I hope you’ll forgive all the book reviews this week. I happened to finish a few around the same time. Because of that, and because the first two books here are a little shorter than usual, I decided to review them together.
I first read, or rather listened to, The Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon a few years ago when it was free for Audible subscribers. I reviewed it here, so I won’t repeat all that. The condensed version: Sir John Penlyon is an old man in Victorian England who is not a Scrooge, but is a little gruff. He complains to his friend, Danby, that Christmas is boring. Danby replies that “Nobody knows how to enjoy Christmas if he has no children to make happy.” Then Danby proposes that they hire some children to come and stay at the manor over Christmas. He knows of a family with three children who have very nice manners but are reduced in circumstances. If Sir John would “hire” the widow’s children, it would liven up their Christmas plus be a help to the family.
Sir John thinks the idea is preposterous, but agrees as long as he doesn’t have to be involved other than paying for the experiment.
The children get off on the wrong foot with Sir John at first, but soon the children bring joy and life into the old house. Until tragedy strikes.
Sir John’s back story is quite touching. I loved listening to this again. I caught things I had missed the first time.
The audiobook is superbly narrated by Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield in Peter Jackson’s Hobbit movies). I may make listening to this an annual tradition.
I got Snowed In for Christmas by Cami Checketts also through Audible. I don’t remember if it was free with my subscription or on a “2 books for 1 credit” sale.
Charlotte Oliver is a firefighter with a lifelong crush on her sister’s friend, Jace Mitchell. Charlotte suspected her sister, Virginia, and Jace were more than friends. But Jace left eight years ago to go into the military, and Virginia married someone else. Then Virginia and her unborn child tragically died in a car accident.
Now Jace is back in town, trying to establish a medical practice. Charlotte is as attracted as ever, but she thinks Jace probably still loves her sister.
Jace had always thought of Charlotte as a cute little sister, but now she’s grown up into a beautiful woman. But he knows a relationship with her is impossible. He’s sworn to secrecy over an event in his past, and he knows Char would never forgive him if she discovered it.
This book reminded me why I don’t usually read stories that are primarily romances. So much talk about kissing, anticipating kissing, remembering kissing. Sure, kissing is fun, but there is so much more to love than that.
The book actually got more interesting to me when Char did accidentally find out Jace’s secret, and they had to work through that.
I did not like how Char’s “Grams” handled things, but I don’t want to spoil the story by explaining.
If you like clean faith-based Christmas romances, you’d probably like this.
In Midnight, Christmas Eve by Andy Clapp, Brady Jameson was a high school junior out finishing some shopping on Christmas Eve when he saw a girl crying on a park bench. He approached her to see if he could help and discovered the girl was Sarah, the head cheerleader, girlfriend to the school’s best athlete. Brady provided a shoulder to cry on, and he and Sarah became friends.
Sarah’s boyfriend, Aiden, is not good for her, but she stays with him. Brady realizes Sarah has come to mean very much to him, but keeps his distance since she’s dating someone else.
After another chance encounter and another opportunity to comfort Sarah through another crises, she makes a proposition: that if neither of them are married within five years, they’ll meet at Christmas Eve at “their” bench and get married.
Brady agrees and shows up at the appointed time, but Sarah doesn’t. Their lives intersect at various times, but they never mention their promise. Brady comes every Christmas Eve, even when he tells himself he’s a fool for doing so. But Sarah never shows up.
Is Brady a picture of faithful love? Or is he deluded, letting life pass him by while he waits for an impossible dream?
I loved this book. It had me in tears in a couple of places. I appreciated that the characters’ faith was interwoven so naturally and seamlessly.
Though technically this was also a romance, it was so much deeper and so much more was involved than in the previous book I mentioned.
My Christmas reading is off to a good start!