Tag Archives: Christmas fiction

December 2020 New Releases in Christian Fiction

December 2020 New Releases in Christian Fiction

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

A Prayer Quilt Christmas by Nancy J. Farrier — Meg’s ex-husband took her boys away for the holidays, and she’s lost her heart to celebrate, but Wade is determined to make this Christmas special for her. (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

His Holiday Prayer by Tina Radcliffe — After receiving an unexpected job offer in Texas, widower Tucker Rainbolt decides he and his twins need a fresh start. But moving on means leaving his best friend, Jena Harper, and their vet clinic behind. For the first time, Tucker sees Jena as more than a buddy. What if leaving isn’t the answer? Maybe what he’s been missing has been right beside him the whole time… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Christmas on Ocracoke by Christina Sinisi — Reeling from the upheaval of a failed marriage, Annie Hanahan is desperate for a new start—and when she inherits a cottage on Ocracoke Island, she may finally get it. Without a second thought, she packs up and leaves everything behind: her first name, her job, and her ex-husband. But when she arrives in the Outer Banks, she finds the island—and her promised refuge—ravaged by Hurricane Dorian. As a contractor who has given so much of his time to helping Ocracoke recover, it surprises no one when Trey Kingsley offers to help the beautiful newcomer, but something is holding her back. Life keeps throwing them together, though, or perhaps God’s hand is giving them a nudge. Will a little bit of divine intervention be enough for a Merry Christmas on Ocracoke? (Contemporary Romance, Anaiah Press)

A Holiday Heart by Denise Weimer — Atlanta film makeup artist Ashlyn Jennings is willed a mysterious box containing a key from her grandmother’s estate. Mamie Lou, the former Hollywood B-lister who inspired Ashlyn’s path in life, always demonstrated a flair for the dramatic. But did Mamie Lou really expect her to put everything on hold to clean out a mountain cabin no one even knew about? And right at Christmas? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Contemporary:

Season of Hope by Brenda S. Anderson — Life is good for Ronnie Coborn. She’s newly married to a man who loves her and dotes on her daughter. A man handpicked by Ronnie’s father, a popular pastor at a megachurch who’s been married to her mother for forty years. Yes, life is good. Until a shocking revelation exposes the fact that everything in her idyllic life—her marriage, family, and faith—is based on a lie. (Contemporary, Independently Published)

Historical:

Hope’s Reward by Carol Ashby — When a gladiator slave becomes a Christian and runs away from his life of killing to join other believers, his rescue of a Roman woman makes him her escort on a dangerous journey that opens unexpected futures for both of them. (Historical from Cerrillo Press)

The Mulberry Leaf Whispers by Linda Thompson — A WWII Japanese naval officer. The teenage daughter of a legendary Christian samurai. Three centuries separate them, but a crucial question binds their destinies together. Which lives have value? (Historical from Mountain Brook Ink)

Historical Romance:

For the Love of Emma by Starr Ayers — A rose-covered grave, seventy-nine letters, and a scribbled note unearth buried emotions and the timeless beauty of first love. Inspired by actual letters found in her mother’s trunk, Starr pens a poignant love story set in the throes of the Great Depression and portrays a young couple’s quest to keep their love alive, regardless of events that threaten to tear them apart. (Historical Romance from Mountain Brook Ink)

Depending on You by Melissa Jagears — Can the joy and hope of Christmas restore their love before it’s too late? Leah Whitsett’s life was ideal until the disastrous day she nearly died because of her husband’s deceit. When he returns home weeks before Christmas, she knows the best gift she can give him is forgiveness, but how can she relinquish her hard-won independence knowing he plans to turn their family’s life upside down again? Bryant has always known his wife was a gift he’d never deserved, but how can he provide for her in a town that no longer wants anything to do with him? He longs to atone for the misery he’s put his loved ones through, but when he brings a family member home for the holidays, he and Leah may end up even further apart. With emotions high and their marriage at stake, will the season bring the hope they need…or are their rifts too large to mend? (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Legacy of Love by Linda Shenton Matchett — Escaping Boston to avoid a marriage of convenience aimed at garnering society’s respect for her family name in the shadow of her father’s war profiteering, Meg Underwood settles in Spruce Hill, Oregon. Despite leaving behind the comforts of wealth, she’s happy. Then the handsome Pinkerton agent, Reuben Jessop, arrives with news that she’s inherited her aunt’s significant estate, and she must return home to claim the bequest. Meg refuses to make the trip. Unwilling to fail at his mission, Reuben gives her until Christmas to prove why she should remain in Spruce Hill and give up the opportunity to become a woman of means. When he seems to want more than friendship, she wonders if her new-found wealth is the basis of his attraction. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)
Romantic Suspense:

