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.
Authors: Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Olivia Talbott, Kathleen J. Robison, Denise L. Barela, Marguerite Martin Gray, and Naomi Craig.
Genre: Christian Christmas Romance
Release date: October 4, 2022
In castles far and near, long ago and yesterday, find happily-ever-afters wrapped in love and tied with Christmas joy.
The Lights of Castlebourne (by Cathe Swanson and Chautona Havig): He bowled her over at first sight–his dog, that is. Sydney just wanted a chance to do the landscape design at Castlebourne. She never dreamed the owner’s electrician would light up her heart at Christmas.
The Girl From Dalarna (by Olivia Talbott):She’s the most beautiful woman in Sweden, but she doesn’t want to be. A simple life among milk cows is all she desires. Will a scandal upend her plans and ruin her chances for love?
The Cross at Morioka Castle (by Kathleen J. Robison): In the ancient land of shoji screens and tatami mats, Ariko finds the stone ruins of Morioka Castle, and the mysterious cross that holds the secret of a Christian faith extending far deeper than Ariko ever imagined.
The Ghost of Christmas… (by Denise L. Barela):Abbigayl needs to get away for Christmas this year. No family, no questions about why she’s still single, no suggestion about being set up with someone’s friend. What will happen when Neuschwanstein Castle’s past converges with Abbigayl’s future?
Crystal Clear (by Marguerite Martin Gray):Rosalind’s muddied past and foggy future crystalize in Château Chenonceau, a refuge from gossip and more. Watch as the château and Christmas work their magic and break the bonds of propriety, and rejoice as Rosalind experiences the crystal-clear hints of peace, joy, and hope all around her.
The Weary World Rejoices (by Naomi Craig):Behind the elaborate furnishings of Herod the Great’s palace, conspiracy and distrust run rampant. Mysterious visitors from the east challenge everything Amal thinks he knows as palace scribe. Will his quest to uncover the Truth free him from the ornate shackles of palace life, or will he be the next victim of King Herod’s maniacal jealousy?
Grab a mug of something hot and delicious and curl up somewhere comfy. Your literary chariots await to take you on a journey from an early twentieth-century castle overlooking the Mississippi all the way back to the Holy Land at the time of Jesus’ birth. These six novellas, all set in castles real and fictional, celebrate the heart and joy of Christmas.
USA Today Bestselling author of Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
Cathe Swanson writes books with creative plots and engaging characters of all ages, to glorify God and entertain and bless readers. Her heartwarming stories will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.
Olivia Talbott grew up in Montana, but currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two daughters, a few sheep and a border collie. She loves words, traveling, pickles and having deep conversations about how Jesus changes everything. Visit her at oliviatalbott.com.
Kathleen J. Robison is an Okinawan-American, born in Okinawa, and raised in California, Florida, Mississippi, and Singapore. Her travels and her family are the sources of her inspiration for her books. Kathleen and her Pastor husband have eight adult children. Seven are married, blessing them with eighteen grandchildren and counting. Her ethnically diverse background extends to her family of currently thirty-five personalities which provide many opportunities to share God’s amazing love amidst the challenges of real life.
Denise L. Barela is a twenty-something-year-old writer with a passion for fiction, her faith, and just being creative in general. When she’s not working away at her desk, you might find her reading a good book or following Alice down the rabbit hole…
Marguerite Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband in north Louisiana. She writes historical fiction.
Author of Biblical fiction, avid reader, pastor’s wife, Naomi Craig loves reading the Bible and imagining how things were at the time. When she’s not serving in various areas at church, trying to stay on top of mountains of dishes or convincing her rescue dog, Freeway, to be cute on command for Instagram reels, you’ll most likely find her enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. Naomi co-hosts #BehindTheStory with Naomi and Lisa, an author interview show on YouTube and your podcast platform of choice.
More from Denise
I’m excited to share this set of stories with you! All the authors have worked hard to bring you some Christmas joy and magic. We’ve each picked a castle to center our stories around. I mean, Christmas and castles go well together, don’t you think? You’ll get to explore different castles in different time periods while also getting to know all the characters in each story. That’s a lot of new friends to make!
For my story, I jumped on the chance to write about a castle that inspired the castle that always brought me joy growing up (if I’m being honest, it still brings me joy). I’ve always been a huge Disney nerd, and Princess Aurora has always been my favorite Disney princess. Growing up, I was blessed to be able to visit Disneyland for most of my life, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle was my favorite thing (I was so sad when they closed the walk-through part for several years). Even without the attraction part of it, I loved walking into the park and seeing it stand at the end of Main Street. I actually teared up seeing it for the first time after Covid.
What does all this have to do with my castle story? Well, in 1869, King Ludwig II of Bavaria began construction on Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Let me tell you, if you thought Disneyland’s castle was beautiful, it’s got nothing on Neuschwanstein. If I were to pick a castle to live in, it’d be this one.
Setting aside the Disney connection, I was even more intrigued when I learned more about the king who commissioned it. The king was not very popular towards the end of his reign, and the day after he was sent to Berg Castle, he and a doctor were found dead in Lake Starnberg. The weird part? They ruled it a drowning, but there was no water in their lungs and clear signs of foul play.
