Mr. Miracle by Debbie Macomber

  • Mr. Miracle (Vine Oct7)Title:  Mr. Miracle: A Christmas Novel
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Christmas; Contemporary Romance
  • Published:  October 2014 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  With a nod to Dickens, Debbie Macomber’s new Christmas novel is about the possibilities of new beginnings. Harry Mills (an angel) gets his chance to help some humans going in the right direction. To nudge them along, if you will. He’s a teacher at the community college and chooses A Christmas Carol as the class novel.

First up is Addie who has moved home after being gone for six years. She’ll live at her mom’s house while taking the last class needed to get her GED. Then she’ll go to college. What Addie doesn’t expect is the boy next door still being next door. Circumstances have made it so Erich must be there over the holidays. He’s not happy about that and even less thrilled that Addie is going to be involved in his life. Both Addie and Erich have regrets but can they help each other learn from those regrets and move forward?

Others who will find themselves getting attention from Harry are Danny who is on parole and must take a class and Andrew, a veteran, and his service dog. Harry has his work cut out for him with his students and his fellow faculty and staff.

I thought this was a sweet Christmas story but it’s not my favorite by the author. At the end of the book there’s an excerpt from last year’s Christmas book. After you read Mr. Miracle I recommend you read Starry Night. I really liked that one! However, if all you want is a new and fast read (that can be important at this busy time of year) you should look for Mr. Miracle. I don’t think you can go wrong with Debbie Macomber.

Love Letters: A Rose Harbor Novel by Debbie Macomber

love letters - rose harbor#3 (Aug12)

  • Title:  Love Letters
  • Series:  Rose Harbor #3
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction/Romance; series
  • Published:  August 2014 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  In this enchanting novel set at Cedar Cove’s cozy Rose Harbor Inn, #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber celebrates the power of love—and a well-timed love letter—to inspire hope and mend a broken heart.
Summer is a busy season at the inn, so proprietor Jo Marie Rose and handyman Mark Taylor have spent a lot of time together keeping the property running. Despite some folks’ good-natured claims to the contrary, Jo Marie insists that Mark is only a friend. However, she seems to be thinking about this particular friend a great deal lately. Jo Marie knows surprisingly little about Mark’s life, due in no small part to his refusal to discuss it. She’s determined to learn more about his past, but first she must face her own—and welcome three visitors who, like her, are setting out on new paths.
Twenty-three-year-old Ellie Reynolds is taking a leap of faith. She’s come to Cedar Cove to meet Tom, a man she’s been corresponding with for months, and with whom she might even be falling in love. Ellie’s overprotective mother disapproves of her trip, but Ellie is determined to spread her wings.
Maggie and Roy Porter are next to arrive at the inn. They are taking their first vacation alone since their children were born. In the wake of past mistakes, they hope to rekindle the spark in their marriage—and to win back each other’s trust. But Maggie must make one last confession that could forever tear them apart.
For each of these characters, it will ultimately be a moment when someone wore their heart on their sleeve—and took pen to paper—that makes all the difference. Debbie Macomber’s moving novel reveals the courage it takes to be vulnerable, accepting, and open to love.  (publisher)

My take:  Debbie Macomber’s third installment of the Rose Harbor series involves Jo Marie, the thirty-something widowed innkeeper, who continues to grieve the loss of her husband. She’s also trying to figure out what’s up with Mark, her handyman. This storyline has been in each book of the series and we find out a bit more in this book – but not everything.

Guests at the inn are a couple who are trying to get their marriage back on track and a young woman who is going to meet for the first time a young man she met online. Each chapter involves one of the three storylines and made for a fast, enjoyable and entertaining read.

You don’t have to have read the previous books in the series but I recommend it. You’ll get a better feel for Jo Marie’s background story. I think this book is the perfect vacation read – it was easy to set down but I always looked forward to picking it back up. I’m eager to read the next book in the series (and not just because there was a bit of a cliff-hanger). Recommended to fans of Debbie Macomber and contemporary, small town fiction.

Blossom Street Brides by Debbie Macomber

blossom street brides (vine)

  • Title:  Blossom Street Brides
  • Series:  Blossom Street, #10
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Romance
  • Published:  March 25, 2014 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  I love my visits to Blossom Street.  I haven’t read all of the previous books but I plan to.  This time we catch up with Lydia, the owner of the yarn shop on Blossom Street – A Good Yarn. Life is good for Lydia, her husband and two children. Her mother has health issues that concern her but daughter Casey dotes upon her grandmother which eases Lydia’s worries a bit. These days Lydia is trying to solve the mystery of who is placing baskets of knitting projects around the city with directions to take the finished project to A Good Yarn. Business sure has picked up!