Deadly Amish Reunion by Dana R. Lynn — Jennie Beiler’s husband was supposed to be dead, so she’s shocked when he rescues her from an attacker. Although Luke has no memories of his Englisch wife, it’s up to him to protect her from someone who won’t stop until she’s dead. Can the peaceful Amish community he returned to after losing his memory shelter them and their son this Christmas when danger strikes again? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Christmas Protection Detail by Terri Reed — When a call from a friend in trouble leads Nick Delaney and Deputy Kaitlyn Lanz to a car crash that killed a single mother, they become the baby’s protectors. Now figuring out why someone is after the child is the only way to save her. But they must find answers soon…or this baby’s first Christmas might just be Nick’s and Kaitlyn’s last. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Speculative:

Dawn of Vengeance by Ronie Kendig — Haunted by a prophecy that promises pain and war, bounty hunter Marco Dusan forges alliances to protect the primitive world against Symmachia’s devastating influence. But one truth becomes painfully clear: the biggest threat to their world may be much, much closer to home. (Speculative Fiction from Kregel Publications)

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

A Question of Survival by Alice K. Arenz – A victim of domestic violence searches for hope after her recent miscarriage. (Women’s Fiction)

Ask Lolita by Roger E. Bruner – Not only does the Town Curmudgeon’s pet hen Lolita learn to use the computer and get her own newspaper column, she helps the lifelong bachelor survive the challenges of old age and find true love in the process. (Contemporary Fantasy)

The Mistletoe Contract by Jennifer Chastain – He needs a wife to inherit the family business, she needs money for her mother’s medical treatment, but is their convenient marriage a blessing or a disaster waiting to happen? (Contemporary Romance)

Dreaming of Tomorrow by Michelle De Bruin – Love leads them to a lifetime of commitment where the dreams they have held onto for so long start to come true. (Historical Romance)

Grumpy the Gator by Melissa Henderson – In Grumpy the Gator, we are reminded to be careful around alligators. Always tell an adult when we see a gator. (Children’s)

Lessons Learned in Love by Milla Holt – The boss’s daughter is off-limits. Especially when she steals the job that should have been his. (Contemporary Romance)

Fractures by Jason C. Joyner – A group of teens with superpowers must navigate high school, parents, and the enemies that want to destroy them. (Young Adult)

His to Keep by Sherrinda Ketchersid – He’s fighting for his inheritance – she’s marrying her sworn enemy. (Historical Romance)

Making Memories by Ruth Kyser – When her life is changed by a car accident, Kelly finds hope again through faith and an old friend from high school, Michael. (Contemporary Romance)

Reagan’s Reward by Susan G. Mathis – When her life is changed by a car accident, Kelly finds hope again through faith and an old friend from high school, Michael. (Contemporary Romance)

Georgia Ann, English Rose by Elva Cobb Martin – The lure of the legendary Spice Trail beckons, but he may never find a spice more precious than the treasure he left in Charles Town. (Historical Romance)

Giving Grace by Jennifer Pierce – Nothing is more embarrassing than Grace Dixon’s dog peeing on the new mailman. Except maybe when she thinks she’s hit the handsome man with her SUV. When he’s assigned to cover an injured co-worker’s route, Evan McDonald assumes it will be like any other mail route he’s done. But then he meets Grace Dixon, and he’s thrust into total Christmas chaos. (Contemporary Romance)

The Snowbound Bride by Davalynn Spencer – On the run from a heartless uncle, Arabella Taube hides in Nate Horne’s farm wagon just as a harsh winter storm sweeps into Colorado. Despite Ara’s mysterious background, Nate’s mother thinks she is the answer to a prayer and the hope for his future. (Historical Romance)

Gifts of Good Words: Christmas Devotions

Visit the Facebook event page by clicking the image above, or click here.

