Sunday Post

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Merry Christmas!

Book arrivals: (linked to Mailbox Monday)

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Last week on Bookfan:

  • Review:  The Trouble with Christmas

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Reading plan for this week:

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Bookfan extra:

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I finished listening to The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan (click link for my brief take).

 

The Trouble with Christmas by Debbie Mason

  • the-trouble-with-christmasTitle:  The Trouble with Christmas
  • Author:  Debbie Mason
  • Series:  Christmas, Colorado #1
  • Pages:  407
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published: September 2013 – Forever
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

 

My take:  When Madison Lane arrives at Christmas, Colorado the public perception is that she killed Christmas (thanks to a NY Times headline), ran over Santa on her way into town, and then ran over the sheriff’s aunt. Not a great entrance especially when she’s there to explain why her company won’t be investing in a new resort that would have been a boon to the town. The way the sheriff views it Madison has caused more problems for him in a couple of hours than he’s had to deal with in a year!

Hilarity ensues – making this novel perfect for a film version on the Hallmark Channel. There’s comedy, a bit of drama, and romance, of course, in a town called Christmas. I would watch that movie! Poor Madison is a trouble magnet – it just seems to follow wherever she goes and the poor sheriff is the one usually called to clean up after her. In addition to being sheriff, Gage is a divorced father with custody of his two young daughters. They’ve taken to Madison in an unexpected way – making it even more difficult to separate himself from her – because he doesn’t need any more drama in his life, does he?

I enjoyed this first book in Debbie Mason’s Christmas, Colorado series. If you’re a fan of contemporary romance and the author I think you’ll like it as much as I did.

Sweetest Regret: A Novella by Meredith Duran

  • sweetest-regretTitle:  Sweetest Regret: A Novella
  • Author:  Meredith Duran
  • Pages:  98 – Kindle edition
  • Genre:  Historical Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2016 – Pocket Star
  • Source:  purchased

My take:  This novella was originally part of the anthology: What Happens Under the Mistletoe and was recently released as a single short e-book.

Georgiana and Lucas find themselves together at a Christmas house party that was supposed to have been hosted by her father. They haven’t seen each other in two years and are not on good terms because of what happened two years ago. Lucas works for or with Georgiana’s father and has been given an assignment that involves the house party. There’s some animosity on the part of both and each feels justified in feeling that way. Their repartee was enjoyable. I normally find novellas lacking but I thought Meredith Duran did a great job developing her characters and story. If you enjoy historical romance novellas with a Christmas theme you might like Sweetest Regret. I’d love to read one of her full-length novels.

The Holiday Gift by RaeAnne Thayne

  • holiday-giftTitle:  The Holiday Gift
  • Series:  The Cowboys of Cold Creek
  • Author:  RaeAnne Thayne
  • Pages:  224
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2016 – Harlequin
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  With two kids and an active life, widow Faith Dustin only wants peace and quiet for Christmas. But her snowy Pine Gulch ranch is nothing but chaotic. All that keeps Faith going is her helpful neighbor, cowboy Chase Brannon. He’s always been “good ol’ Chase,” her faithful friend. Until he kisses her under the mistletoe… 

Years ago Chase blew his chance with the woman he’s loved since childhood. Now he’s determined to step out of the friend zone…and into the role of husband. But the scared and stubborn Faith won’t let herself fall. With Christmas just days away, Chase will need all the magic of the season—and the help of her two matchmaking children—to unwrap a second chance at love.  (publisher)

My take: The Holiday Gift is the third of the Nichols sisters’ books within the Cowboys of Cold Creek series. It can stand alone but I think you’d enjoy it a bit more if you read the previous two books ( The Christmas Ranch and A Cold Creek Christmas Story).

I love a good Christmas romance and this one didn’t disappoint – even despite Faith’s frustrating denial of her true feelings for Chase. But I trusted RaeAnne Thayne to bring her characters to a HEA and she didn’t let me down. The Idaho mountain ranch setting as described by Thayne is wonderfully inviting. It was fun to read about all the happenings at The Christmas Ranch and with Faith’s sisters.

The Holiday Gift is a lovely story and a satisfying completion to the Nichols sisters’ trilogy. Recommended to fans of the author, novels about families, and a nice Christmas romance.

A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe

  • a-lowcountry-christmas-tandem-litTitle:  A Lowcountry Christmas
  • Series:  Lowcountry Summer #5
  • Author:  Mary Alice Monroe
  • Genre:  Fiction; Christmas
  • Pages:  384
  • Published:  October 2016 – Gallery Books
  • Source:  Publisher; Tandem Literary

Description:  As far as ten-year-old Miller McClellan is concerned, it’s the worst Christmas ever. His father’s shrimp boat is docked, his mother is working two jobs, and with finances strained, Miller is told they can’t afford the dog he desperately wants. “Your brother’s return from war is our family’s gift,” his parents tell him. But when Taylor returns with PTSD, family tensions darken the holidays.

Heartbreak and financial stress threaten to destroy the spirit of the season until the miraculous gift of a service dog leads Taylor, his family, and their community on a healing journey to discover the true meaning of Christmas.  (publisher)

My take:  A Lowcountry Christmas is the first of Mary Alice Monroe’s books I’ve read. I thoroughly enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone looking for a special Christmas book to read this year. It’s the fifth book in a series but I can say, not having read the previous books, it can stand alone.