Lydia’s display window features a baby blanket that catches the eye of almost everyone. She has trouble keeping the yarn for the project in stock. Two women in particular are waiting for the next order to arrive. Lauren, a young woman who works down the street wants to knit the blanket for the baby her younger sister expects. Lauren would give anything to be married and pregnant. Bethanne just found out her son and his wife are expecting. She can’t wait to start knitting for her first grandchild.

After realizing her long-time boyfriend has no intention of proposing Lauren puts together a “husband list” – a list of qualities she wants in a husband. She’ll soon find that what she always thought was important is not what she really wants.

Bethanne is a newlywed and living in Seattle while her husband lives in California.  They see each other on weekends and know they can’t keep living this way. Bethanne’s daughter refuses to give her blessing to her stepfather. After all, her father wanted to reunite with her mother when his second marriage (the one he left his family for) fell apart. Bethanne feels torn between her new life and her daughter.

Blossom Street Brides is typical Debbie Macomber. She writes good stories that are quite addicting – at least they are to me! She has such an easy style that grabs me from the first page and leaves me smiling as I turn the last. I can’t wait for my next visit to Blossom Street.

A Nantucket Christmas: A Novel by Nancy Thayer

a nantucket christmas

  • Title:   A Nantucket Christmas: A Novel
  • Author:   Nancy Thayer
  • Genre:  Fiction; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2013 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  Known for her heartwarming observations of family life, New York Times bestselling author Nancy Thayer showcases her beloved Nantucket’s snowy off-season in this emotionally gratifying and utterly entertaining story.
 
Holidays on this Massachusetts island are nothing short of magical, from the jolly decorations on the Brant Point lighthouse to the much anticipated Christmas Stroll, in which merry makers promenade through quaint streets adorned with Yuletide cheer. The season’s wonderful traditions are much loved by Nicole Somerset, new to Nantucket and recently married to a handsome former attorney. Their home is already full of enticing scents of pine, baking spices, and homemade pie.
 
But the warm, festive mood is soon tempered by Nicole’s chilly stepdaughter, Kennedy, who arrives without a hint of holiday spirit. Determined to keep her stepmother at arms’ length—or, better yet, out of the picture altogether—Kennedy schemes to sabotage Nicole’s holiday preparations. Nicole, however, is not about to let anyone or anything tarnish her first Christmas with her new husband.
 
Nancy Thayer’s wonderful tale reminds us that this is the season of miracles. Before the gifts are unwrapped, surprise visitors appear, and holiday joy comes to all, both naughty and nice.  (publisher)

My take:  A Nantucket Christmas begins with a heart-tugging, Disneyesque scene of an abandoned dog looking for his family. Then the book moves on to the warm, cozy home of older newlyweds getting ready for their first Christmas together. Their bliss is interrupted with the arrival of a spoiled, immature, very pregnant step-daughter who seems intent on reuniting her father and mother. And then the weather takes a dramatic turn. Oh boy! The drama unfolds at a brisk pace that continues to the very end.

Nancy Thayer’s Nantucket setting is so inviting it made me want to plan an off-season visit! It provides a charming backdrop to the often frantic goings on at the Somerset home.

I liked A Nantucket Christmas but recommend you read it on a calm day when you can curl up in your favorite chair with a warm cup of cocoa. You’ll want to be relaxed in your own world as you read about this particular Christmas.

Expected publication:  Oct. 29, 2013

Starry Night: A Christmas Novel by Debbie Macomber

starry night

  • Title:  Starry Night: A Christmas Novel
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  October 2013 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  ’Tis the season for romance, second chances, and Christmas cheer with this new novel from #1 New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber.
 
Carrie Slayton, a big-city society-page columnist, longs to write more serious news stories. So her editor hands her a challenge: She can cover any topic she wants, but only if she first scores the paper an interview with Finn Dalton, the notoriously reclusive author. 
 
Living in the remote Alaskan wilderness, Finn has written a megabestselling memoir about surviving in the wild. But he stubbornly declines to speak to anyone in the press, and no one even knows exactly where he lives.
 
Digging deep into Finn’s past, Carrie develops a theory on his whereabouts. It is the holidays, but her career is at stake, so she forsakes her family celebrations and flies out to snowy Alaska. When she finally finds Finn, she discovers a man both more charismatic and more stubborn than she even expected. And soon she is torn between pursuing the story of a lifetime and following her heart.
 
Filled with all the comforts and joys of Christmastime, Starry Night is a delightful novel of finding happiness in the most surprising places. (publisher)

My take:  Starry Night is pure Romance. I love the cover and the story inside charmed me. I’m a fan of Christmas romances and this one didn’t disappoint.

Debbie Macomber had me cheering for Carrie and Finn as they worked their stubborn ways through this short novel and, of course, to a happy ending.