Follow the Gifts of Good Words Blog Hop taking place from November 4-18, 2020, and find quality Canadian Christian books for those on your Christmas list! Then on November 18th, join the Good Words Virtual Book Fair on Facebook (click here).

Who doesn’t need a little extra encouragement this December, after the year we’ve had? Yes, there’s been good as well as the bad, but many of us are a little weary.

Give yourself an early Christmas present! Or give one to a friend.

Tenacity at Christmas is a collection of short, conversational daily devotions for the month of December (hence the “early gift”).

Funny enough, I’ve been working on this little book since releasing the 365-day devotional book A Year of Tenacity back in 2017. Originally this was going to be a free ebook with 7 entries. Then it grew to 12. Now it’s 31.

And did you ever have a project come together so easily it stunned you? That’s this book for me, this year. Even the formatting, which I do myself and which usually leaves me pulling my hair. It took more than one try but far less than the 17-plus my other books need.

I feel like God gave me a bit of extra grace in the writing, finishing, and releasing this one. Not that I’m claiming it has any “special anointing” content-wise! But this is a year when we need extra sources of encouragement. From that perspective, here’s one more resource.

Tenacity at Christmas: 31 Daily Devotions for December
Click the image for more details or click here.

The ebook simply contains the daily devotions. The print version also includes daily guided prayer journal pages. For more about Tenacity at Christmas, click here.

Looking for other books? I’d be remiss if I didn’t let you know about my mystery-suspense fiction and my reader’s journals. Here’s a picture, but you can also find them through the tabs at the top of this page: Green Dory Inn Mysteries, Redemption’s Edge series, and Non-fiction.

Please check out books by my fellow Canadian Christian authors!

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New Releases in Christian Fiction (November 2020)

November 2020 New Releases from Members of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW)

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:

 

Snowbound in Winterberry Falls by Ann Brodeur — Owning her own PR firm is all reporter Stephanie Clark wants for Christmas, but the idea of running a prestigious election campaign in the country’s capital throws her stomach into knots. A last minute vacation road trip to focus and to seek God’s direction for her life ends up in disaster when she gets caught in the worst snowstorm to hit Vermont in over a decade, crashing her into a small town and the one person she’d rather forget. Former photojournalist Jason Miller hadn’t planned on being solely responsible for saving his family business from financial ruin. He’s barely keeping the newspaper in print, his News Editor has gone AWOL during the town’s most celebrated holiday festival, and reports of missing Christmas decorations have everyone on edge. When a desperate knock at the newsroom door brings a ghost from Christmas past back into his life, can Jason make up for his prior behavior without breaking his promise to Stephanie’s father? Will Stephanie’s quest to solve the town’s Christmas caper, and uncover the truth about Jason’s disappearance, cost her everything she’s ever wanted? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)

The Cul-de-Sac War by Melissa Ferguson — All’s fair in love and prank wars. As a live theater actress, Bree Leake doesn’t want to be tied down. But just when it’s time to move on again, Bree’s parents make her an offer: hold steady for a full year, and they will give her the one thing she’s always wanted—her grandmother’s house. And then there’s Chip McBride—her handsome and infuriating next-door neighbor. Chip just might be the only person whose stubborn streak can match Bree’s. She would move heaven and earth to have him off her cul-de-sac and out of her life, but according to the bargain she’s struck, she can’t move out of her house and away from the man who’s making her life miserable. So begins Bree’s obsessive new mission: to drive Chip out of the neighborhood—and fast. But as their pranks escalate, the line between love and hate starts to blur—and their heated rivalry threatens to take a hilarious, heartwarming, and romantic new turn. (Contemporary Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

The Calm I Seek by Christina Lourens — After the violent death of her husband, Rebecca Holmes is content leading a quiet life spending time with her sisters and niece. When her younger sister Hannah asks her to plan her wedding, Rebecca discovers her friends and family all think her life is empty. Determined to prove them wrong, Rebecca takes up salsa lessons where she meets the charismatic salsa teacher, Gabriel Rodriguez. Falling in love is the last thing Rebecca wanted to do, but she is inexplicably drawn to Gabriel. Just when she’s decided to give her heart to Gabriel, disaster strikes her family, and she is forced to confront her past actions. Can there be redemption for her and can she forgive those who betrayed her? (Contemporary Romance from Pheasant Hill Press)