Oh, but that’s not the only interesting fact this castle houses. This castle became a hiding place for some of the art the Nazi’s stole during World War II. Part of me wonders if any pieces are still hidden there. The Monuments Men group actually cataloged art found there, and it’s been preserved. Here’s a fun article from The Met all about it!
I hope you enjoyed learning about the castle that inspired my story!
Not sure what to read for Christmas? May I suggest Keeping Christmas, Vol I, is a good place to start? You’ll get castles, dogs, soba, laughter, tears, intrigue, and faith all in one book!
Chautona Havig’s name drew me in. Anything she writes is truly fun, attention-grabbing, and truth-filled. In The Lights of Castleberry, Havig and Cathe Swanson team up to produce a young landscaper who tries to convince a modern castle owner to let her beautify the grounds. Sydney and Philip fall in love, but miscommunication and Sydney’s failure to stand up for herself threaten their happiness. Meanwhile, Sydney’s cousin Arielle pushes Mark into sharing more than his curmudgeon spirit is willing. This is a story to come, hopefully!
Another of the novellas that intrigued me was The Cross at Morioko Castle by Kathleen J Robison. Set in Japan and containing several Japanese words, I didn’t connect with the characters at first, but kept reading. Soon, I found myself ensnared in the saga of a young Japanese Christian girl, whose rich great-grandmother wants to make amends before dying. Can Ariko stay true to the faith and follow Obaachan’s demands? What about the mysterious Kai? Is he all he claims to be? I loved the legend, the samurai, and even the business dealings. And God’s placement of people at just the right time and place!
The last novella that I want to highlight closes the book, and how fitting! You may think you’ve heard the Christmas story a million times, but until you see it through Amal’s eyes, you are missing something! My heart rejoiced along with Amal’s by the conclusion of this novella. The Weary World Rejoices by Naomi Craig is Biblical fiction that will make you shiver, review Scripture, cry, cheer, evaluate how you treat Scripture (all while being an unputdownable story)!
I received a copy of the book from Celebrate Lit. I also bought my own copy. No positive review was required, and all opinions are my own.
Magnificent!! I have found at least one story I want to read multiple times before Christmas, plus several new-to-me authors to add to my staggering TBR!!
Bodyguard Sally Wilson has become the target. Can she save her own life as well as her daughter’s?
Christmas is supposed to be the happiest time of the year, but when Sally’s young daughter, Emma, becomes the target of child traffickers, and the little girl’s biological father wants Sally dead, the Christmas season takes a dark turn.
Police officer, Dillon Brady, responds to a call for help at the home of his friend and Protection Inc. bodyguard, Sally Wilson. When their relationship tips beyond friendship, Dillon is determined no one will hurt Sally or her daughter again. Will his resolve be enough?
Sally is drawn to Dillon. He’s a natural with Emma and appears to care about both of them. Sally’s been fooled before by a man she believed loved her, but what if it’s an act? Can Sally learn to trust again and follow her heart, or will Dillon get relegated to the friend zone?
Award winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance and romantic mystery and suspense with a heart.
Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
Every year since I signed the contract for my debut novel, a book set at Christmastime, I have made it a goal to write a Christmas book, usually a novella. This year, Personal Threat is that book.
I wrapped up the series with Personal Threat. My husband came up with the title for this one because the threat in this book is very personal for one of the Protection Inc. team members.
We first met Sally in book two of the series and it seemed only fitting she starred in a book of her own. We also get to know Dillon better in this book which for me was super fun to write. He’s played an important and growing role as the series has progressed and is one of my favorite characters in the series.
“She couldn’t take much more of these adrenaline bursts. She was liable to age ten years at this rate.” Yet, it seems all of Personal Threat, #5 Protection Inc, by Kimberly Johnson, is made up of adrenaline rushes. From start to finish, you will be glued to your seat as you quickly thumb through or swipe pages.
Sally Wilson, a member of the Protection Inc, team, is frantic to protect her young adopted daughter, Emma. Emma’s biological father wants her back and will stop at nothing to get her. Sally must utilize the professional help of her own team, plus the policeman they call in for back-up when the chips are down.
Trust is a huge issue. If Sally couldn’t trust her first love, how can she trust Dillon Brady, a man who is becoming more and more important with each tumultuous day?
I enjoyed seeing all the Protection Inc group again and getting glimpses of their continuing lives. It was neat seeing this group grow even closer and expand to include one, not their technically their own.
I loved that Dillon is persistent enough in his pursuit that he takes Sally to God in prayer. He actually challenges her to ask God for more than she has considered or hoped. “I’m going to pray for you that the Lord will open your heart to love again. But to a man that will treasure and love you the way God intended…“What’s the matter, Sally? Don’t you want God’s help in the love department?” “It’s not that. It never occurred to me to bother Him with my love life or lack thereof.” I believe Sally begins to understand here what Dillon is getting at… God is interested in every part of a person’s life, and He can be trusted, no matter what circumstances say. A lesson Sally sorely needs to learn and so do many readers.
