Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: One Enchanted Noel by Melissa Tagg

193Secrets, Sparks and Second Chances…a Heartwarming Holiday Romance

Seb Pierce isn’t exactly a cowboy, but after fifteen years on a ranch in Texas, he might as well be. And he’d do just about anything to keep the rancher who took him in so many years ago from losing his land…including returning to the wealthy roots he’s long since abandoned. Seb agrees to work for his stern grandfather for one year in return for an early draw on his inheritance. But he never expected the agreement to land him in a quirky small town in Iowa at Christmas-time, renovating a dilapidated theater…and running into a woman he never thought he’d see again. She might not remember him, but he remembers her.

After too many years away from her hometown—and too many failures to count—Leigh Renwycke is finally back in Maple Valley and living the stable life she used to wish for. If only she could shake the old restlessness that used to get her into trouble. When Seb Pierce waltzes into her world and begs for her help planning the theater’s holiday reopening, it could be the solution to her discontent. If she pulls it off, it might be enough to jumpstart a new career…and to prove once and for all that the new-and-improved Leigh is here to stay. 

But between old secrets and new sparks, restoring a town treasure in time for Christmas may not be as easy as it seems…especially once Leigh learns the truth about Seb. 

What I Loved: There’s nothing like coming to a satisfying ending to a beloved series. One Enchanted Noel was one of those moments.
Once again, we find ourselves watching a previous “bad girl” pull her act together. By the time we meet Leigh, she’s done with her drug abuse but her past sins still haunt her and steal away her joy. It was refreshing to walk alongside Leigh as she discovered just how forgiving our Lord and her friends and family can be.
One Enchanted Noel is a warm Christmas story just perfect for curling up with during your downtime. And if you haven’t read the first two books of the series, I recommend you start at the beginning. One Enchanted Noel can be understood as a standalone, but I have a feeling you won’t want to miss a moment with the Renwycke family.

Rating and Recommendation: I give it 5 stars and recommend it to those who enjoy Christmas novellas or Christian Contemporary.

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Posted in Book Reviews

Holly, Ivy, and Intrigue: A Christmas Novella Set

189Christmas Murder Mix-Up

“I have to get rid of her now.”

After four months of a blissful marriage, Paige is devastated to overhear her husband, Cooper, say those words to his best friend. Because of a suspicious Christmas gift, a gas leak, and a home invasion, Paige’s love for Cooper is tested to the limit. Will their marriage survive the Christmas Murder Mix-up?

Holiday Pursuit

When Brianna Rockwell’s brother finds himself in danger and disappears three days before Christmas, she does everything to rescue him. Brianna dodges bullets, escapes fire, and even turns to her longtime crush for help. But the closer she gets to solving the mystery and finding her only sibling, the more desperate someone gets to silence her forever…

A Holiday Intruder

Kelsey Jordan prefers upcycling junk and refinishing antiques for her store in a Georgia mountains town to being the center of attention. When a robbery and an unknown benefactor shove her in the middle of a decades-old mystery, and a real estate developer and a former baseball star compete for her attention, Kelsey isn’t sure who to trust.

My Thoughts: All together, this was a cozy read. The first two stories start off with a bang and include lots of fast-paced action and even some shootouts. The third one carried more of a family mystery. Each story brought a little romance to the table. As well as a sound Christian message. The novellas are not connected so it makes it easier to pick up or set aside during the busy holiday season.

Christmas Murder Mix-up: This starts off in an almost comical way, but things turn deadly pretty quickly. This was a very interesting, original story.

Holiday Pursuit: Wow! Talk about starting off with a bang. Bullets are flying on the very first page and the story doesn’t slow down much from there.

A Holiday Intruder: This one was more relaxed in terms of action. The love triangle made it a favorite of mine.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving Holly, Ivy, and Intrigue 4 stars and recommending it to those who enjoy a bit of action with their Christmas novellas.

