Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck

59From New York Times bestselling author comes The Wedding Dress.
Four brides. One Dress.
A tale of faith, redemption, and timeless love.

Charlotte owns a chic Birmingham bridal boutique. Dressing brides for their big day is her gift . . . and her passion. But with her own wedding day approaching, why can’t she find the perfect dress…or feel certain she should marry Tim?

Then Charlotte discovers a vintage dress in a battered trunk at an estate sale. It looks brand-new—shimmering with pearls and satin, hand-stitched and  timeless in its design. But where did it come from? Who wore it? Who welded the lock shut and tucked the dog tags in that little sachet? Who left it in the basement for a ten-year-old girl? And what about the mysterious man in the purple vest who insists the dress had been “redeemed.”

Charlotte’s search for the gown’s history—and its new bride—begins as a distraction from her sputtering love life. But it takes on a life of its own as she comes to know the women who have worn the dress. Emily from 1912. Mary Grace from 1939. Hillary from 1968. Each with her own story of promise, pain, and destiny. And each with something unique to share. For woven within the threads of the beautiful hundred-year-old gown is the truth about Charlotte’s heritage, the power of courage and faith, and the timeless beauty of finding true love.

 

I’m going to state up front that this will not be a book for everyone. I want to lay out what I found and let you decide for yourself whether to add it to your list or not. 

My Thoughts: First of all, the book starts off so strongly. I thoroughly enjoyed the characters and the overall plot. I liked how Hauck bounced between two eras to tell this story and I was invested in both of these ladies and their struggling relationships with the men in their lives.
For me, the story took a wrong turn when Hauck introduced a mystical thread. It almost reads as a fantasy, except it isn’t. I don’t want to ruin the story, but I do want to point out some of what was found here. There is a dress with magical properties and the ability to fit “any woman who accepts it and believes in it” (quote from the novel), a mysterious man who appears to be a heavenly visitor, scenes where the characters mention smelling something spicy (think anointing oil here), among other things. This no longer lined up with my theology and I grew uncomfortable at times while reading it.
Without this mystical thread, The Wedding Dress would have been a hit for me. I found no fault with Hauck’s writing style or overall plot and even cared a great deal about the characters. But I can’t get passed what I can’t agree with.
There’s my honest opinion. Now, dear reader, decide for yourself what you want to do with it.

~I received a copy from The Fiction Guild. I was not required to review this book. All thoughts are my own. 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Baby, It’s Cold Outside by Susan May Warren

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Dottie Morgan has no desire to share her home or her heart over the Christmas holidays. After all, her Christmas spirit froze over when Dottie lost her son in World War II. But when a blizzard of the decade traps Dottie in her home with four near strangers, she just might discover that opening her door might also open her heart to a Christmas miracle and a new reason to celebrate Christmas.

My Thoughts: Baby, It’s Cold Outside was full of heart. The kind of story that is perfect for being snowed in with.
Warren is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. I just love this author’s heart and the message she’s able to weave into her stories. There’s more than just entertainment going on, yet it never feels heavy. Just a perfect blend of entertaining with a spiritual message.
There were descriptions that were a bit repetitive, in the beginning mostly. But this was easily forgivable. I loved the way she weaved the lives of 5 people together and also the history she brought to focus with her use of Storm Houses, early asthma treatments, and other cultural tidbits of the late 1940s.

Rating and Recommendation: I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys a good Christmas Christian novel or Historical Christian Fiction. I’m giving it 5 stars.

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: Return to Sender by Janice Thompson

21Holly O’Brien’s plans are flipped upside-down when she receives what she believes to be a Christmas letter in the mail. Turns out, the letter is from a complete stranger, and is intended for someone else. The passionate note—written with shaky handwriting—clues Holly in to the fact that the writer wants to reconcile with her estranged family. Holly flies into action to find the sender of the letter. Getting it into the right hands is critical. Her journey leads her to the Shady Acres nursing home, where she meets Gertie, the writer of the cryptic letter. Only one problem: Gertie, who has Alzheimer’s, has no memory of writing it. Enter Liam, Gertie’s handsome grandson. Does he have to key to unraveling this mystery? When Liam and Holly come together, sparks fly, but not all of them in the right direction. Can they work together to solve the mystery behind the letter? And will Holly witness a Christmas miracle as she gets to know this wonderful family? Inspirational author Janice Thompson is thrilled to share this heartfelt holiday story with her readers and wishes them all a very Merry Christmas.

 Return to Sender was everything you’d expect in a Hallmark Movie. It was cute, funny, warm, and sweet all at once. Thompson put together a cast of memorable secondary characters. It was a fun Christmas read that I’d recommend to anyone looking for a novella to enjoy in December. I’m giving it 4 stars.

 

Posted in Book Reviews

Book Review: One Enchanted Eve by Melissa Tagg

40.jpgA delightful Christmas romance about finding the perfect recipe for love.

After years of mistakes and regret, Colin Renwycke finally has a plan: Hone his baking talent at the Denver Culinary Institute and embark on a new career as a pastry chef. If he’s lucky, he might even manage to earn back his family’s respect. But despite his skills in the kitchen, Colin’s a mess in the classroom and his ongoing disasters are proving too much for his prickly instructor. If he loses his spot at the school, he’s out of backup plans.

Culinary school instructor Rylan Jefferson has the chance to reclaim her dream of running her own bakery. But she only has until Christmas Eve to come up with the perfect recipe to impress an eccentric investor. She has no time for holiday parties or family plans . . . and especially not for the unruly student baker who couldn’t follow a recipe if his life depended on it.

But Colin has the one ingredient Rylan needs most—talent. Lots of it. And when he makes a proposal that just might solve both their problems, Rylan can’t say no—even if it does mean traveling all the way to Iowa. It just might be that the snow-covered plains and a charming small town full of postcard Christmas cheer are exactly what her hungry heart needs . . . along with a man who is much more than he seems.

What I Loved: First of all, I loved the fact that I could count on Tagg to deliver a novella that I would enjoy. Novellas for me are so hit or miss, but I knew I was in safe hands here. And she didn’t disappoint.
One Enchanted Eve is the redemption story of bad boy Colin from last year’s release, One Enchanted Christmas. It was delightful from beginning to end. With a little humor, friction, romance, and classic small town charm, Tagg crafted a new Christmas favorite. I’m looking forward to the third story in the series already.

Rating and Recommendation: I’m giving it 5 stars and recommending it to anyone who enjoys a Christmas novella.