Christmas in July – Spotlight

I’ve accepted a few Christmas review galleys that will publish in September and October so I thought I’d shine a spotlight on them today. I’ll hold off on reading for a while but have to say I’m looking forward to each book!

Description

From May Kay Andrews, the New York Times bestselling author of Hello, Summer, comes a novella celebrating the magic of Christmas and second chances in The Santa Suit.

When newly-divorced Ivy Perkins buys an old farmhouse sight unseen, she is definitely looking for a change in her life. The Four Roses, as the farmhouse is called, is a labor of love—but Ivy didn’t bargain on just how much labor. The previous family left so much furniture and so much junk, that it’s a full-time job sorting through all of it. 

At the top of a closet, Ivy finds an old Santa suit—beautifully made and decades old. In the pocket of a suit she finds a note written in a childish hand: it’s from a little girl who has one Christmas wish, and that is for her father to return home from the war. This discovery sets Ivy off on a mission. Who wrote the note? Did the man ever come home? What mysteries did the Rose family hold?

Ivy’s quest brings her into the community, at a time when all she wanted to do was be left alone and nurse her wounds. But the magic of Christmas makes miracles happen, and Ivy just might find more than she ever thought possible: a welcoming town, a family reunited, a mystery solved, and a second chance at love.

Description

The reigning legendary queens of Regency Romance, bestselling authors Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney, deck the halls with this delightful Christmas collection of three sparkling holiday interconnected romances, as stranded travelers find merriment, mistletoe, and holiday romance awaiting at a quaint country inn…
 

THE UNEXPECTED GIFT by Madeline Hunter
Jenna Waverly has closed her inn, anticipating a blissfully quiet Christmas, until a snowstorm brings the first of several strangers to her property. Lucas Avonwood, as charming as he is secretive, is on a mission to track down a scoundrel, but the inn’s lovely owner is giving him a more compelling reason to stay…

WHEN WE FINALLY KISS GOOD NIGHT
 by Sabrina Jeffries
When Flora Younger first met Konrad Juncker, she thought she’d found her match, only to have her hopes dashed. Konrad is now a famous playwright whose plays Flora has secretly panned in reviews. But a chance meeting in a secluded inn may help them rewrite this star-crossed romance…

WHEN STRANGERS MEET by Mary Jo Putney
Kate Mcleod is shocked to find that her fellow guest in the snowbound inn is the dashing soldier who may or may not be her husband. Daniel Faringdon barely remembers that long-ago night when he rescued her from disaster, but the desire they discover now will be impossible to forget, or to ignore . . .

Description

Maybe this Christmas can thaw his frozen heart—and heal hers.

Hollywood starlet Tia Beckett knows one moment can change your life. Her career had been on the fast track before a near-fatal accident left her with a debilitating facial scar. Certain her A-lister dreams are over, she agrees to house-sit at her producer’s secluded estate in Silver Springs. It’s the escape from the limelight Tia’s been craving, until she discovers she’s not the only houseguest for the holidays. And her handsome new roomie is impossible to ignore.

Artist Seth Turner has good reason to keep his distance. Losing his wife after only a few years of marriage has left a deep scar, even if he is still happy to spend a semester teaching art classes at the New Horizons Boys Ranch for troubled teens. Despite nursing her own wounds, Tia finds her curiosity piqued by enigmatic Seth, whom she recognizes as something of a kindred soul. Maybe spending Christmas together could be another game changer for both of them—this time, for good.

Description

“[Thayne’s] books are wonderfully romantic, feel-good reads that end with me sighing over the last pages.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Celebrate the season with this sparkling holiday romance, perfect for fans of Debbie Macomber, Dorthea Benton Frank, and Nancy Thayer!

Ranch manager Annie McCade thought her twin niece and nephew could join her at the Angel View Ranch for Christmas with her absent employer being none the wiser. But when the ranch’s owner, Tate Sheridan, shows up out of the blue, Annie’s plans are upended. Soon she finds herself helping Tate make a Christmas to remember for his grieving and fractured extended family.

Sleigh Bells Ring is the latest heartwarming, festive Christmas story by New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne.

Description:

After a confession of murder, a sleuthing English teacher will need a Christmas miracle to prove a condemned man innocent

Colorful Christmas lights dapple the family homes in the idyllic lakeside town of Sweet Haven when Jennifer Dean, a young librarian at the local elementary school, is brutally murdered. There are witnesses and her boyfriend Travis Blake confesses to the crime… but something doesn’t quite add up. Blake is a third generation Army Ranger, awarded the Silver Star for his heroism in Afghanistan―how could a beloved son of this tight-knit burgh commit such a grisly deed?

As a community of military families a few miles down the road from an Army base, no one in Sweet Haven wants to investigate a war hero like Blake, not even the top brass at the police department. In steps Cameron Winter, a rugged and lonesome English professor haunted by the ghosts of his own Christmas past, whose former lover asks him to prove Blake innocent. The Sweet Haven murder reverberates in his mind, echoing a horrific yuletide memory from his youth, and Winter knows there are darker powers at play here than a simple domestic dispute. If he can solve this small-town mystery, just maybe he can find peace from his inner demons as well.

