Review: The 12 Brides of Christmas collection

December 7, 2015 Amanda Cabot, Amy Lillard, Christian, Christmas, Davalynn Spencer, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, historical, Margaret Brownley, Mary Connealy, Maureen Lang, Michelle Ule, Miralee Ferrell, Pam Hillman, romance, Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough 7

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Enter the heartland of historical America at Christmastime through twelve inspiring romance novellas from acclaimed Christian authors. Meet Alma, Lucy, Esther, Marilee, Polly, Deborah, Annabelle, Sophie, Maddie, Karen, Arabella, and Kate who are surprised by how God brings them the desires of their hearts. Watch as faith, romance, and heartfelt gifts open each of their hearts to love.

my thoughtsI love these collections from Barbour Books! They have introduced me to brand new authors and given me tastes of authors I knew of but hadn’t read before.  But usually when you have this many different authors in one place, there are bound to be a couple of stories that I don’t like. That was not the case in The 12 Brides of Christmas.  I have my favorite novellas of the group, certainly, but each story was very well-written with solidly developed & engaging characters and emotionally-satisfying plots. My only wish is that each novella had been its own full-length novel so that I could have more of the delightful characters.

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The Festive Bride by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer follows Roy Gibbons, a widower with two young daughters who have been asking him to find them a mama for Christmas. Enter Alma Pickens, who may have agreed to this brokered marriage of convenience but refuses to give up on her dreams!

Very cute and sweet story that will warm your heart, with doses of cuteness and gentle romance. I loved Alma’s list of courting expectations, and Roy’s flabbergastedness (is that a word? I don’t think it’s a word. Oh well.) at how he was supposed to do all of those things.

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Margaret Brownley’s The Nutcracker Bride is full of humor and delicious flirtation and romance.  When Texas Ranger Chad Prescott tracks down Lucy Langdon to recover the gunnysack of money he’d tossed into her wagon for safekeeping, he certainly didn’t expect her to shoot him! Waking up to a house full of German nutcrackers doesn’t do much to ease his anxiety over the situation either, but until he’s recovered – and finds that money – he’s stuck with them.  And with Lucy. Although that last part isn’t so bad.

Chad and Lucy are two characters that I would LOVE to have seen in a full-length novel because I quite simply was not ready to say goodbye to them at the end of the novella. Their chemistry was readily tangible, and Chad’s personality made me grin just about the entire story.

the christmas star bride

In The Christmas Star Bride, Amanda Cabot has penned an exquisitely sweet romance with a message of enduring hope despite a journey that looks different than you had planned.  The Civil War stole away their first loves, whether by death or change of heart, and both Esther Hathaway and Jeremy Snyder have resigned themselves to a lonely life.  Their paths cross when Esther commissions Jeremy to continue a family tradition and paint her niece’s wedding portrait.  It’s not long before they both start to wonder if the other person might be the answer to their prayers.

I really enjoyed all elements of this story – the characters, the plot, the message, and the romance.  Very well-written and had the depth of a much longer novel despite its relatively short length.

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Melanie Douglas has two archenemies. One is her crotchety landlady.  The other is a little boy who might be smarter than everyone else but he’s also more trouble.  When she finds inspiration in an old heirloom of her landlady’s, the Advent box Melanie creates might just be the answer she’s been seeking.  The toys and trinkets she squirrels away for Simon to find aren’t the only hidden rewards, especially when Simon’s dad becomes involved in the game.

Mary Connealy’s The Advent Bride wins my award for the funniest line in this collection! I literally laughed out loud at the opening words to her novella – “Being a teacher was turning out to be a little like having the flu.” LOL! As a former elementary school teacher, this struck me as perfectly descriptive of my one (and only) year of full-time classroom teaching 🙂  The whole novella was full of great lines like that, as well as a very heartwarming story and sweet romance.

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The Christmas Tree Bride by Susan Page Davis provides a fascinating peek into the lives of stagecoach station operators and drivers. Polly Winfield admires Jacob Tierney, one of the stagecoach drivers that regularly stops at her father’s station.  While living at the station is alright, it would be even better if she could have a Christmas tree. Hearing her wish, Jacob promises to find one for her and bring it on his next trip to the station.  But when winter hits with a vengeance, will Jacob survive the extreme conditions to deliver her tree?

I really enjoyed learning about the life of a stagecoach station through Susan Page Davis’ story crafting.  It was a part of history I had never really paid too much attention to before, and I found it very intriguing.

the nativity bride

Five years ago, Curt Warren’s father told him he’d never succeed at a woodworking career – at least not enough to provide for his childhood sweetheart Deborah Summers.  Knowing Deborah would never leave her ailing mother, Curt left without her to pursue his dreams and prove his father wrong.  Now he’s back in town and must convince Deborah – and his father – that he’s a changed man in every way except who holds his heart.

The Nativity Bride by Miralee Ferrell is an incredibly sweet novella with an equally sweet message of family, forgiveness, and faith. I especially liked the twist with the nativity and the journals – it added much emotional poignancy to the tale.

the evergreen bride

In The Evergreen Bride, Pam Hillman weaves a breathlessly romantic tale of one man’s unrequited love and one woman’s dawning awareness. Annabelle Denson frequently stops by her brother’s fledgling sawmill and tells his business partner Samuel Frazier all about her dreams of a white Christmas far away from Mississippi.  Will she ever see him as more than a friend or will her trip to Illinois for the holiday be permanent?