~ I received a copy from the publisher. I was not compensated for this review. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Regency Brides Collection

180Romance is a delicate dance bound by rules and expectations in Regency England…
Seven couples must navigate society’s gauntlet to secure the hand of true love….

Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago.
Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism.
Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans.
Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret.
Esther is empowered to choose between two men.
Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash.
Jamie and William face a daunting London season together.

Will their faith grow and love prevail in a time when both were considered luxuries the elite could not afford?

Overall this was a really enjoyable collection. There were a few minor hiccups but with a collection this large, that’s bound to be the case. I feel comfortable recommending this one to fellow Regency lovers. Each of the stories were unique and unrelated. That makes it easier to pick it up and read one story at a time in between larger novels. I enjoyed being drawn into the Regency world with each individual author. There were a couple stories that felt more shallow to me but overall the set falls into the 4-4.5 star category with some obvious 5 star stories. Here are some of the highlights:

First Comes Marriage by Amanda Barratt: Charity and Luke are strangers who were forced to marry three years ago.
This was such a charming story and a great start to the set. If you enjoy a story where the couple marries before falling in love, this one fits the bill! And the spiritual theme was forgiveness.

Masquerade Melody by Angela Bell: Adelaide and Walter share a love of music and disdain for elitism. There was a Cinderella type of quality to Bell’s novella that I found delightful. And her message on trusting God when things don’t go as you plan was spot on.

Three Little Matchmakers by Susanne Dietze: Caroline and Henry are thrown together by three orphans. This one was one of my favorites. Dietze is gifted at crafting an endearing story with equally endearing characters.

The Gentleman Smuggler’s Lady by Michelle Griep: Helen and Isaac harbor his unlikely secret.
Griep brings a dose of excitement with her novella!! There’s certainly a message here on judging one another and on having a benevolent heart.

When I Saw His Face by Nancy Moser: Esther is empowered to choose between two men.
I enjoyed reading about an older heroine. I struggled a bit more with this particular story but I felt at home with Moser’s writing and look forward to giving her other works a try! Moser focuses the reader on themes of understanding and following God’s specific plan for your life.

The Highwayman’s Bargain by MaryLu Tyndall: Sophia is determined not to choose a man like Nash. Tyndall treats the reader to another sweet romance. There was a great message here about trusting Christ with your needs and not running ahead.
*I will note for like-minded readers, that the heroine’s salvation experience included feeling a hand on her shoulder while she was alone in the room and a gust of wind where there were no open windows. Otherwise, it was a very safe and clean story.

Jamie Ever After by Erica Vetsch: Jamie and William face a daunting London season together.
Vetsch wraps up the collection rather nicely. Jamie Ever After was another one of my favorites. Very nicely done!

~ I received a copy from Net Galley. All thoughts are my own. I was not compensated for my review.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander

183

A Christmas story to launch a brand new three-book series . . . The Carnton Novels
Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas – and of sacrificial love.

Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year old son.With the bank threatening to evict, she discovers an advertisement for the Women’s Relief Society auction and applies for a position – only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity – and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?
Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women’s Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects.Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies – one, in particular – is far more than he bargained for. 

Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.

What I Loved: THIS is a prequel novella done right!! Prequel Novellas have grown out of favor with me because many are beginning to feel like an unnecessary prologue. But with Christmas at Carnton, Alexander has renewed my faith in the trend.
From the very beginning, Christmas at Carnton felt like its own story. We are introduced to some characters that we’ll see again in the series but what won me over was that Alexander kept the focus right where it belonged: with Jake and Aletta.
But it wasn’t just her focus that deserves the praise, Alexander brings to life the hardships of war in the midst of the Christmas season. And it’s a great start to her new series. I’m looking forward to visiting Carnton again.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending to those who enjoy Historical Christmas, Christian Christmas novellas, or Civil War fiction.

~ I received a copy from Book Look Bloggers. I was not compensated for my review. All thoughts are my own.