The thirty-sixth novel by two-time Edgar Award winner Andrew Klavan, When Christmas Comes is a seasonal tale of tradition, family, and murder; its chilling twists are best experienced curled up beside a burning Yule log.

Twelve Slays of Christmas

Twelve Slays of Christmas by Jacqueline Frost

published: October 2017 – Crooked Lane Books

Hoopla audio borrow/my Kindle shelf

Description:

When Holly White’s fiancé cancels their Christmas Eve wedding with less than two weeks to go, Holly heads home with a broken heart. Lucky for her, home in historic Mistletoe, Maine is magical during Christmastime—exactly what the doctor prescribed. Except her plan to drown her troubles in peppermints and snickerdoodles is upended when local grouch and president of the Mistletoe Historical Society Margaret Fenwick is bludgeoned and left in the sleigh display at Reindeer Games, Holly’s family tree farm.

When the murder weapon is revealed as one of the wooden stakes used to identify trees on the farm, Sheriff Evan Grey turns to Holly’s father, Bud, and the Reindeer Games staff. And it doesn’t help that Bud and the reindeer keeper were each seen arguing with Margaret just before her death. But Holly knows her father, and is determined to exonerate him.The jingle bells are ringing, the clock is ticking, and if Holly doesn’t watch out, she’ll end up on Santa’s naughty list in Twelve Slays of Christmas, Jacqueline Frost’s jolly series debut. (publisher)

My take:  Twelve Slays of Christmas was an entertaining cozy mystery. The small town Maine setting put me in a Murder She Wrote mood which wasn’t too far off base. I loved the timeline of pre-Christmas weeks and the annual Reindeer Games that provided a few plot direction possibilities. The jilted bride and the new-to-town sheriff had a nice chemistry. The red herrings abounded and I wasn’t sure who the murderer was until the reveal. I almost never do! This was the perfect cozy mystery to read during December. I loved the humor inserted by the author and delivered perfectly by narrator Allyson Ryan. If you’re looking for a fun holiday mystery I recommend you check out Twelve Slays of Christmas.


 

Wrapped Up In Christmas Joy

Wrapped Up In Christmas Joy by Janice Lynn

Narrated by Alexander Cendese and Rachel L. Jacobs

Published:  October 2020 – Dreamscape Media

Review audiobook courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

When a quilt shop owner finds a former Marine’s journal, she longs to heal his heart…


When Sophie Davis sorts through a box of donated books to her church, she’s surprised to discover a soldier’s journal. As the daughter of a veteran who watched her father struggle over the years, she feels a deep connection to the man who wrote the emotional entries. Former Marine Cole Aaron battled to find peace after returning to civilian life. He’s always needed to protect others. Now, fighting fires in Pine Hill, Kentucky helps him put out the demons within him. When Sophie shows up at the fire hall with his journal from when he’d first returned stateside, Cole can’t believe it was in the box he’d donated. Not wanting to face painful memories, he tells her to trash it. Sophie and Cole are drawn together as they both volunteer for their community, but it’s hard for Cole to let down his guard, and he doesn’t need anyone’s pity. After all he’s been through in the past, can he find faith in a more hopeful future…one touched by joy?
This heartwarming romance includes a free Hallmark original recipe for Dilly Duchess Potatoes. (publisher)

My take:  Wrapped Up in Christmas Joy is a heartfelt Christmas romance about Cole, a veteran, and Sophie, a young woman with a heart of gold. He is a firefighter who also fights his war memories. When Sophie discovers (and then reads) his journal in a box of donated things at her church’s sale she decides to involve him in holiday related activities. He’s reluctant but has a hard time saying no to Sophie. Saying yes could make all the difference. This is a sweet story for the season that fans of Hallmark movies are sure to enjoy!

Narration:  I thought, overall, Rachel Jacobs and Alexander Cendese did a good job. However, there was one thing that struck me. When Jacobs voiced Sophie and Cole I was totally invested in the story. When Cendese did both I was distracted by Sophie’s voice. I’ve found I usually feel the same when any male narrator voices a female character. I guess it’s personal preference.


 

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas

Happy publication day!

The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas by

Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn

Published:  October 27, 2020 – Kensington

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take:  I have no doubt fans of Historical Romance (American West) and authors Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace and Scarlett Dunn will enjoy this collection. It’s a great way to sample each author if you haven’t had a chance. I’m a fan of Jodi Thomas but Lovelace and Dunn are new to me and I look forward to reading more of their work.
I love an anthology at this busy time of year because I can read a complete story in a short time – this book hit the mark. It will tug your heartstrings and engage in an emotional and heartwarming way. If you enjoy historical romance, add The Cowboy Who Saved Christmas to your reading list this season.
***
Father Goose by Jodi Thomas
A young man, fresh out of the army and in need of a job, agrees to take a group of 5 young school girls to their father’s ranch in Texas. He must get them home before Christmas. Meanwhile, a young woman decides to escape her life of drudgery and signs on to chaperone the girls for the trip. This rag-tag group will make the arduous journey that could set the path of the future for them all.
*
The Mistletoe Promise by Sharla Lovelace
Two people with a history must overcome pride and learn to trust again. Told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Josie and Ben I learned their story and was soon hoping for their HEA.
*
Christmas Road by Scarlett Dunn
A veteran rides home hoping to see his ill mother for what could be her last Christmas. What he didn’t expect was to meet a young widow and mother of two girls who’d help nurse his mother. This a story of survival during challenging times and the honorable people who step up to help. A heartwarming tale about finding the magic of Christmas.

