CHISELED ON THE HEART: A Christmas Legacy Novella Collection
AUTHORS: Elaine Marie Cooper, Kelly Goshorn, Cynthia Roemer & Candace West
GENRE: Historical Romance Collection (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Scrivenings Press
RELEASE DATE: October 2, 2023
A Christmas Legacy Novella Collection
The Gift of a Lamb by Elaine Cooper
In 1776, 14-year-old Charlotte Hawkins and her brother, 10-year-old Elias, are still grieving the death of their parents. Their parents left instructions to be sent from their home state of Virginia to live with relatives they barely know, in Connecticut. The trip was dangerous, as war raged between the Redcoats and the Americans. To make matters worse, the churches in Connecticut don’t celebrate Christmas at all. Will this be the orphans’ worst Christmas ever?
A Lasting Legacy by Cynthia Roemer
Loudoun County, Virginia, 1814. After a disabling injury sends Daniel Hawkins home from war, he struggles how to provide for his young wife, Maggie and the child she’s carrying. As Christmas approaches, he finds a sheep his grandfather carved and attempts to carve a nativity set for Maggie. When she goes into labor during a Christmas Eve blizzard, Daniel is forced to face his feelings of inadequacy. And perhaps learn that God has a plan for his life after all.
Healing within the Pieces by Candace West
Prison shackles haunt Nathaniel Hawkins upon his return home only to discover it occupied by a woman in hiding. Bad men are no strangers to Delia Evans, but the intruder who barged into the farmhouse shrinks from her. With no other refuge, they must endure each other. But have they misjudged? When the past shadows their doorstep, is a grudge worth the price of a man’s life?
The Christmas Carving by Kelly Goshorn
Wyatt Hawkins dreads Christmas. Memories from the fatal shooting of his childhood friend on Christmas Eve, 1864, has left a bitter taste in Wyatt’s mouth toward God, the holiday season, and his former fiancée, Madelyn Cunningham. As Christmas draws near, can the star he’s carving for his family’s heirloom nativity point Wyatt back to the woman he’s never forgotten and the faith he’s left behind?
“Poverty and uncertainty were uninvited guests at the nativity. But redemption showed up, brightening mankind’s hopeless future.”
The four novellas that make up the Chiseled on the Heart collection give us a front row seat to a tender family legacy at different points in early American history. Their talent in woodworking & carving continues down the family tree, along with a nativity set heirloom that is added to in meaningful ways by each new generation, corresponding to the work God is doing in the carvers’ individual lives.
Elaine Marie Cooper’s The Gift of a Lamb introduces us to the Hawkins family and the eventual patriarch of the line we will follow throughout this collection. I loved Uncle Silas and his obvious affection for his orphaned niece and nephew who are the focus of this story. The poignant nature of the carving tools and the wooden lamb that play key roles in the rest of the collection is also a heartwarming touch. While there are some romantic elements in this novella, most of it is told through the perspective of a ten-year-old boy so I would classify it more historical fiction than romance.
In Cynthia Roemer’s A Lasting Legacy, we catch up with the next generation of the Hawkins family in 1814, joining Daniel in the midst of a fierce battle that becomes life-altering for the young newlywed & soon-to-be father. I found his journey to be so compelling and identified with his struggle to adjust to a new normal while battling feelings of inadequacy. I adored his wife Maggie and how she supported him unconditionally with a quiet-but-tough love. How the nativity comes to be is truly special, and watching them navigate through this trial with God’s help was sweet and inspiring.
In Healing within the Pieces, Candace West picks up about 20 years after Roemer’s story ends, and I must confess that my heart ached after learning what has happened to Nathaniel since last we saw him. West quickly soothed my grief, however, by showing Nathaniel to be a man of integrity with a compassionate heart. I thought his inner turmoil was well-layered, and the way West crafted his faith journey to ‘finish’ the nativity set was quite touching and emotional for me. I loved meeting Delia – oh, how I wanted to hug her – and of course the romance fan in me was all for her being allowed to continue hiding out in his house! I also enjoyed visiting with Nathaniel’s parents once more.
Kelly Goshorn’s The Christmas Carving is a beautiful finale to our time with the Hawkins family, with all the Christmas vibes, and while I hated saying goodbye to them I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect conclusion to our time together. Wyatt Hawkins continues the legacy of the nativity set, kicking and screaming, and I loved watching him come to terms with his bitterness against God. So tenderly written. His renewed acquaintance with his former fiancee Madelyn is sweet & swoony – I adored their chemistry, and I couldn’t help thinking that Madelyn and I would be great friends if she wasn’t a fictional character.
Bottom Line: Chiseled on the Heart is a heartwarming collection that points us to the true meaning of Christmas through the stories of one ordinary family who becomes very special to us. Set mostly in Virginia, except for one story set partially in Connecticut, we watch the Hawkins endure through the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the aftermath of the Civil War, death, illness, injury, and even prison. Each author brings her own style and voice to the collection, yet each novella acts as a unified part of a much bigger story – one of redemption, grace, and the Hope of Christmas.
(I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book which I read via Kindle Unlimited. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4 stars / loved it!
KissingBook Level: 2+ / varying levels of a warm rosy glow of sweetness
Award-winning author Elaine Marie Cooper‘s novels are filled with lesser-known conflicts in the American Revolution. Having grown up in Massachusetts, she became a self-described history geek. Although no longer living in New England, she still loves to visit where the war to free America began. She is married with two sons and five grandchildren. Her only daughter died of brain cancer in 2003. Connect with Elaine at her website.
Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into inspiring stories of love, faith, and family set in America’s vibrant past. Her debut novel, A Love Restored, won the Director’s Choice Award for Adult/YA fiction at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference in 2019, and earned recognition as both a Selah Award finalist in the Historical Romance category and as a Maggie Award Finalist for Inspirational Fiction. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys, binge-watching BBC period dramas, board-gaming with her family, exploring historical sights, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi. Stay in touch with Kelly at her website.
Cynthia Roemer is an inspirational, award-winning author who enjoys planting seeds of hope into the hearts of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the mid-1800’s prairie and Civil War era. She writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of twenty-nine years. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Visit Cynthia online at her website.
Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta but grew up in small-town Arkansas. She is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. Ever since the age of twelve, she dreamed of writing inspirational fiction. Over the years, she has published short stories as well as poems in various magazines. By weaving entertaining, page-turning stories, she hopes to share the Gospel and encourage her readers. Connect with Candace at her website.
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