1867 Windsor, Ontario, Canada, and Detroit, Michigan
When Canadian barrister Percy Gladstone finds his aristocratic British family unexpectedly descending upon him for Christmas, he turns to American social reformer Eugenie Mott and her fledgling catering crew, The Sugarplum Ladies, for help. Little does Percy, AKA Lord Kent, realize that this Christmas may start entirely new traditions. And little does Miss Eugenie Mott, to her chagrin, realize that the British idea of Christmastide extends through Epiphany! This Christmas is one to remember.
About the Author
Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., writes stories about overcoming with God’s help (including a Romantic Times Top Pick inspirational novel). She has 25 published fiction books. Carrie is an ECPA-bestselling award-winning author. She won the Maggie Award for Excellence medallion. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination. She’s the mother of two and married to the love of her life.
“I love the idea of helping others help themselves.”
The Sugarplum Ladies by Carrie Fancett Pagels is a delightful, light historical Christmas novella. The gorgeous holiday cover itself will be enough to draw you in.
Eugenie Mott, an 1867 Detroit resident, is resisting her father’s schemes to marry her off to a much older man. She prefers her work helping Civil War widows gain skills as waitresses so they can acquire needed jobs.
After meeting Canadian lawyer Percy Gladstone, Eugenie is drawn into his company. When Percy’s parents arrive from England while Percy has sent his servants on Christmas break, can the ladies that Eugenie has been training rise to meet the need?
I loved the heart both Eugenie and Percy have for helping others. Eugenie realizes that just giving money to a cause isn’t enough. She is a social reformer on a small scale, taking area widows, some of whom have turned to questionable ways to earn money, and giving them help for a lifetime by teaching them marketable skills.
In so many ways, the giving spirits of both Percy and Eugenie caused them to reach out to those around them and better lives. “This was what Christmas was truly all about. Loving others as Christ would love us.”
I found the notes about names, factual events, and recipes at the end very interesting!!
I was gifted a copy of the book by the author, plus bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Magnificent!! I really enjoy Ms. Pagels’ stories that blend faith and history.
Two successful women, a hundred-and-twenty-years apart, build walls to protect their hearts. Modern-day Willa, a successful interior decorator, is chosen to consult for the Grand Hotel’s possible redesign. She discovers a journal detailing the struggles of a young woman, Lily—which reveals dark secrets. The renowned singer wasn’t who she pretended to be. As Willa reaches out to Lily’s descendant, a charismatic and prominent landscape artist, she lets down her guard. Should she share the journal with him, or once again erect a wall as she struggles to redesign both the Grand and her life?
Behind Love’s Wall, the latest addition to the Doors to the Past series by Barbour, is a great dual timeline novel. Penned by Carrie Fancett Pagels, herself originally a “Yooper,” this romantic mystery is set on the magical Mackinac Island. Having a passing familiarity with the area, I enjoyed Ms. Pagels’s description of the Island, its landmarks, and the Grand Hotel itself. I had a little trouble with the dual timeline at first. This is unusual for me, as I generally read many dual-timelines without feeling lost. Eventually, I closed the book with a well-satisfied feeling that all things worked out, and there were some great twists and surprises that truly made the novel delightful. Bravo for a stunning conclusion!! The author’s notes were of great interest to me. They elaborate so well on the author’s research and separate fact from fiction, which I love.
Be prepared for the unexpected! Many of the main characters surprised me, like Michael. I really empathized with him as he struggled. I especially connected with Lilly, the heroine of the early timeline. How many times do we humans worry about a malady running through bloodlines or obsess over some parental issue we are sure we will inherit? Faith is a gentle aspect, bringing in hope and release from self-made prisons. Recommended!
I received a copy of this book from the author and publisher via Celebrate Lit and NetGalley. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Rating: 4 out of 5.
Great! Busy Dual Timeline, Mackinac Island Hides Family Secrets
About the Author
ECPA-bestselling author Carrie Fancett Pagels, Ph.D., is the award-winning author of over a dozen Christian historical romances. Twenty-five years as a psychologist didn’t “cure” her overactive imagination! A self-professed “history geek,” she resides with her family in the Historic Triangle of Virginia but grew up as a “Yooper” in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Carrie loves to read, bake, bead, and travel – but not all at the same time! You can connect with her at http://www.CarrieFancettPagels.com.
More from Carrie
Why I Wrote This Novel
I got a chance to write another novel set on Mackinac Island!!!
I’m the author of over twenty published stories. I have many books, both novel and novella length, set at the Straits of Mackinac including Maggie Award winner and Romantic Times Top Pick My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island. In the summer, I go up to the area and I’m blessed to sign books at the Island Bookstore—sometimes hundreds of books which is such an amazing thing I can’t tell you! Now that MHBoMI is out of print, Barbour has been helping by doing limited print runs for while I am up there.
My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island was originally part of a full series that I pitched but it didn’t get picked up for all three stories. MHBoMI got picked up as part of the My Heart Belongs series that Barbour put out a few years ago. The second book in my original Brides of Mackinac series was heroine Sadie’s story, which was published as a novella “His Anchor” in First Love Forever collection. So I had two of my book babies delivered out into the world and Lily’s story sat there for a while.
In the Covid summer of 2020, I arrived in my home state of Michigan and over dinner with a close friend I learned that the folks at the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island were having legal trouble with their previous long-time designed Carlton Varney suing them. I’d been disappointed that the Mussers, who’d owned the Grand for generations, had sold the hotel but this new development really bugged me. While I was in the Upper Peninsula, I finished an Indy book, Dogwood Plantation, which only figures since I often write my Michigan stories while I am in Virginia and vice versa! I knew the only other book I wanted to work on was to complete my Brides of Mackinac trilogy (not exactly since they aren’t all in one series!) with Lily’s story. I also had a manuscript about 70% done that was my very first contemporary Women’s Fiction novel. When my agent encouraged me to submit a Mackinac Island story set at the Grand Hotel to Barbour’s Doors to the Past series, I knew immediately that the only story for historical I wanted to write was Lily’s. That meant that I needed, for this dual-timeline series, a contemporary story. That wasn’t just a chance sharing at dinner—I believe the info about the lawsuit was meant to be passed on to me one of those God-incidences. My modern-day heroine then became an established resort designer who had a trunkful of issues just like Lily did.
Was I ever glad that I had finally written my first contemporary Women’s Fiction (Butterfly Cottage) because that skill set came in very handy in writing the modern-day 2020 story of Willa in Behind Love’s Wall! This was the most difficult novel to write that I have done so far as I write in character and going back and forth between the 1895 and 2020 timelines could be draining. I tried to write each character and setting on separate days but that couldn’t always be managed.
I pray that this story will touch readers’ hearts. I pray that someone, like the young waitress I meant on Mackinac Island who had been spiritually moved by My Heart Belongs on Mackinac Island (she read her grandmother’s copy after her grandma passed away!), will read this book and feel that connection to our Maker. That’s what Christian Fiction is all about!