This novella wins my award for single most romantic moment in the collection! As a fellow snow-enthusiast, I completely related to Annabelle’s wish and my heart got all melty inside when I read about Samuel’s gift to her. Seriously swoon-worthy.  Watching Annabelle slowly begin to see Samuel as an attractive man and watching Samuel love her from afar (and then not so afar lol) also brought its share of swooning. Make sure you have a fainting couch and/or fan on hand for this one!

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Sophie Stewart’s family has just resettled in Chicago, with the express hope of finding her a husband. The last person she expected to act interested in her is Noah Jackson who teased her mercilessly when they were growing up. Unwilling to believe that Noah has matured enough to be worthy of her love, Sophie gets roped into helping Noah with the church’s Christmas pageant.  Can a young rascal of a street urchin teach her that hearts do change?

Maureen Lang’s The Gift-Wrapped Bride reminded me in some delightful ways of Anne Shirley and Gilbert Blythe.  In other ways, I couldn’t help thinking of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.  Both books invoke warm childhood memories for me, and this story did the same.

the gingerbread bride

Maddie Sinclair feels that Harlan Calhoun needs an extra push to fall all the way in love with her.  So she purchases a “love potion” of herbs from her eccentric neighbor and bakes him some very special gingerbread cookies. At the last minute, she sees the error of her ways but it’s too late.  Harlan has already gobbled up all the cookies! To make matters worse, he proposes nearly on the spot.  Is it his heart talking or just the herbs?

The Gingerbread Bride by Amy Lillard wins my award for the most hilarious novella in this collection.  Lots of madcap mayhem as Maddie and her sister Grace try to straighten out this whole love potion debacle.  If you are a fan of Jen Turano’s novels, you will really enjoy this story!

the fruitcake bride

Karen Briggs has finally joined her fiance Pastor Clayton Parsons, affectionately known as “Parson Parsons” by the townsfolk, at his new church post.  While she prepares for their Christmas wedding, she seems to cause one disaster after another.  In trying to fit in, will she end up getting them both kicked out instead?

Nobody really likes fruitcake, but everybody should enjoy this story. In The Fruitcake Bride, Vickie McDonough combines humor, heart, and some really great kisses into a wonderfully entertaining Christmas novella.  A couple of the kisses may steal your breath so, you know – just go in prepared 😉

the snowbound bride

Escaping from her Uncle and his business deal of an arranged marriage for her, Arabelle Taube spies one of his henchmen and hides out in the back of a nearby wagon until he’s gone.  By the time the wagon’s driver discovers he has a stowaway, it’s too far and the snowstorm is too brutal to turn back toward town.  Forced to wait out the storm for days at Nate Horne’s remote ranch, she quickly forms a friendship with his mother who sees Ara as the answer to her prayers. When the weather clears, will Nate – and her heart – let her leave?

Davalynn Spencer’s The Snowbound Bride is another from the collection that I would like to see expanded into a full-length novel.  I grew quite fond of Ara, Nate, his mom, his uncle, and (especially?) Beetle the dog.  A bit of a plot twist at the end affirms his mother’s prayers, something I thought was really sweet and unique.

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Ewan Murray and Kate McDougall have been friends for years and share a love of music.  Having just returned from lengthy travel, Ewan is anxious to see Kate again and intends to ask for her hand in marriage. Sadly for him, Kate’s dad is set on his daughter marrying the son of a local banker, a young man certainly better able to provide for her than a struggling musician. He tells Ewan that he must earn a certain amount of money by Kate’s birthday to prove he can take care of her.  Living without Kate for the rest of his life is not an option, but where will Ewan come up with enough money to meet her father’s goal?

In The Yuletide Bride, Michelle Ule writes a sweet story of lifelong friends who have fallen in love.  I enjoyed seeing Ewan as a teacher, especially with Kate’s brother Malcolm, and particularly found the walk home in the snowstorm to be entertaining!

Bottom Line: I truly enjoyed this collection.  Each author is extremely gifted at crafting a story.  I think these would be great to read one a night on the 12 days leading up to Christmas!

My Rating: 4 stars / Loved it!

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

carrie reading xmas

giveaway blue

Each of the novellas is available separately for only $0.99 on Amazon right now, and a giveaway is currently open on Goodreads for a SIGNED copy of The 12 Brides of Christmas.

You can enter the Goodreads giveaway here:

Goodreads giveaway of signed copy

 

Carrie

7 Responses to “Review: The 12 Brides of Christmas collection”

  1. deannadodson

    Oh, this sounds delightful. Thanks for bringing it to my attention. What a sweet read for the twelve days leading up to Christmas!

  2. Trixi

    I have this wonderful collection sitting on my shelf, thanks to the generosity of Mary Connealy in a giveaway! I’ve seen these individual novellas on Amazon and have wanted to read them, not realizing they are all in the book I have….now I’m even more excited to read it 🙂 Thank you for sharing your review on them, I have even more to look forward to.

  3. mary1connealy

    Thank you so much for this nice review! I’m glad you enjoyed the book and I really appreciate you taking the time to write about it and spread the word!!!