His Christmas Wish by Allie Pleiter — All he wants for Christmas is a family… To make his little nephew happy, this bachelor will need help… After his nephew, Cole, is orphaned, Jake Sanders vows to give the little boy the best Christmas possible…except Jake doesn’t know the first thing about kids! So when Cole’s preschool teacher, Emma Mullins, offers to pitch in, Jake’s grateful for her guidance. But while Jake and Emma share an immediate connection, their blossoming love must first survive the secret she’s hiding… (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Together for Good by Penelope Powell — Having lost her mother in a tragic accident, Laney Spence is no stranger to grief and loss. Despite this tragedy touching her life at such a young age, Laney has maintained her belief that God brings good out of even the most difficult circumstances. For her, that good came in the form of her older brother’s best friend, Matthew Jordan. Kind and compassionate, Matthew helped her grieve—and she’s been harboring a crush on him ever since. Years later, when tragedy shatters Matthew’s life, Laney is there for him the same way he’d been there for her all those years ago. But they’re not kids anymore. She’s a teacher with little life experience, and he’s a jaded divorce lawyer with a past he’d rather keep secret. Neither of them can ignore the attraction that blooms, though, leaving them both wondering—is attraction, history, and a shared faith in God enough to keep them together for good, or will circumstances beyond their control drive them apart? (Contemporary Romance from Anaiah Press)

 


Historical Romance:

 

Rocky Mountain Revelation by Lisa J. Flickinger — Widowed at nineteen, Madeline Lamb seeks to find a new husband amongst the crew of the Rocky Mountain log drive. With a baby growing inside her, she has no choice. She signs on as cook’s helper, and it soon becomes apparent her options for a mate are limited. Madeline’s grieving heart wavers between the security an older man offers and the tender feelings a new crew member stirs. Will Matheson earned the chance to work the high-paying spring log drive. The boon ensures he can recoup the logging wages stolen by a pretty face with some fast fingers. Frustration builds when the boss pulls him from the river and assigns him the job of camp chore boy. If it wasn’t for the pretty cook’s helper, he’d take the first train home. When the dangers of the river journey prove more treacherous than anyone expects, the budding attraction between Will and Madeline is put to the test. If they survive the adventure, life as they know it will never be the same. (Historical Romance from Wild Heart Books)

 

A Bride for Seamus by Linda Shenton Matchett — When her father dies after a lengthy illness, Madeline Winthrop is horrified to discover his will bequeaths their home to his business partner, a cruel and dishonest man, leaving her destitute. With no job or marriage prospects, she seeks help from her pastor who suggests she considers becoming a mail order bride. There’s just one catch. She’s to marry the man by proxy before ever meeting him. After three mail order brides refuse to stay and marry Seamus Fitzpatrick because of his brother’s mental issues and two rambunctious children, Seamus decides a proxy marriage is the only way he’s going to secure a wife. When the Boston-bred socialite arrives with few practical skills, he wonders if he made the biggest mistake of his life. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

 

Romantic Suspense:

 

Dangerous Deceptions by Evelyn M. Hill — Rachel Garrett has the ideal life in a small town, surrounded by people she trusts—until a stranger arrives and tells her that she is living a lie. Michael Sullivan’s claim that she’s been brainwashed can’t be right. Her life is perfect. But ever since he’s shown up, she’s had to deal with people attempting to manipulate, drug, or even kidnap her. Now Rachel must decide if she believes her closest friends…or the one man who makes her feel truly safe. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Forgiven Again by Gina Holder — Annie Staten, now known as Kathleen Phillips, has dreamed of pursuing a political career and following in her father’s footsteps. But Richard was a hated man during his tenure as governor and now his enemies will stop at nothing to prevent his daughter from winning the election. Ryan Whitestone has loved Annie since high school, but his heart is broken by the woman she has become. When the daughter she gave up for adoption comes back into her life, can he help Kathleen heal from her pain and remind her of who she used to be? Will Kathleen be able to forgive herself, put the past behind her, and find love again? The continuing story of No Greater Love. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Grave Christmas Secrets by Sharee Stover — Discovering buried evidence makes her a target. At a prehistoric site, forensic anthropologist Taya McGill uncovers a recently buried body days before Christmas and finds herself in a killer’s sights. Now on the run with undercover ATF agent Keegan Stryker, she must rely on him to guard her as they figure out why someone would kill to keep this murder unsolved. But can they unearth the truth before someone silences them both for good? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