About the authors:

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and the first book in her new Honey Creek series, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café is out now. Please visit her at http://www.JodiThomas.com

Sharla Lovelace is the bestselling, award-winning author of sassy, sexy love stories. Being a Texas girl through and through, she’s proud to say she lives in Southeast Texas with her retired husband, a tricked-out golf cart, and two crazy dogs. She is the author of the exciting Heart of the Storm series, the fun and sexy Charmed in Texas series, and five stand-alone novels. Connect with Sharla at http://www.sharlalovelace.com, or find her on social media as @sharlalovelace at all the places! 

Before becoming a published author, Scarlett Dunn was an entrepreneur. Her love of history and the adventurous souls who settled the West inspired her to write historical inspirational romance novels. She lives in Kentucky, and as an avid outdoorswoman she enjoys any activity under the sun where she develops her characters and plots. Readers can find her at http://www.scarlettdunn.com or on Facebook, Twitter (scarlettdunn2), or Instagram.

THE COWBOY WHO SAVED CHRISTMAS
By Jodi Thomas, Sharla Lovelace, & Scarlett Dunn
Kensington Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing
On Sale: October 27th 2020/
Trade Paperback/Fiction $15.95 ($21.95 CAN) / 978-1-4967-2549-3

Return to Virgin River

Return to Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Expected publication:  October 13, 2020 – MIRA

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

My take:  After twelve years Robyn Carr takes readers back to her beloved fictional town of Virgin River, California.

In Return to Virgin River we meet Kaylee Sloan, an author with writer’s block brought on by the loss of her mother in the past year. Friends have graciously allowed Kaylee to stay at their vacation home in Virgin River so she can finish her book. When she arrives she finds the fire department extinguishing a fire that has left the home uninhabitable. Someone suggests she go to Jack’s Bar for a bite to eat and perhaps a lead on where she can find a new place to rent. The book takes off from there and I settled in for the enjoyable read I’ve come to expect from Robyn Carr. I loved catching up with several characters and places featured in previous books. And I loved seeing how Kaylee’s life changed in small ways that would impact the rest of her life. The Thanksgiving/Christmas theme played a big part in the book and led to the heartwarming ending.

Return to Virgin River is a lovely read for fans of the Virgin River series and Robyn Carr. Of course, I recommend reading the entire VR series but readers could jump in here and then go back. It’s one of my favorite series ever!


About the author:

Robyn Carr is the bestselling author of over 60 novels which have sold more than 28 million copies. Her beloved Virgin River series alone has netted more than 13 million copies; the Netflix television adaptation of Virgin River debuted in 2019 and has since become one of the streaming service’s most popular shows. Eleven of Robyn’s books have reached #1 on the New York Times bestseller list, collectively spending 250 weeks on the list since Virgin River made its debut there in 2008. In 2016, the Romance Writers of America recognized Robyn with the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2019, she was inducted into the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.


 

Christmas At Holiday House

Christmas at Holiday House by RaeAnne Thayne

Expected pub. date:  October 6, 2020 – HQN

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: A widowed young mother’s search for the perfect Christmas for her little boy leads her to Silver Bells, Colorado. Abby Powell becomes enamored with the heartwarming small-town community—with snow!—but not so much with her new client’s less-than-jolly son, Ethan Lancaster.

Ethan, a single-minded businessman, has learned the hard way that love and family are not for him. But he never counted on the lovely newcomer to town—or the emotional pull she and her son, Christopher, would have over him. As Ethan and Abby work together to restore Holiday House, the Lancaster’s historic family mansion, in time for Christmas, Ethan’s heart begins to open along with his home. (publisher)

My take:  When Abby Powell is contacted by Lucy, her former college roommate, she’s in the middle of packing up her Arizona home to move to Texas. Lucy’s grandmother fell and needs assistance in her home until Lucy can get home from abroad. Abby agrees to help and heads to Colorado with her young son for a few weeks. When she arrives she meets her client’s grandson Ethan who thinks his grandmother should be at a rehab center instead of in her home with a stranger. Abby is in an uncomfortable situation but will stay until Lucy arrives.

A little backstory: Abby’s life changed in a heartbeat by an event that made her a widow. She has an adorable son and is looking toward the future. Lucy and her brother Ethan had an unconventional upbringing by their parents, both narcissists, that left them with a screwed up view of relationships and an inability to have normal ones. It was easy to sympathize with them.

Christmas at Holiday House is set in a charming mountain resort town during the holidays. It’s a heartwarming tale about finding the courage to not allow fear to stand in the way of happiness. Fans of contemporary romance and RaeAnne Thayne are sure to love it. Recommended!