Personal Threat is part of a series that is best read in order to understand and appreciate the relationships within the various books. If you like children, romantic suspense, or reading about workgroups that form familial bonds, this is a good choice.
I received a copy of this book from CelebrateLit. All opinions are solely my own.
Title: Once Upon a Dickens Christmas: 3 Charming Christmas Tales Set in Victorian England
Author: Michelle Griep
Publisher: Shiloh Run Press
Released: September 2019
Pour yourself a cuppa, get lost in the merriment of the season, and enjoy a Dickensian Christmas in three stories from fan-favorite Michelle Griep:
12 Days a Bleakly Manor: Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters. What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
A Tale of Two Hearts: Pleasure seeker William Barlow needs a wife immediately to gain his uncle’s inheritance, and Mina Scott is just the girl to make him look respectable—too bad she turns him down. Ought he give her a second chance?
The Old Lace Shop: Recently widowed Bella White is finally freed from the domination of the overbearing men in her life, but when she enters into a business partnership with the handsome Edmund Archer, she begins to wonder if marriage is worth a second chance.
A “second chance coin” and something that reminds me of “six degrees of separation ” from Charles Dickens threads itself through these three, lovely Yuletide novellas. Two have already been published (but a truly good story is always worth a re-read), while the third is brand-new.
I enjoyed reviewing The Twelve Days at Bleakly Manor. It brings our first couple together, Clara and Ben.
This novella was the recipient of the 2018 Christy award. My quote here?
“If you knew all the answers, there’d be no need for trust, little one.”
Next was one of my favorites, The Tale Of Two Hearts. It is the story of scoundrel William Barlow who pretends to be married to serving maid Mina Scott, in order to inherit. Oh, how I loved the characters in this one! Mina sure can stand up for herself! And the descriptive quotes:
“His face was a road map of years.”
“He wore his wrinkles like a garment, the deep creases on his
face in sore need of ironing.”
Indeed, Griep speaks Dickensian quite fluently.
“… real joy is not found in the best moments of life, but in trusting that God is making the best of every moment.”
“Maybe, perhaps, true meaning in life had nothing to do with outward trappings but with inward genuineness.”
The Old Lace Shop brings us, Edmund and Bella, thrust together as unwilling business partners. I loved the mystery on a couple of different levels, and the wisdom both Bella and Edmund show.
“The two are as thick as scabs on a pox victim.”(Try picturing that one!)
“Either your faith will move mountains or your doubt will create them.”
This next sentence reminds us that even those without the “usual” gifts others have, may have a greater gift, the gift of joy. “How I wish I could bottle up the child’s laughter and carry it around with me, opening it now and then for a draught of joy when needed.” How true!
I received this complimentary book from the author and publisher. No positive review was required and all opinions are my own.
About the Author
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the latter. Way cheaper. I’ve been writing since I discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write…except for that graffiti phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?
As a first-year law associate, Sydney Batson knows she will be updating her resume by New Year’s if she loses her current court case. So when her grandmother gets inexplicably ill while she’s in court, Sydney arranges for a cab to get her to the clinic.
The last thing cab driver Finn Parrish wants is to be saddled with a wheelchair-bound old lady with dementia. But because Miss Callie reminds him of his own mother, whom he failed miserably in her last days, he can’t say no when she keeps calling him for rides. Once a successful gourmet chef, Finn’s biggest concern now is making his rent, but half the time Callie doesn’t remember to pay him. And as she starts to feel better, she leads him on wild goose chases to find a Christmas date for her granddaughter.
When Finn meets Sydney, he’s quite sure that she’s never needed help finding a date. Does Miss Callie have an ulterior motive, or is this just a mission-driven by delusions? He’s willing to do whatever he can to help fulfill Callie’s Christmas wish. He just never expected to be a vital part of it.
I’ve read most, if not all of Terri Blackstock’s Christian fiction, but I’ve never read Terri Blackstock like this. Catching Christmas is short, sweet, seasonal, and just plain hilarious. I think I laughed out loud every other page, at least.
Callie is an elderly wheel-chair- bound lady whom Finn, a down-on-his-luck cab driver, is called to drive to the dr. The story takes off from there and is so very captivating I almost finished it in one sitting.
I loved reluctant but good-hearted Finn, inhibition-less Carrie and conflicted Sydney.
What a feel-good Christmas book!
Blackstock details a very merry return to faith, roots, and sensibility, with romance mixed in for good measure.
Highly recommended for this season of joy.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from NetGalley and CelebrateLit. I was not required to leave a review and all opinions are solely my own.
About the Author
Terri Blackstock has sold over seven million books worldwide and is a New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author. She is the award-winning author of Intervention, Vicious Cycle, and Downfall, as well as such series as Cape Refuge, Newpointe 911, the SunCoast Chronicles, and the Restoration Series. Catching Christmas is her first Christmas romance. Visit her website at www.terriblackstock.com Facebook: tblackstock Twitter: @terriblackstock
From Terri Blackstock
Enjoy this premium excerpt from Catching Christmas