An Amish Christmas Kitchen by Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler and Kate Lloyd

About the book: As the weather grows cold and the nights grow long, the cheer and warmth of the Christmas season is one thing all readers can find comfort in. This collection from bestselling Amish fiction novelists Leslie Gould, Jan Drexler, and Kate Lloyd finds the beating heart at the center of the holiday and offers three novellas that celebrate family, faith, and especially the sights and smells of a bustling holiday kitchen.

Leslie Gould tells the story of how, in the wake of a heartbreaking loss, a young Amish woman finds unexpected comfort and hope in a yearly baking tradition surrounding the local Lancaster Christmas market. Jan Drexler offers a sweet tale of a shy Amish woman who decides to use her gift for sweets to woo a local Amish boy with her beloved Christmas cookies. And Kate Lloyd offers a heartwarming tale of a woman’s unexpected discovery about the truth of her past, and the warm and welcoming Amish family table she finds herself invited to on Christmas.

Publication Date: September 3, 2019

Publisher: Bethany House Publishers

Genre: Amish fiction

My thoughts: I’m always saying I’m not a huge fan of novellas and that remains true today. However, I enjoyed reading these three stories by popular Amish fiction authors. These holiday-themed stories were well-written and complete stories. The stories never felt rushed or lacking in any way.

This would be a great collection to add to the shelves of Amish fiction readers. It would also be a great way to introduce someone to the genre.

I received a complimentary copy from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

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A Picture Perfect Christmas by Candee Fick

About the book:  

From disowned to daughter to “I do?”

Freelance photographers Liz Foster and Ryan Callahan are finally making plans for their future. And what better time to get married than during the festive holiday season that brought them together? If only Liz’s parents weren’t standing in the way of a picture-perfect wedding.

Spurred on by the ghosts of Christmases past, Dan Foster has already written Liz out of his will, so even attending the wedding—let alone walking his daughter down the aisle—is out of the question. However, this is the season for miracles and Ryan will do anything to make his bride smile.

What will it take to bring this family back together in time for the wedding?

If you like Christmas weddings, family reunions, and happily-ever-afters, then you’ll love this next chapter in The Wardrobe series by Candee Fick. Pick up Picture Perfect Christmas and start celebrating the season today.

(NOTE: This book is a follow-up to Focus On Love and is best understood if read in that order.)

Publication Date:  November 12, 2018

Genre:  Inspirational Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Series:  The Wardrobe Series, book 4

My thoughts

At the end of Focus on Love, where readers followed Liz and Ryan’s relationship, I was disappointed. The book ended suddenly and I didn’t get the ending I wanted with all the details. I felt like there were loose ends that needed tying up and I also just wasn’t ready to say goodbye to the characters. A Picture Perfect Christmas is like the author saying “I heard you Kristi, and here you go”. Finally, I (and other readers) get the answers to “what happens next?”.

Readers return to Liz and Ryan’s relationship with letters to her mom from different locations. Through this, we get to learn what’s been happening with this couple and also the status of Liz and her parents’ relationship. This was a wonderful way to start the story and catch up with (or be introduced to) these characters. Throughout the story, we also get to learn more about Liz’s parents and especially her dad’s past which reveals a lot about their relationship issues.

The story has a good pace to it and at just a bit over 100 pages, it is a quick read. It’s a great book for a lazy afternoon spent reading in a comfy chair. As with the other books in the series, this book as a young adult feel to it but not so much that older readers won’t enjoy it. Although this book can be read as a standalone I wouldn’t recommend it. The story will make much more sense if Focus on Love is read first. But, I would recommend reading the entire series in order. They are wonderfully written books that will appeal to readers of all ages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author but was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:  

Author of inspirational romance, non-fiction, and devotionals. Candee is married to a high school football coach and is the mother of three, including a child with special needs (thus providing inspiration for her first two non-fiction titles).

In addition to her non-fiction devotionals, she writes faith-based romance novels for the Bling! Romance imprint. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and a Double Finalist/Winner in the 2014 ACFW Genesis contest in the short novel category.