Re-Release Spotlight: A Texas Kind of Christmas

A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS, which originally came out last October, recently won first place at the National Federation of Press Women’s Communications Contest. It was re-released on September 29. You can read my original post here.

A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS

By Jodi Thomas, Celia Bonaduce, & Rachael Miles

Zebra Books, an imprint of Kensington Publishing

On Sale: September 29th 2020/

Mass Market Max/Fiction $8.99 ($10.90 CAN) / 978-1-4201-4869-5

LEGENDARY AUTHOR JODI THOMAS HEADLINES NEW CHRISTMAS COLLECTION WITH THREE CONNECTED STORIES FEATURING HISTORIC DALLAS HOTEL IN 1859, BUILT & MANAGED BY FASCINATING LOCAL WIDOW, SARAH COCKRELL 

 

It’s Christmas Eve, 1859, and everyone who is anyone is headed to the glorious St. Nicolas Hotel for the most talked about ball of the season… 

New York Times bestselling author Jodi Thomas headlines A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS, a holiday-themed collection of three connected stories set in 1859 Dallas and based on the true history of the St. Nicholas Hotel. Built and managed by Sarah Horton Cockrell, a Texan businesswoman known for her contributions to the development of the state, the famed St. Nicholas was one of the most fashionable, grand hotels of its time. In the hands of Jodi Thomas, Celia Bonaduce, and historian and novelist Rachael Miles, this real-life setting comes to life in three romantic tales infused with vivid imagery and witty prose. A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS evokes the grandeur of a bygone era and the indomitable pioneer spirit of the region and is sure to be the fan favorite romance collection of the Christmas season.


About the authors:

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and the first book in her new Honey Creek series, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café is out now. Please visit her at http://www.JodiThomas.com

Celia Bonaduce, also the author of The Venice Beach Romances and the Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas series, has always had a love affair with houses. Her credits as a television field producer include such house-heavy hits as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; HGTV’s House Hunters and Tiny House Hunters. She lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband and dreams of one day traveling with him in their own tiny house. She can be found online http://www.CeliaBonaduce.com

Rachael Miles is an acclaimed romance novelist and historian specializing in the 19th century, as well as a professor of literary history. A fifth-generation Texan and native of Dallas, she now lives and teaches in New York. Visit her online at http://www.RachaelMiles.com.


THE HISTORY BEHIND A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS: 

➢ Sarah Horton Cockrell opened the St. Nicholas Hotel in 1859 under her own management, one year after her husband, Alex Cockrell, died at the hands of a Dallas sheriff. It was known as one of the most fashionable, grand hotels of its time until it burned down in the Dallas Fire of 1860. It was the first building constructed taller than two stories and the crowning social event Dallas society was the grand ball with which it made its debut. Sarah Horton Cockrell named the hotel after the man she chose as its manager – Nicholas H. Darnell, a captain in the Indian wars of 1839, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Texas Congress of 1842, and Lieutenant Governor elected in the first state election of 1846. 

Sarah Horton Cockrell (1819-1892) 

➢ An astute businesswoman, real estate maven and transportation pioneer whose wealth and power defied gender conventions of the time, Sarah Horton Cockrell went on to own nearly 1⁄4 of Downtown Dallas, opening the Dallas Hotel (later known as the St. Charles), a number of flour mills and other businesses. She constructed the first iron bridge across the Trinity, leading to enormous economic development for the state. 

➢ After Sarah Horton Cockrell’s death in 1892, The Dallas Morning News’s obituary stated that her funeral procession and floral tributes were among the largest ever seen in Dallas.


A Heartfelt Christmas Promise

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise by Nancy Naigle

Expected publication:  September 29, 2020 – St. Martin’s Griffin

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Vanessa Larkin was supposed to be spending Christmas in Paris, France on a business trip she hoped to enjoy as a working vacation. Instead, she’s been assigned to Fraser Hills, North Carolina—home of the Best Fruitcake in the USA—to convert her company’s property into warehouse space and shut down Porter’s, the fruitcake factory. Offering retirement packages and selling locals on new job opportunities may not spread holiday cheer, but Vanessa believes she’s helping secure the town’s future.

Mike Marshall’s family founded Porter’s. For decades, the factory served as the lifeblood of the community until his grandfather sold the business to a Chicago corporation. The sale cost the town its independence—and the Marshalls their family ties. A horse farmer, Mike was never involved with his grandfather’s company, but still felt Fraser Hills lost part of its identity. And as a widower raising a teenage daughter, he’s suffered enough losses in one lifetime. News of the factory’s closing means losing another piece of the town’s legacy.

Far from the skyscrapers and rapid pace of the city, Vanessa finds herself enjoying the easygoing rhythms of rural living. With Mike as her guide, she learns to appreciate the simple pleasures found in shared holiday festivities among friends. Fraser Hills is a town she is growing to love—and Mike is someone she is falling in love with. Now all Vanessa needs is a Christmas miracle to give her newfound friends and home a gift they’ll cherish for many New Years to come. (publisher)

My take:

When a Chicago company acquires a North Carolina fruitcake company they send Vanessa to transition the small company into, well, she has one idea and the employees have another. Things are tense. She’s been a city girl all her life and has plans for a nice vacation when this assignment is completed. She didn’t expect to fall in love with the place!