Set against the backdrops of Chicago, Seattle, and the wilds of Alaska. and with a slight nod to O. Henry’s The Gift of the Magi, Starry Night is typical Debbie Macomber.  It’s a G-rated Romance and I recommend it to fans of the author and genre.

Letters from Skye by Jessica Brockmole

letters from skye

  • Title:  Letters from Skye
  • Author:  Jessica Brockmole
  • Genre:  Historical Fiction; Epistolary
  • Published:  July 2013 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

Synopsis:  March 1912: Twenty-four-year-old Elspeth Dunn, a published poet, has never seen the world beyond her home on Scotland’s remote Isle of Skye. So she is astonished when her first fan letter arrives, from a college student, David Graham, in far-away America. As the two strike up a correspondence—sharing their favorite books, wildest hopes, and deepest secrets—their exchanges blossom into friendship, and eventually into love. But as World War I engulfs Europe and David volunteers as an ambulance driver on the Western front, Elspeth can only wait for him on Skye, hoping he’ll survive.
 
June 1940: At the start of World War II, Elspeth’s daughter, Margaret, has fallen for a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Her mother warns her against seeking love in wartime, an admonition Margaret doesn’t understand. Then, after a bomb rocks Elspeth’s house, and letters that were hidden in a wall come raining down, Elspeth disappears. Only a single letter remains as a clue to Elspeth’s whereabouts. As Margaret sets out to discover where her mother has gone, she must also face the truth of what happened to her family long ago.  (publisher)

My take:  When a poet living on the Isle of Skye receives a letter from a fan in the US neither has a clue to what has begun – a friendship that will become much more. Letters from Skye is an epistolary novel about Scottish poet Elspeth Dunn and American David Graham. She’s in her mid-twenties and married and he’s a few years younger – still in college. But they are on equal ground in most other things. Their letters begin during WWI before the US enters the war. Elspeth’s husband soon enlists and leaves for the front. David and Elspeth continue to correspond sharing their secrets, hopes, and dreams.
I loved reading their letters that told everything from the goings on of their everyday lives to life-changing world events. Woven into the book are letters from Elspeth’s daughter Margaret (a young woman in her twenties) to her sweetheart Paul a (WWII) RAF pilot. So the eras have changed but some of the circumstances have not. The reason for the inclusion of their letters becomes clear as the novel progresses.
This is a very romantic novel – not romance in the modern sense (although there is that as well) but rather mostly in tone. There’s such longing in the letters. That longing was heightened by the lack of immediacy that comes from waiting weeks for another letter. For me that added to the enjoyment. I won’t say more about the novel because I think readers should find out what happens on their own.
If you like epistolary novels and this era I think you’ll like Letters from Skye.  Highly recommended.

Note:  A few pages in I decided to purchase the audiobook. I listened while I followed along with the print edition. If you like audiobooks I highly recommend you experience Letters from Skye that way. The narrators’ wonderful performances increased my enjoyment of the novel even more!

Audiobook info:

  • Title:  Letters from Skye: a novel
  • Author:  Jessica Brockmole
  • Narrators:  Elle Newlands, Katy Townsend, Lincoln Hoppe
  • Published:  July 2013 – Random House Audio

Rose Harbor in Bloom by Debbie Macomber

Rose Harbor in Bloom

  • Title:  Rose Harbor in Bloom  (Rose Harbor, #2)
  • Author:  Debbie Macomber
  • Genre:  Contemporary Fiction
  • Published:  August 2013 – Ballantine Books
  • Source:  Publisher

My take:  Jo Marie Rose purchased the Rose Harbor Inn after the death of her husband.  She dreamed that he told her it would be a place of healing – for her as well as guests.

In the second book of the Rose Harbor Inn series Jo Marie continues to deal with her grief. She also knows that she must go on so she tries her best to put one foot in front of the other. Her days are filled with greeting her guests:  a young event planner trying to forget her two-timing ex-fiancé by planning a party for her grandparents; the grandparents who bicker more than one would expect for a couple celebrating their 50th anniversary; and a quiet woman who is appears to be dealing with illness.

In addition to having a full house for the weekend, Jo Marie is readying the Inn for an open house the following week. As if she wasn’t feeling flustered enough with all the preparations, her abrasive handyman Mark injures himself in a fall and won’t have the rose garden ready for the event. Jo Marie has figured out how to deal with Mark’s rough demeanor: give it right back to him. It was fun to watch the two fall into a rhythm of verbal give and take. I wonder what the author has in store for these two!

I’m finding Jo Marie’s journey through grief to be emotional and relatable. I could identify with her feelings and think anyone who has suffered the loss of a loved one will do the same. I love the way Debbie Macomber tells a story and this is another winner. I can’t wait for the next book in the series.