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Cowboy Christmas Guardian by Dana Mentink

About the book:  

UNDER THE RANCHER’S PROTECTION

Someone is dead set on stopping Shelby Arroyo from doing her job: assessing mineral rights in a mine in gold country. But after rancher Barrett Thorn rescues her from an attack, the handsome widowed cowboy seems to feel responsible for her. That is, until he discovers she’s from the family that he’ll never forgive for his wife’s death. As the threats against Shelby escalate, cowboy honor and an unexpected attraction keep Barrett by her side, even at his own risk. And since Shelby won’t back down, Barrett must protect the brave, loyal woman he has no business falling for…a woman someone wants to kill by Christmas.

Publication Date:  November 7, 2017

Publisher:  Love Inspired Suspense

Genre: Suspense, Christmas

Series: Gold Country Cowboys #1

My thoughts:  

The first book in Dana Mentink’s new series is a fast-paced, action-packed story full of edge-of-your-seat scenes that will have your heart racing. I have no doubt she’ll be able to top these scenes in the future books of the series. It will be so fun to see how.

This story captured my attention from the very beginning. The opening scene creates the tone for the rest of the story with a dark, stormy night full of danger for Shelby Arroyo, the leading lady of the story. This woman can manage to get herself into a lot of dangerous situations and it’s a good thing she has Barrett Thorn there to rescue her. Barrett may come across as a brooding cowboy but there is so much more to him. Oh, and I absolutely adored Evie Thorn, the matriarch of the Thorn family! Is it possible for her to adopt me?

Reading this story it’s hard to believe that it’s written by a third grade teacher who is mom to Junie the dog and posts funny videos on social media. This book is dark, mysterious, and so good. It really shows her ability as an author to write a wide range of stories. I enjoy the fact that she can make me laugh or, in this case, keep me on the edge of my seat and turning pages long into the afternoon or night.

This is a book you don’t want to miss out on reading. I’m already anxious to read the next book in the series and see what’s in store next for the Thorn family. This is one for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author:

 Dana Mentink enjoys writing in many different capacities. She currently writes for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Harvest House Publishers.

Dana is the recipient of a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award, two ACFW Carol Awards as well as a Holt Medallion.

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An Amish Family Christmas by Murray Pura

About the book:

After tragedy strikes the family of young Naomi Miller, her friend Rebecca Bachman does all she can to help. But things get complicated when Rebecca’s brother, Micah, returns from a combat tour in Afghanistan. For one thing, he chose to serve in the military even though he served as a medic and never picked up a gun. For another, he is under the Meidung—the shunning— because of that and none of the Amish are permitted to speak to him or eat with him. And finally, he is not only Rebecca’s brother, he is Naomi’s husband! But how can Naomi pick up where their marriage left off after he turned away from her and his people to enlist in the army? How can Naomi and Micah even begin the process of healing their relationship when he will not repent of what he has done and the Amish will not forgive him for what he has done? Naomi despairs of ever again having a happy married life with her husband.

But God has a way of working on the hearts of His people—especially at Christmas time. When an unexpected turn of events sets things right, miracles happen to the Amish community, to the Miller family, and to Naomi and Micah, miracles that transform everyone.

Here is warm and tender story of faithfulness, love, and reconciliation at the most wonderful time of the year.

Publication Date: October 1, 2013

Publisher: Harvest House Publishers

Genre: Amish fiction, Christmas

My thoughts:

This book was my introduction to Murry Pura. To be completely honest, I didn’t pay attention to the author’s name and had no idea that the book was written by a man until the end. Before reading this book, I had only read Amish fiction written by women. Murray won me over with this book. His writing style is wonderful and he gently pulls you into the story and keeps you there until the last word.

This book was wonderfully written and realistic. The characters are genuine and complex. They have problems and aren’t living the perfect stress-free life so many people think the Amish live.

The storyline of this book was different from any I had read in the Amish fiction genre. I found this unique and refreshing. It added to the authenticity of the characters are made for a wonderful read. In fact, there is a lot packed into this 146-page book but it is so well written that I finished the book quickly.

This book will leave you with a happy heart. I recommend it to anyone who enjoys Amish fiction.

