the always and forever Love.

Discover a novel written by four of Christian fiction's most popular romance novelists- friends in real life who've drawn an amazing story of four friends! Includes a Reading Group Guide as well as "Conversation over Coffee with the Authors."

And now, my review:

In the authors’ note for this book, we learn about how the project came together. One of the things the authors mention is that they each wrote a character who was a lot like themselves. So, in reading the novellas, you get a glimpse of both their relationship with each other as well as their own personalities. I loved that aspect of this book. The authors are a group of dear friends. What a thrill to see the photographs from the same writers’ conference (a year earlier) when they signed the contract for this book, and then to see the close-to-final product last month.

These four best friends (the characters, not the authors *smile*) are gearing up to save their small town from financial ruin following the lumber mill’s closing. Along the way, they each fall in love. The stories overlap, so you’ll probably want to read them in order. I began with the first story (read most of it, though I didn’t finish it), tried the second and third stories and couldn’t get into them, then skipped ahead to the fourth story which I really enjoyed! (You could blame this on my love for Denise Hunter's books. *wink*) I laughed aloud, related with the heroine, loved the hero, and delighted in the twists of this reunion romance. The fourth novella made the book for me.

I think fans of each of the authors will enjoy this book as well, for the same reasons. And the other authors may gain new fans as people pick up the book due to a certain name on the cover. I’ve always liked reading novella compilations because each story is “bite-sized” if you will. Same’s true for this Thomas Nelson offering. If I’d had more time, I may have finished all of the novellas. As it was, I had several books awaiting me so I felt rushed. Most readers will probably be able to relax and lose themselves in the lovely setting.

I’ve heard mention there may be a Smitten 2 (with a different title, probably) coming next year. I’ll be watching for it.

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