A Heartfelt Christmas Promise is my kind of Christmas novel. It has a charming small town, a little drama, a little romance and an adorable puppy. Recommended!


 

The Christmas Table

The Christmas Table by Donna VanLiere

Expected pub. date:  October 6, 2020 – St. Martin’s Press

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

In June 1972, John Creighton determines to build his wife Joan a kitchen table. His largest project to date had been picture frames but he promises to have the table ready for Thanksgiving dinner. Inspired to put something delicious on the table, Joan turns to her mother’s recipes she had given to Joan when she and John married.

In June 2012, Lauren Mabrey discovers she’s pregnant. Gloria, Miriam, and the rest of her friends at Glory’s Place begin to pitch in, helping Lauren prepare their home for the baby. On a visit to the local furniture builder, Lauren finds a table that he bought at a garage sale but has recently refinished. Once home, a drawer is discovered under the table which contains a stack of recipe cards. Growing up in one foster home after another, Lauren never learned to cook and is fascinated as she reads through the cards. Personal notes have been written on each one from the mother to her daughter and time and again Lauren wonders where they lived, when they lived, and in a strange way, she feels connected to this mother and her daughter and wants to make the mother proud.

The story continues to from 1972 to 2012 as Joan battles breast cancer and Lauren learns to cook, preparing for the baby’s arrival. As Christmas nears, can Lauren unlock the mystery of the table, and find the peace she’s always longed for? (publisher)

My take:  The Christmas Table is a heartwarming story about the importance of connections via a beautiful handmade table. It’s also about family recipes passed down from generation to generation.

Told from two POVs the story moves between 1972 when a young wife and mother is battling cancer and 2012 when a young woman is figuring out life as a new wife. It was easy to relate to the importance of sharing a meal around a family table and the specific recipes shared through the generations.

I enjoyed it all and was happy to find several recipes from the story included at the end. The Christmas Table would be a great gift for the women’s fiction book lover in your life this holiday season.


 

Promises Of Tomorrow

Promises of Tomorrow by Shelley Shepard Gray

Expected Pub. date:  July 6, 2020 – Gallery Books

E-galley courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description:

Two years have passed since their friend Andy’s death, and the Eight is still struggling to cope with their loss. In an attempt to give the group some time to reconnect with one another, remember their friend, and reflect on the last two years, Marie decides that a relaxing couple’s getaway is just what they need before the craziness of the holiday season begins. When their large cabin in the woods turns out to be more rundown than rustic, though, Marie fears that she’s ruined everything, but at least, she thinks, the trip can’t get any worse—that is, until a lost English girl named Beth appears at the cabin. And with such heavy snow, the Eight is forced to take her in for the next twenty-four hours.

Although Marie feels as if all her planning and good intentions were for nothing, she has no idea that Beth will give the group a gift they didn’t know they needed: the reminder that life may not always be fair and sometimes it’s painful, but there’s always another day. (publisher)

My take:  Normally I don’t read or post about Christmas books in the middle of the year but Promises of Tomorrow published this week so I hope you’ll indulge me. This is a novella and book 4.5 of the Walnut Creek series.

A close-knit group of young married couples (the Eight) still dealing with the death of one of their friends two years previous work through their feelings at a pre-Christmas getaway. Their rental cabin doesn’t quite meet expectations but they make the best of it. The arrival of a young woman during a snowstorm adds a layer of tension but could also be an unexpected blessing.

Tragedy, faith, and the miracle of Christmas all combine in a novella that fans of the Walnut Creek series are sure to enjoy.


About the author:

A practicing Lutheran, Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author of more than eighty novels, translated into multiple languages. In her years of researching the Amish community, she depends on her Amish friends for gossip, advice, and cinnamon rolls. She lives in Colorado with her family and writes full time.


 

Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Christmas in Silver Springs by Brenda Novak

Published:  October 2019 – MIRA

Digital galley courtesy of MIRA and NetGalley

Description: Come home to Silver Springs for the holidays, where broken hearts learn to love again…together.

So much for forever. When Harper Devlin’s rock star husband ditches her on his way to the top, she takes her two daughters to her sister’s place in Silver Springs for the holidays, hoping family can heal her broken heart. But comfort comes in unexpected places when she crosses paths with local Tobias Richardson.

The moment Tobias spots Harper, he recognizes a sadness he knows all too well. After spending thirteen years in prison paying for his regretful past, Tobias is ready to make amends, and maybe helping Harper is the way to do it. But offering her a shoulder to cry on ignites a powerful attraction and a desire neither saw coming.

Fearing her reaction, Tobias doesn’t reveal his checkered past. He’s falling hard, and if Harper finds out, he’ll lose her for good, especially because her famous ex is now trying to win her back. Secrets have a way of coming out, but maybe this Christmas will bring Tobias the forgiveness—and the love—he deserves. (publisher)

My take:  Christmas in Silver Springs is book 6 in Brenda Novak’s Silver Springs series. It could stand alone but there are characters who figure into this novel who were featured in previous books so if you’ve read the series in order you’ll appreciate the context even more.