 

Speculative:

 

Uncharted Freedom by Keely Brooke Keith — Naomi McIntosh is running from her family’s oppressive expectations and the loathsome man her father has demanded she marry. Renaming herself to live incognito, she takes a housekeeping job at the Inn at Falls Creek and promises God this false identity will be her last. When shepherd James Roberts goes home to the Inn at Falls Creek for his sister’s wedding, he doesn’t expect the woman who once broke his heart to be working there. No matter how much he wants to be with Naomi again, he can’t go along with her charade, especially since he is trying to persuade his father to make him the inn’s heir. Though Naomi yearns for a future with James, if she confesses her deception to everyone, her estranged fiancé will find her. And the longer James goes without telling his family the truth about Naomi—and their growing relationship—the further he jeopardizes the inheritance. But just when their relationship looks promising, the inn proves to be a poor hiding place from Naomi’s past. (Speculative Romance, Independently Published)

 

Thriller:

 

Termination Zone by Adam Blumer –In the Justice Club, you’re either all in, or you’re dead. Pianist Landon Jeffers has been hiding in Georgia’s woods to keep his loved ones safe from the Justice Club, the cybercrime network seeking to control him through his brain implant. But when his means of blocking their controlling signals is compromised and he receives word that a family member may be in danger, he is forced out of hiding. Now Landon covertly works with unexpected allies including the FBI to help shut the Justice Club down from the inside. But when he is prepped during his concert tour for a high-profile hit targeting the highest levels of the US government, the stakes have never been higher. Can he and his allies thwart the Justice Club’s mission of violence in time? Even if that means placing the woman he loves in danger? The deadline is coming. And death is certain if he fails. (Techno-Thriller Suspense, Independently Published)

Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig — Leif Metcalfe is done waiting for answers and seizes control, a move that comes with a high price and a deadly risk: teaming up with the enemy. He can only hope that what he uncovers will heal the wounds he’s inflicted on those he loves. Iskra Todorova believes Leif is on a collision course with death and knows firsthand the irrevocable cost of that path to the soul. While trying to protect her daughter and intervene with Leif, Iskra is forced to set her sights on the man behind the evil organization ArC–Ciro Veratti. Torn apart by injuries and opposing views on how to handle Leif’s act of treachery, team Reaper hunts one of their own. The only thing they agree on is not stopping but starting the final battle prophesied in the Book of the Wars. (Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

 

Young Adult:

 

Fortune’s Fall by Katherine Barger — While her classmates prepare for elite careers across America, Nyssa Ardelone trains for her secret job as the president’s dream interpreter. But when her mentor lies to the president about the prophecy in his latest dream, Nyssa must figure out why before the lie unravels. What she learns could destroy her own future. Fearful of a rumored rebellion, the president has launched a gas attack on Nyssa’s hometown, and her mentor lied about the dream to protect the survivors from more harm. When Nyssa learns her parents were injured in the attack, she flees with a stranger sent to steal the antidote—a stranger who claims to know her. Together, they race to deliver the cure as well as an interpretation of another prophetic dream only Nyssa can provide. But a devastating loss dulls her caution, and she learns too late that not everyone is trustworthy. To survive the president’s deadly pursuit, Nyssa must break every rule she’s ever followed, learning along the way that faith is the only thing that can save her. (Young Adult from Anaiah Press)

 

Plus check out these recent additions to Fiction Finder published within the past month:

 

Methuselah Project S.O.S. by Rick Barry – In order to rescue a friend, Air Force Captain Roger Greene accepts temporary duty with the CIA–and lands in more danger than he ever imagined. (Romantic Suspense)