The McClellan family has welcomed home their son, a veteran with PTSD, and are all getting used to a new normal. On top of that, finances are strained which adds tension to the relationships between parents and children, spouses, and siblings. I loved how Monroe took her characters through their challenges and brought them to a satisfying result: mainly the true meaning of Christmas and what matters most.

A Lowcountry Christmas is truly lovely and I can see it becoming an annual read for me. I can think of a few people on my gift list who will love it. Highly recommended!


About the author:

Known for her intimate portrayals of women’s lives, Mary Alice Monroe is the New York Times bestselling author of more than a dozen novels, including The Summer Girls, The Summer Wind, The Summer’s  End, Last Light Over Carolina, Time is a River, Sweetgrass, Skyward, The Beach House, Beach House Memories, Swimming Lessons, The Four Seasons, and The Book Club. Her books have received numerous awards, including the 2008 South Carolina Center for the Book Award for Writing, the 2014 South Carolina Award for Literary Excellence, the 2015 SW Florida Author of Distinction Award, the RT Lifetime Achievement Award, and the International Book Award for Green Fiction.

An active conservationist, Monroe draws themes for her novels from nature and the parallels with human nature, thus drawing attention to various endangered species and the human connection to the natural world. Mary Alice is involved with several environmental groups and is on the board of the South Carolina Aquarium, the Leatherback Trust, and Charleston Volunteers for Literacy. She lives in the lowcountry of South Carolina. Visit her at MaryAliceMonroe.com and at Facebook.com/MaryAliceMonroe.

The 24 Days of Christmas by Linda Lael Miller

  • the-24-days-of-christmasTitle:  The 24 Days of Christmas
  • Author:  Linda Lael Miller
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance; Christmas
  • Published:  November 2016 – Lyrical Shine
  • Source:  Publisher; NetGalley

Description:  A matchbox advent calendar first brought Frank Rayner and Addie Hutton together. But that was years ago. Since then Addie has written herself out of her father’s will, gotten herself blacklisted as a reporter, and had her husband leave her for a younger woman. The only good decision she seems to have made is to move back home, even if Frank now owns that home and is renting the apartment over the garage to her. Not that she thinks there’s anything there. There’s no reason to get wrapped up in the holiday cheer. Because Christmas miracles are for the movies. Real life is about unexpected families—and the magic of true love—and could there be a happy ending after all?  (publisher)

My take:  This sweet story is a re-release of a novella previously included in  No Place Like Home and Jingle All The WayI hadn’t read either anthology so it was new to me.

The 24 days of Christmas was a quick read. It’s a second chance story about not giving up on your dreams – even dreams you didn’t know you had.

I think a novella is perfect for reading during the busy holiday season when you want to escape for a few minutes and don’t want to read anything heavy.  I’m a fan of Linda Lael Miller and got exactly what I expected from this story – a nice, romantic holiday tale that was light on drama and just the perfect amount of sweetness.

Mistletoe Cottage by Debbie Mason

  • Mistletoe Cottage (11:3 review)Title:  Mistletoe Cottage
  • Series:  Harmony Harbor #1
  • Author:  Debbie Mason
  • Genre:  Contemporary Romance
  • Pages:  352
  • Published:  October 2016 – Forever
  • Source:  Publisher

Description:  Sophie DiRossi loved growing up in Harmony Harbor. But after fleeing in disgrace many years ago, it is the last place she wants to be. Left homeless by a fire, she’s forced to go back to the small coastal town that harbors a million secrets, including her own. Sophie sees this secret reflected every day in her daughter’s blue eyes-and she must keep it hidden from the only man she has ever loved.

Sophie’s return is a shock for everyone . . . especially Liam Gallagher. The firefighter had some serious feelings for Sophie-and seeing her again sparks a desire so fierce it takes his breath away. Now Liam will do whatever it takes to show Sophie that they deserve a second chance at love, even if everything they’ve concealed threatens to keep them apart. In this special town at this special time of the year, Sophie and Liam can only hope for a little holiday magic . . .  (publisher)

My take:  When Sophie returns home to Harmony Harbor she brings her daughter Mia with her. No one knew about Mia until now so everyone has something to say – it’s a small town. Sophie worries what will happen if Mia’s father and his powerful family find out they’re related to her. Will Sophie lose her?

Fortunately for Sophie her luck starts to change when she is hired to manage Greystone Manor, the local inn which is not doing well. She and Mia can live there rent free as she begins her dream job. On day one she meets her former crush Liam Gallagher. His family owns the Greystone but he works as a firefighter. The Inn also employs some interesting characters and there may be a spirit or two hanging around. Really, this novel has a lot going on!

The book title comes from the raffle of a cottage (Mistletoe Cottage) on the Inn’s grounds. It’s decorated for Christmas and will hopefully raise enough money to keep the Inn afloat. The Gallagher matriarch Colleen has died and many of her heirs want to sell the place to a developer so Sophie really needs the raffle to be a huge success.

Mistletoe Cottage is the first in Debbie Mason’s new Harmony Harbor series.  We meet many characters who I’m sure will appear prominently in future books. I enjoyed it and recommend it to fans of the author and contemporary, small town romance – this one with a Christmas theme.