Tobias Richardson is looking for a second chance at life. He paid the price for horrible choices and results when he was a teen. Now released from prison he yearns that fresh start and he wants to make amends. He didn’t count on meeting Harper. She doesn’t know anything about his past but knows she likes the person he is. Recently divorced and the mother of two young girls she’s spending the Christmas holiday in Silver Springs with her sister and family. Can this new friendship with Tobias grow into something more? What happens when Harper’s ex-husband has second thoughts about their divorce? Tobias’s past might come back to haunt him and could effect his relationship with Harper.

If you’re a fan of the series I think you’ll enjoy the latest installment. I like a character who earns a second chance at a good life. Tobias was easy to cheer on.


BIO: Brenda Novak, a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author, has penned over sixty novels. She is a six-time nominee for the RITA Award and has won the National Reader’s Choice, the Bookseller’s Best, the Bookbuyer’s Best, and many other awards. She also runs Brenda Novak for the Cure, a charity to raise money for diabetes research (her youngest son has this disease). To date, she’s raised $2.5 million. For more about Brenda, please visit http://www.brendanovak.com.

SOCIAL LINKS:

TWITTER: @Brenda_Novak

FB: @BrendaNovakAuthor

Insta: @authorbrendanovak 

Goodreads

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 

Indiebound

Amazon

Barnes & Noble 

Books-A-Million

Target

Walmart

Google

iBooks

Kobo


 

 

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

An Alaskan Christmas by Jennifer Snow

Published:  September 2019 – HQN

Digital galley courtesy of HQN and NetGalley

Description: In Alaska, it’s always a white Christmas—but the sparks flying between two reunited friends could turn it red-hot…

If there’s one gift Erika Sheraton does not want for Christmas, it’s a vacation. Ordered to take time off, the workaholic surgeon reluctantly trades in her scrubs for a ski suit and heads to Wild River, Alaska. Her friend Cassie owns a tour company that offers adventures to fit every visitor. But nothing compares to the adrenaline rush Erika feels on being reunited with Cassie’s brother, Reed Reynolds.

Gone is the buttoned-up girl Reed remembers. His sister’s best friend has blossomed into a strong, skilled, confident woman. She’s exactly what his search-and-rescue team needs—and everything he didn’t know he craved. The gulf between his life in Wild River and her big-city career is wide. But it’s no match for a desire powerful enough to melt two stubborn hearts… (publisher)

My take: Dr. Erika Sheraton is devoted to her career. She’s a surgeon at a large hospital in Anchorage, Alaska. When ordered to take a two week vacation (something she’s never done) she heads back to the Alaska mountain town where she grew up. She stays with her best friend who just happens to have a handsome brother, Reed. They have an instant attraction that continues to grow into something neither of them expected. He’s on the area Search and Rescue team which figures prominently in the plot. I liked the main characters, the challenges and decisions they faced, and enjoyed how Jennifer Snow brought them to their HEA. I look forward to book two in the Wild River series.


Author Bio: Jennifer Snow lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband and four year old son. She is a member of the RWA, the Alberta Writers Guild, Canadian Authors Association and SheWrites.org. Her first Brookhollow book was a finalist in the Heart of Denver Aspen Gold contest and the Golden Quill Award. More information can be found at http://www.jennifersnowauthor.com.

Social Links:

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Twitter: @JenniferSnow18

Facebook: @jennifersnowbooks

Instagram: @jensnowauthor

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Low Country Christmas by Lee Tobin McClain

Low Country Christmas by Lee Tobin McClain

Published:  September 2019 – HQN

Book courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley

Description: Holly Gibson has one wish this Christmas season: to find her young niece’s father. And she’s traveled hundreds of miles to the small town of Safe Haven to make that wish come true. But the mysterious Cash O’Dwyer is nothing like she expected. Strong and kind, he makes her heart beat faster. And suddenly that little secret she’s keeping about her sister stirs up all kinds of guilt…

Cash is stunned—and more than a little wary—to discover he’s a father. Having a family of his own was never part of his plan…until sweet baby Penny and her fiercely independent aunt Holly arrive in town. Now he’s trimming trees and stuffing stockings for three. But when the ghosts of Cash’s past threaten the future of his fragile new family, he’ll do whatever it takes to be the father Penny needs—and the man Holly deserves—for more than just the holidays. (publisher)

My take: At first glance Cash O’Dwyer seems to have everything. He has a successful career and a great relationship with his brothers and their families. That has always been good enough until the day he finds out he has a daughter. That’s a game changer he hadn’t expected. What will he do now that life has thrown a curve ball?

This is a story about figuring out what’s important and why. As in the previous novels in the series there’s a little romance, a little drama and a warm, cozy ending. Although Low Country Christmas can stand alone I’m glad I read all three in order because there are a few secondary plot points that continue throughout the series.