 

Mercy Will Follow by Sarah Hanks – Natassa is a devoted, and slightly devious, wife and mother. But when the unthinkable happens, she is forced to reexamine what she believes about life, truth, race, and the God she always thought she believed in. (Contemporary)

 

Hearts Aglow by Chautona Havig, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, and Jaycee Weaver – Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse, and a hidden family heirloom. What more could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance? (Romance)

 

Lighter Than Air by Linda Hoover – Elena Bishop’s father has gambled away their home, but she feels God has shown her what to do to save it in spite of interference from Justin Ramsay, her neighbor, who has an agenda of his own that doesn’t allow both of them to succeed. (Historical Romance)

 

Bag of Bones by Jackie Layton – Andi Grace Scott puts her sleuthing skills to the test when the island’s Cat Lady is found dead. (Cozy Mystery)

 

Seasoned ~ A Love Story by Jayme H. Mansfield – If you had one last chance to love, would you take it? (Contemporary Romance)

 

Verdict at the River’s Edge by Colleen K. Snyder – In a test of faith, God challenges Collin Walker to face her deepest fears for no other reason than, “Because I love you.” (Mystery/Suspense/Thriller)

 

Always and Forever by Cathe Swanson – Scrap quilts, bridal gowns, an old Swedish farmhouse, and a hidden family heirloom. What more could you want in a Minnesota Christmas romance? (Romance)

 

Ghost by Michael Jack Webb – The FBI’s youngest, most brilliant Profiler is tracking a serial killer with supernatural abilities, and the life-threatening case will challenge her beliefs about the world around her and her understanding of what is real, what is myth, and what is something in between. (Supernatural Suspense)

 

Resisting by H. L. Wegley – Civil war has begun and a band of patriots takes on the president in a battle for the soul of America. (Romantic Suspense)

 

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Two Short (Free!) Christmas Reads

Here are two short, feel-good Christmas reads that are free ebooks on a variety of platforms:



Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, by Amanda Dykes

Bespoke: A Tiny Christmas Tale, by Amanda Dykes

90 minutes to read: Arial has a radical plan to fix an old tragedy and surprise her dying father–but it’ll take the help of the village blacksmith. Set on an island between England and France, Bespoke has a gentle, historical feel. (Interesting background note: this tale was first written to raise funds to buy bicycles for missionaries.)





Tin Can Serenade, by Amanda Dykes

30 minutes to read: Isolated by a mountain winter, a young boy and girl living on opposite sides of a river exchange messages via a tin can on a rope. This short story opens and closes with poetry and tells its tale through the exchange of brief notes.



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Review: The End of the Magi, by Patrick W. Carr

The End of the Magi: a novel, by Patrick W. Carr

The End of the Magi, by Patrick W. Carr (Bethany House, 2019)

Whether he’s writing historical fiction or epic fantasy, Patrick W. Carr brings exotic settings to life and creates unlikely heroes who inspire strong reader loyalty.

The End of the Magi is an intense, danger-fraught novel of biblical fiction where the magi in question are those who come bearing gifts for the Christ child. But the story—and their role in it—doesn’t end there.

The culture and the prophecies fascinate, and the snippets of wry humour make me smile. And I love how the story shows God choosing to use someone from outside the Hebrew lineage, someone with questionable heritage and a physical deformity, as part of His purposes. How like God to use the unlikely and to include the excluded.

Favourite lines:

“The only thing worse than disagreeing with the king is being right when you do it.” [Kindle location 3182]

“You see yourself as a man cursed with a clubfoot and beset by trials at every turn… But I see a man who has triumphed over every obstacle placed before him.” [Kindle locations 3373 and 3376]

“It’s almost as if God takes delight in accomplishing His ends in the most unlikely way possible.” [Kindle location 3943]

This is a novel for Christmas or for any time of year, for savouring and for discussing. It reminds us that God works in His own methods and according to His own timetable, often in ways that surprise, and that He has a place for the willing heart in His service.

Well done, Patrick W. Carr! As a long-time fan of his fantasy fiction, I give my hearty approval to his first historical fiction.

For more about the author and to read samples of his work, visit patrickwcarr.com.

