Winter Kisses by Beth Wiseman
Three generations of Stoltzfus women are all living under the same roof. At twenty-five, Naomi has never been married, and both her mother, Barbara, and her grandmother, Ruth, have recently been widowed. Each nursing broken or lonely hearts, they also each have potential suitors. When a storm on Christmas Eve forces the three couples to take shelter in the basement of the Stotlzfus homestead, secrets are revealed, hearts are opened, and all three potential grooms drop to their knees for very different reasons a proposal, a prayer, and an epiphany.
I feel like no matter how I chose to review novella’s the first story always bears the brunt. Not necessarily about the story or even in my feelings about the story or the rating of the book. Novella’s are hard for me to love. I have a ‘thing’ about the whole falling in love so fast and jumping both feet in. I’ve talked about that before a few times. Novella’s also have a hard time truly building an integrated story that doesn’t feel rushed or lacking or having massive time jumps to attempt to resolve a story line. Wiseman hit this one out of the park! Yes they fell in love entirely too fast for my liking. Oh the abundance of love stories in this concise little novella. A love for three generations, at the same time! The author even managed to seamless integrate the ‘grit’ (for lack of a better word), that I love about her books, seamlessly. It added to the depth of the characters without detracting from the story of love. This is what novella’s need to be, for me. There was no need to figure out where they ended up and jumping time for a tidy bow. It was exactly what it needed to be in the moment. No need to borrow from the future. No need to dwell on the past. I’m almost speechlessly blown away.
The Christmas Cat by Amy Clipston
Emma Bontrager is spending her first Christmas alone after her husband of 45 years, Henry, passed away in July. Although the Amish don t normally allow animals in their homes, a big, fat, orange barn cat keeps coming into Emma’s house. She shoos the cat away, but it continues to appear in her house, settling on Henry s favorite wingchair. But the cat isn’t the only Christmas visitor: a group of young people help bring the Christmas spirit to Emma, reminding her that love and hope abide.
Let’s keep the awesome rolling shall we? Another perfectly woven novella that developed endearing characters with a strong story line that was just comfortable in it’s own skin. One cozy snowbound night with a grieving widow, a stray cat, and a group of teenagers that may or may not have courting in their future. Memories shared, memories made, a love for the ages. The first two novellas in this collection are everything I didn’t know I wanted in a novella. A snapshot of a moment in time without the overarching need to make it more. Though to be fair, I was skeptical how this story fit with the title. I mean a story about a cat and some kids? But it does. It embraces the title like a favorite old comfy sweater on a cold winter night. Throw in some hot cocoa and I’m hooked.
Snow Angels by Kelly Irvin
As a young man enjoying his rumspringa, David Byler gave his heart to an Englisch girl, but he eventually realized he couldn’t give up his Plain faith and family for her, so he let her go. He s found a new love in his Bee County Plain community, Molly Shrock. Molly has been patient, waiting for the man she loves to love her back. Just as he is ready to propose, David makes a startling discover: Bobbie McGregor, his Englisch love, is back. Will Molly’s prayers for a Christmas love be answered?
This story had a few very sweet moments that I fell in love with. The story itself as one of redemption and forgiveness and love was spot on. However, I didn’t feel like I had a good grasp of the characters and the larger picture at play. There were moments of the snapshot of time that I loved in the previous stories but there was so much backstory that I didn’t get a good grasp on that made these characters harder to get a good grasp on and to truly care about. They lacked a depth in this story that I suspect has been developed somewhere else that I’ve not read. This story still has a gentle sweetness that I adored and which redeemed what I lacked in character understanding and story flow.
Home for Christmas by Ruth Reid
When a misdirected GPS sends Ellie Whetstone to the wrong address, she inadvertently finds herself breaking into the home of Amish man, Ezra Mast. Ellie hopes to fix up the house left by her aenti and sell it quickly, but a series of run-ins with Ezra and his young daughter have her questioning whether a hasty sale is the right move. Could this new place with its slower pace be the right home for Ellie?
Oh for the love of gravy! Reid’s story wrapped up this collection so perfectly that I have a slight book hangover. More than a snapshot but less than the need for a complete novel, this book hit each and every little tiny Christmas nail on the head. Bringing it all home with characters to love and cherish and a story that was just so fitting and filled with love. It’s hard to embrace the idea that Ellie would give up everything she knows for something that she has so few memories of. However, at the end of the day faith in God, openness to humanity, and a bit of ‘neighborliness’ makes it all just so embracing and honest and ultimately believable.
I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by Ruth Reid and NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
About Beth Wiseman
Beth has a deep affection for the Amish and their simpler way of life, and while she plans to continue writing Amish love stories, she is also branching out into other areas. Her first non-Amish, contemporary—Need You Now—released in April 2012 and landed on the CBA Bestseller List. She enjoyed writing the story based in a town near where she lives, and she chose another small Texas town for her next non-Amish contemporary—The House that Love Built—which is based in Smithville, the same quaint town where movies such as Hope Floats and Tree of Life were filmed. Beth continued to spread her wings when she released The Promise in October 2014. Inspired by actual events, The Promise follows Beth’s characters all the way to Pakistan. Beth was involved in the real-life rescue when her friend was held captive in Pakistan. Beth is currently working on book #2 in her new Amish Secrets series, tentatively titled Jacob’s Ladder. Book #1—Her Brother’s Keeper—recently released and was chosen as a Top Pick by RT Reviews Magazine.
Beth and her husband are empty nesters enjoying the country life in Texas with three dogs and a rooster. When she’s not writing, she loves to travel, paint, and enjoy time with friends and family.
About Amy Clipston
I enjoy spending time with my family, including my hubby, my two wonderful sons, my mom, and my four spoiled-rotten cats. I love reading.
I’m an advocate for organ and blood donation. I donated a kidney on June 14, 2011, at Johns Hopkins Hospital. Through my donation, my husband received a second kidney transplant. My husband and I matched another couple and we swapped kidneys with them. I gave a kidney to my husband’s donor’s wife. Feel free to email me and ask me what it was like to be a kidney donor. It was one of the most amazing experiences in my life. If you’re healthy, please donate blood! Also, become an organ donor.
About Kelly Irvin
The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for more than thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. She recently retired after working 22 years in public relations for the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers.
Kelly is married to photographer Tim Irvin. They make their home in San Antonio, Texas. They have two young adult children, two grandchildren, and two ornery cats. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors, especially mysteries and romantic suspense novels.
About Ruth Reid
Ruth Reid is a CBA and ECPA best-selling author of the Heaven on Earth series. She’s a full-time pharmacist who resides in Florida with her husband and three children.