About the author:

Murray Pura was born and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, just north of the Dakotas and Minnesota. His first novel was released in Toronto and was a finalist for the Dartmouth Book Award. He has been a finalist for several awards in the US and Canada and in 2012 won the Word Award of Toronto for Best Historical Novel. Murray lives and writes in Alberta and is currently published by Barbour, Baker, Harper One, Zondervan, Harvest House, Harper Collins and Harlequin. His diverse writing spans many genres including: historical fiction, contemporary fiction, literary fiction, romance, adventure, western, suspense, fantasy, Amish, and inspirational. His most recent releases include Petals (2016); Beautiful Skin (2016); All My Beautiful Tomorrows (2017); Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (2018). Murray has traveled extensively and lived abroad including such places as: Scotland and the UK; Ireland; France; Belgium; Holland; Germany; Switzerland; Austria; Czech Republic; Slovenia; Italy; Greece; Israel; Egypt; Iran; Afghanistan; Pakistan; Nepal; India; California; New Mexico.

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Merry and Bright by Debbie Macomber

About the book

Merry Knight is pretty busy these days. She’s taking care of her family, baking cookies, decorating for the holidays, and hoping to stay out of the crosshairs of her stressed and by-the-book boss at the consulting firm where she temps. Her own social life is the last thing she has in mind, much less a man. Without her knowledge, Merry’s well-meaning mom and brother create an online dating profile for her—minus her photo—and the matches start rolling in. Initially, Merry is incredulous, but she reluctantly decides to give it a whirl.

Soon Merry finds herself chatting with a charming stranger, a man with similar interests and an unmistakably kind soul. Their online exchanges become the brightest part of her day. But meeting face-to-face is altogether different, and her special friend is the last person Merry expects—or desires. Still, sometimes hearts can see what our eyes cannot. In this satisfying seasonal tale, unanticipated love is only a click away.

Publication Date:  October 3, 2017

Publisher:  Ballantine Books

Genre: Contemporary fiction, Christmas

My review

This book is classic Debbie Macomber! After not really enjoying the past couple of books by her I was pleasantly surprised at how much I liked this story. It was a quick and easy read.

Everything about this story was perfect. The characters, the situation they found themselves in, and the pace of the story were just excellent. Once I started reading this story I really didn’t want to put it down to go to bed. The story pulled me in and I just couldn’t get enough of these characters. There were moments that made me smile and even chuckle out loud. This book is a perfect Christmas read.

Fans of Debbie Macomber will enjoy this book. This would also be a great introduction to those not familiar with her work. This is a fun read and one that could easily be read more than once without becoming boring. Definitely one for the keeper shelf.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher and was not required to write a review. All opinions are mine.

About the author

Debbie Macomber is a #1 New York Times bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers with more than 200 million copies of her books in print worldwide. In her novels, Macomber brings to life compelling relationships that embrace family and enduring friendships, uplifting her readers with stories of connection and hope. Macomber’s novels have spent over 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list. Thirteen of these novels hit the number one spot.

In 2017, Macomber’s all-new hardcover publications include If Not for You (March), Any Dream Will Do (August), and Merry and Bright (October). In addition to fiction, Macomber has also published two bestselling cookbooks, an adult coloring book, numerous inspirational and nonfiction works, and two acclaimed children’s books.

Celebrated as “the official storyteller of Christmas”, Macomber’s annual Christmas books are beloved and five have been crafted into original Hallmark Channel movies. Macomber is also the author of the bestselling Cedar Cove Series which the Hallmark Channel chose as the basis for its first dramatic scripted television series. Debuting in 2013, Debbie Macomber’s Cedar Cove was a ratings favorite for three seasons.

Macomber owns The Grey House Café, which also features a gift shop and a Hallmark Gold Crown store inside. It is located in the Village Square campus, which also serves as Debbie’s corporate headquarters.

She serves on the Guideposts National Advisory Cabinet, is a YFC National Ambassador, and is World Vision’s international spokesperson for their Knit for Kids charity initiative. A devoted grandmother, Debbie and Wayne live in Port Orchard, Washington, the town which inspired the Cedar Cove series.

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