[Review copy provided by the publisher through #NetGalley. My opinions are my own.]

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Review: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, by Michelle Griep

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, by Michelle Griep | Christmas fiction, Christian fiction, novellas, historical fiction

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas, by Michelle Griep (Shiloh Run Press, 2019)

Three Christmas novellas set in 1850’s England, each with a cameo appearance from Charles Dickens, and each featuring a “second chance” coin—and a second chance at love.

The titles are nods to Mr. Dickens as well: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, A Tale of Two Hearts, and The Old Lace Shop.

Once Upon a Dickens Christmas will charm readers who enjoy period historicals with quiet faith and feel-good endings. Each novella has a degree of suspense, but these aren’t stories that will keep readers up worrying what will happen next. They’re gentle, relaxing reads with winsome characters and some delightful turns of phrase.

Some of my favourites:

It was the kind of late January day that crawled under the best of woollen capes and took up residence in the bones. [Kindle location 1797]

He wore his wrinkles like a garment, the deep creases on his face in sore need of a good ironing. [Kindle location 2338]

Either your faith will move mountains, or your doubt will create them. [Kindle location 4901]

The three novellas are available individually as well as in this collection. For more about Christy award-winning author Michelle Griep and her other books, visit michellegriep.com.

[Review copy provided by the publisher through #NetGalley.]

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Review: Deadly Noel, by Margaret Daley

Deadly Noel, by Margaret Daley | Christmas fiction, romantic suspenseDeadly Noel, by Margaret Daley (2015)

Assistant D.A. Kira Davis blames herself for the wrongful conviction of Gabriel Michaels in his wife’s murder. She was sure he was guilty, as were most members of the local law enforcement, but hindsight says she was wrong. Not that the police chief is willing to admit Gabriel is innocent.

Gabriel’s been released because the killing didn’t stop when he went to prison. Now he’s trying to rebuild life with his daughter and keep her out of his controlling mother-in-law’s clutches. He wants nothing to do with Kira, but when someone shoots at her on his property, his protective nature kicks in.

Kira and Gabriel team up to catch the killer before anyone else dies.

Deadly Noel is part of Margaret Daley’s Strong Women, Extraordinary Situations series, and it’s a tightly-woven romantic suspense set in the weeks leading up to the Christmas holidays.

Margaret Daley is a multi-published romantic suspense author. For more about her and her books, visit margaretdaley.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: The Incense Road, by Tracy Higley

The Incense Road by Tracy Higley | Christmas fiction, historical fiction, Christian fictionThe Incense Road, by Tracy Higley (StoneWater Press, 2015)

This ebook bundles Star of Wonder, Star of Night, and Royal Beauty into one, and it’s the best way to read the three novellas because they don’t stand alone well. Together, they form a sweeping and engaging historical tale of intrigue, romance, and spiritual warfare as a caravan of mages set out on a quest for a rumoured object of power, their way lit by a mysterious star.

The three central characters are Misha (a mage who rejects his Jewish heritage), Reza (a general who’d rather be a scholar), and Kamillah (an Egyptian princess sent to learn from the mages).

Their adventures drive them to trust one another and to discover truths about themselves – and about the true source of power.

I enjoyed the voice, the characters, and the pacing of the story, as well as the exotic setting.

The Incense Road collection takes place after the novel The Queen’s Handmaid, and some characters reappear. I hadn’t read the first novel and had no trouble following the plot.

Tracy Higley writes fiction set in the ancient past and has travelled extensively in her research. For more about the author and her books, or to check out her travel blog, visit tracyhigley.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: A Halifax Christmas Carol, by Steven Laffoley

A Halifax Christmas Carol, by Steven LaffoleyA Halifax Christmas Carol, by Steven Laffoley (Pottersfield Press, 2017)

December, 1918. Halifax, Nova Scotia, is a grim place, still shattered by the massive explosion that caused so much death and destruction one year previously.

The Great War is over, and the surviving troops are coming home, those not wounded in body, wounded in mind. News headlines cry worldwide unrest, and fear of the so-called “Spanish Flu” is so high that citizens avoid public trams and walk to their destinations.