 

A Texas Kind of Christmas

A Texas Kind of Christmas by 

Jodi Thomas  Celia Bonaduce   Rachel Miles

Expected publication:  Oct. 29, 2019 – Kensington Books

Book courtesy of the Kensington and NetGalley

Description:

It’s Christmas Eve, 1859, and everyone who’s anyone is headed to the glorious St. Nicholas Hotel for the most talked about ball of the season. It’s the kind of Texas night where anything can happen—even love . . .
 
ONE NIGHT AT THE ST. NICHOLAS
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jodi Thomas
 To escape her stepmother’s plot to marry her off, Texas heiress Jacqueline Hartman spends Christmas Eve sharing a hideout with an accused bank robber. After a night in Nathaniel Ward’s arms, Jacqueline is certain she has met her match after all. But will his heartfelt promise of love lead to his demise at the hands of the law?
 
BIRDIE’S FLIGHT * Celia Bonaduce
Seamstress Birdie Flanagan gets the surprise of her life when she receives a beautiful gown—and a sudden invitation—for the ball of the season! Birdie creates a stir from the moment she arrives, capturing the eye of the dashing Captain Douglas Fairbanks.  But will a secret from her past keep her from her long-awaited happily-ever-after?
 
SPIRIT OF TEXAS * Rachael Miles
When lovely spinster Eugenie Charpentier makes a trip across the Texas frontier with former Texas Ranger Asher Graham, she dreams of an adventure, and the rough-and-tumble cowboy is happy to oblige. But both Eugenie and the rugged lawman are keeping secrets. Can they find each other—and love—on the dance floor at the Christmas ball?  (publisher)

My take:  What initially sold me on this book was seeing Jodi Thomas’s name. I think it’s the first time I’ve ready anything by Celia Bonaduce and Rachael Miles. It turned out to be a great introduction because I’ve added them both to my TBR list. I’m a fan of historical romance of this era and a US setting and I’m glad to have found new-to-me authors. I enjoyed their writing style.

The connection shared by the three novellas is a Christmas Ball hosted at the grand Dallas hotel, The St. Nicholas. It is the destination and main setting for the characters but Christmas plays a minor role. At the forefront are well-to-do fathers looking to marry off their daughters, a financially independent spinster who might have found her soul mate, and the terrible beauty that is the Texas terrain. I enjoyed each story and recommend the book to fans of the authors and historical romance.


THE HISTORY BEHIND A TEXAS KIND OF CHRISTMAS: 

➢ Sarah Horton Cockrell opened the St. Nicholas Hotel in 1859 under her own management, one year after her husband, Alex Cockrell, died at the hands of a Dallas sheriff. It was known as one of the most fashionable, grand hotels of its time until it burned down in the Dallas Fire of 1860. It was the first building constructed taller than two stories and the crowning social event Dallas society was the grand ball with which it made its debut. Sarah Horton Cockrell named the hotel after the man she chose as its manager – Nicholas H. Darnell, a captain in the Indian wars of 1839, Speaker of the House of Representatives in the Texas Congress of 1842, and Lieutenant Governor elected in the first state election of 1846. 

Sarah Horton Cockrell (1819-1892) 

➢ An astute businesswoman, real estate maven and transportation pioneer whose wealth and power defied gender conventions of the time, Sarah Horton Cockrell went on to own nearly 1⁄4 of Downtown Dallas, opening the Dallas Hotel (later known as the St. Charles), a number of flour mills and other businesses. She constructed the first iron bridge across the Trinity, leading to enormous economic development for the state. 

➢ After Sarah Horton Cockrell’s death in 1892, The Dallas Morning News’s obituary stated that her funeral procession and floral tributes were among the largest ever seen in Dallas.


ABOUT THE AUTHORS 

Jodi Thomas is a New York Times bestselling author and fifth-generation Texan who sets many of her award-winning stories in her home state, where her grandmother was born in a covered wagon. A multi-RITA Award winner and member of the prestigious Romance Writers of America Hall of Fame, she’s written over 50 novels with millions of copies in print. Her most recent releases are The Little Tea Shop on Main and her historical anthology, A Texas Kind of Christmas (Nov. 2019). The first book in her new series with Kensington, Breakfast at the Honey Creek Café, comes out May 2020. Please visit her at http://www.JodiThomas.com.


Celia Bonaduce, also the author of The Venice Beach Romances and the Welcome to Fat Chance, Texas series, has always had a love affair with houses. Her credits as a television field producer include such house-heavy hits as Extreme Makeover: Home Edition; HGTV’s House Hunters and Tiny House Hunters. She lives in Santa Monica, CA, with her husband and dreams of one day traveling with him in their own tiny house. She can be found online http://www.CeliaBonaduce.com

Rachael Miles is an acclaimed romance novelist and historian specializing in the 19th century, as well as a professor of literary history. A fifth-generation Texan and native of Dallas, she now lives and teaches in New York. Visit her online at http://www.RachaelMiles.com.


Meet Jodi Thomas, Rachael Miles & Celia Bonaduce at these Upcoming Events! 