To newspaper reporter Michael Bell, hope is dead. He survived a gas attack in the war and came home to lose his family in the explosion. Bitter pursuit of the facts of the world’s dark spiral has become his sole purpose in life.

When assigned a story of goodwill just before Christmas, about a mysterious lad with a missing leg and a generous heart, Michael insists he’ll only report the facts. And if the facts don’t produce the upbeat story his editor wants, so be it.

He’s paired with a female reporter who rejects his “wisdom of the head” for “wisdom of the heart.” As well as following their search, readers trace the days of a nameless beggar with the soul of a poet.

The narration itself has a poetic feel at times, with both poetry and prose philosophy quoted. Michael and the beggar are both well-read. Not surprisingly, given the title, Dickens is referenced, usually through Michael’s denial of his continuing influence in this darkened world.

This isn’t a retelling of A Christmas Carol, but those who know that story will find many nods to it. For example, Michael goes home to his dark, lonely, and cold lodgings where he broods by the fire, and he’s disturbed by significant dreams. And the ending, in A Christmas Carol fashion, gives a narrative summary of how certain things turn out happily ever after. While that’s ordinarily annoying, it works here as a final Dickensian touch.

For all the grim setting, and the stories of loss and trauma that Michael uncovers in his search for the boy, this isn’t a hard book to read. The omniscient narrative is well-handled to keep us at enough of a distance that we can observe and learn without being overwhelmed. The author reveals insights, details, and even smells that could only come from extensive research, yet it all flows as part of the story.

Because I usually review clean or Christian fiction, I’ll include a language warning with this one. There’s frequent minor profanity and one misuse of the name of Jesus.

Inspired by a true story, A Halifax Christmas Carol offers a look into a dark time in history, and yet may leave you with a warm hope reminiscent of Dickens’ tale.

For more about award-winning Canadian author Steven Laffoley and his books, visit stevenlaffoley.wordpress.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

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Review: Snowflake Tiara, by Angela Breidenbach and Valerie Comer

Snowflake Tiara, by Angela Breidenbach and Valerie ComerSnowflake Tiara, by Angela Breidenbach and Valerie Comer (Gems of Wisdom, 2014)

Two heart-warming novellas, linked through time: one historical, one contemporary. In 1889, Montana is granted statehood, and debutante Calista Blythe enters the inaugural Snowflake Pageant because the prize money ($100) would allow her to buy the freedom of a 6-year-old indentured servant she’s rescued from an abusive situation. But what if the handsome event organizer discovers Calista is illegally harbouring a runaway?

In 2014, Montana celebrates its 125th anniversary, and the Snowflake Pageant is revived. Calista Blythe’s descendant, Marisa Hiller, is a former model who works for a community-supported agriculture group. Winning the tiara would give her a platform to speak about the importance of healthy, natural foods—but the pageant throws her into company with the photographer who broke her heart.

I knew nothing about pageants except the stereotyped label of “beauty contest.” It was interesting to learn a bit about what these events really entail in terms of activities, motivation and purpose.  Author Angela Breidenbach is a former Mrs. Montana, so I trust the details to be accurate.

Naturally, contests of any sort are rife with competition, and in romantic novellas that includes vying for the heart of the handsome lead character. The historical novella is rich with gorgeous gowns and the burden of street children (Helena, Montana, is the final stop on the Orphan Train).

The present-day story has a more immediate feel and the world is much smaller. The plight of hungry children is still close to the 2014 pageant contestant’s heart. Now those children are both local and the ones she’s met through mission work in Kenya. Marisa is passionate about local, organic food—and about making it available to low-income families.

I enjoyed both stories. Favourite line:

Seeing him again created a pothole in her road, but she’d get back up to speed in a minute. (Marisa’s thoughts about Jase) [Page 184, Kindle version]

In each case, the Snowflake Pageant begins in December and winners are announced on Christmas Eve. Snowflake Tiara is a good read any time, but would make an ideal respite from the busyness leading up to Christmas. The reminder to care for others less fortunate than ourselves might prompt us to reach out in our own communities over the holiday season.

Angela Breidenbach and Valerie Comer make a good writing team. I’ll be interested to see if they follow this with other collaborative projects.

[Review copy from my personal library.]