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 @ 6pm DALLAS WOMAN’S FORUM at the Alexander Mansion of Dallas Cocktails and Hors d’oeuvres with Jodi Thomas, Rachael Miles & Celia Bonaduce (Author Talk, followed by Q&A and Book Signing) 4607 Ross Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204 

Thursday, November 21, 2019 @ 11am DALLAS WOMAN’S FORUM at the Alexander Mansion of Dallas Luncheon with Jodi Thomas, Rachael Miles & Celia Bonaduce (Author Talk, followed by Q&A and Book Signing) 4607 Ross Avenue Dallas, Texas 75204 

Thursday November 21, 2019 @ 6pm INTERABANG BOOKS 10720 Preston Rd #1009B Dallas, TX 75230 

Saturday, November 23, 2019 @ 11am DALLAS ARBORETUM – Rosine Hall 8525 Garland Rd. Dallas, Texas 75218


 

 

25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

25 Days ‘Til Christmas by Poppy Alexander

Published:  October 2019 – William Morrow Paperbacks

Book courtesy of the publisher

Description:  Kate Potter used to love Christmas. A few years ago, she would have been wrapping her presents in September and baking mince pies on Halloween, counting down the days and hours to Christmas. But that was before Kate’s husband left for the army and never came home. Now she can hardly stand December at all.

Kate can’t deny she’s lonely, yet she doesn’t think she’s ready for romance. She knows that her son, Jack, needs a Christmas to remember—just like Kate needs a miracle to help her finally move forward with her life. So she’s decided if there isn’t a miracle on its way, she’ll just have to make her own.

As Kate’s advent countdown to the best Christmas ever begins, she soon realizes that even with the best laid plans, you can’t plan for the unexpected. For when the path of the loneliest woman in town crosses with that of the loneliest man, these two destined hearts might find a way to save the holiday for both of them. (publisher)

My take:  Kate, a widow and mother of a young son, has the weight of the world on her shoulders and then she has to take on more when her job is threatened by a lecherous boss, her grandmother’s nursing home costs skyrocket, and her son Jack is being placed in a school that will do him no good at all. All she wants is to give Jack a happy Christmas.

Daniel is spending his first Christmas without his sister. His parents died years earlier and he took care of Zoe who had Down Syndrome and succumbed to a heart ailment. He’s a good man looking at where his life might go now that he’s on his own.

This book is about lonely people meeting and what happens when they open themselves to new connections. It’s an emotional story that tugged the heartstrings and I thought the fairytale ending seemed just right for the season.


About the author:

Poppy Alexander wrote her first book when she was five. There was a long gap in her writing career while she was at school, and after studying classical music at university, she decided the world of music was better off without her and took up public relations, campaigning, political lobbying and a bit of journalism instead. She takes an anthropological interest in family, friends and life in her West Sussex village (think, The Archers crossed with Twin Peaks) where she lives with her husband, children and various other pets. Poppy also writes as Rosie Howard and Sarah Waights.


 

Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas (plus a note from the author)

Readers often ask me where my characters come from.  Most simply just walk in my brain and introduce themselves.  I learn their stories and secrets kind of like the readers do, a bit at a time.  But in CHRISTMAS IN WINTER VALLEY, it was different for one character, TYE FRANKLIN.

I met a man who owned a wonderful bookstore in Terrell, Texas.  There was something about him that made me ask, “Did you ever rodeo?”

He moved forward in his chair, spread his legs apart and answered.  The love of rodeo was still there after twenty years.  His body and mind was setting a horse even though we were in a restaurant as he told me of the thrills and heartaches.  The adrenaline, the fun, the pain.
 
My character Tye came alive in my mind and I loved his story in CHRISTMAS IN WINTER VALLEY.
Jodi Thomas

Christmas in Winter Valley by Jodi Thomas

Published:  September 24, 2019 – HQN

Book courtesy of HQN and NetGalley

Description:  Cooper Holloway would take nature over people any day—especially visiting relatives. That’s why he’s headed for a rustic cabin in remote Winter Valley, where he’ll care for a herd of wild mustangs. But Cooper’s plans are quickly thwarted by the arrival of two unexpected guests: one, a stranger in desperate need of his help, and the other, a very attractive young veterinarian.

Elliott is busy trying to keep Maverick Ranch running smoothly with Cooper gone, which is no easy task with family visiting. And when a long-lost love suddenly reappears in his life, Elliott knows he’ll have more than just books to balance this season.

With a big, chaotic family Christmas around the corner and love blooming in surprising ways, the Holloway men will have to make big choices about the future—just in time for the holidays.(publisher)

My take:  It’s two weeks before Christmas and all across the Maverick Ranch creatures and cowboys are stirring. The Holloway brothers (introduced to readers in book 7 of the Ransom Canyon series) are busy running the family ranch, seeing to horses, and visiting in-laws out of town. They don’t have time for orphans, accidents, injuries and ex girlfriends but they’ll be forced to deal with all and then some. My favorite part of the book involved young Tatum and the ranchers who show him what family is all about. And I loved Tye and his growing relationship with the ranch cook. Christmas in Winter Valley is a charming and romantic book perfect to curl up with this Christmas season. Fans of Jodi Thomas will not be disappointed.


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