Wednesday, January 1, 2020

1. The 12 Brides of Christmas

The Twelve Brides of Christmas Collection. Barbour Books. 2015. 544 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Historical; Romance; Christian]

The 12 Brides of Christmas Collection is a novella collection featuring twelve holiday-themed romances. It features novellas by Margaret Brownley, Mary Connealy, Diana Lesire Brandmeyer, Amanda Cabot,  Susan Page Davis, Miralee Ferrell, Pam Hillman, Maureen Lang, Amy Lillard, Vickie McDonough, Davalynn Spencer, and Michelle Ule.

Love Christmas stories? Love historical romance? Love predictable-but-oh-so-sweet romances? Want to give the screen a rest and cuddle up with a good book instead? I do recommend The 12 Brides of Christmas. I read one to two stories per day this past Christmas vacation.

The Festive Bride by Diana Lesire Brandmeyer
First sentence: Southern Illinois, 1886 Roy Gibbons stirred the pot of oatmeal while doing his best to ignore the state of his kitchen. “Papa, it shouldn’t look like that.” Eight-year-old Elisbet glared at him. “I can’t wait until our Christmas mama gets here.”

Premise/plot: Roy Gibbons is a widower who is looking for a marriage of convenience--his children have asked for a new mama for Christmas. Can he find them a mama by Christmas?!?! 

My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. I thought Alma and Roy made a great couple! I'd rate this one 5/5.

The Nutcracker Bride by Margaret Brownley
First sentence: Kansas, 1880 Thunderous hoofbeats broke the silence on that gray December day.

Premise/plot: Lucy finds herself caught in the middle of an ADVENTURE or a predicament. Take your pick! It involves outlaws, a Texas ranger, and an ailing father....

My thoughts: As much as I enjoyed the first story, I loved this one even more!!! The ending was so incredibly satisfying. Definitely 5/5.

The Christmas Star Bride by Amanda Cabot
First sentence: November 27, 1885 Cheyenne, Wyoming Territory There had to be a way. Esther Hathaway punched the dough with more force than normal.

Premise/plot: Esther wants her niece to have a super-super-super special gift for her Christmas wedding. For five generations, there have been star ornaments with painted miniatures of happy couples. But Esther will have to find a painter--and fast if she wants the tradition to continue. 

My thoughts: I take back what I've said before...this is my favorite...I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED  Esther and Jeremy!!!! 5/5

The Advent Bride by Mary Connealy
First sentence: Lone Tree, Nebraska Monday, November 29, 1875 Being a teacher was turning out to be a little like having the flu. Simon O’Keeffe. Her heart broke for him at the same time her stomach twisted with dread for herself. 

Premise/plot: A school teacher is TROUBLED by one of her students...if only she could find a way to engage his interest...but in doing so...she might just have caught the attention of the boy's father....will she find love for Christmas.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. But I honestly didn't love it as much as the earlier novellas in this collection. 3/5

The Christmas Tree Bride by Susan Page Davis
First sentence: Wyoming, 1867 Polly Winfield dashed about the dining room, setting up. On days the stage came through, she and her mother always prepared to serve a full table. The passengers would eat quickly, reboard the stagecoach, and hurry away toward the next station.

Premise/plot: Polly REALLY, REALLY, REALLY wants a Christmas tree for their western home--something to remind her of Christmases long, long ago. Will she get her tree and a love of her own this Christmas?

My thoughts: Compared to the other stories, I found this one a bit silly. Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed it enough to keep reading--I read at least one novella each night. But this one didn't wow me like some of the earlier stories. 3/5.

The Nativity Bride by Miralee Ferrell
First sentence: Goldendale, Washington September 1875 A pillow connected with Curt Warren’s backside, and he staggered but caught himself. “Where did you come from, Deb? I didn’t even see you there.” He raised his down-filled pillow above his head and ran across the Summers’ kitchen after sixteen-year-old Deborah Summers as her laughter filled the air.

Premise/plot: Curt and Deborah have loved each other forever....but their relationship faces obstacles and hardships...will these two ever say I do?!

My thoughts: I think this story did a great job with redemption. 4/5

The Evergreen Bride by Pam Hillman
First sentence: Sipsey Creek, Mississippi, December 1887 Samuel Frazier’s heart skittered into double time when Annabelle Denson rushed into the sawmill. She grabbed his arm, her touch sending a jolt of awareness coursing through him.

Premise/plot: Annabelle is dreaming of a white Christmas, a trip to Chicago to visit her cousin, Lucy, and maybe just maybe a little bit of love. But what she doesn't realize is that she doesn't need a trip to find her one true love...she just needs to open her eyes to what is right in front of her...

My thoughts: The narrator seems a little silly and immature. I find myself drawn more to the stories where the heroines are a little older and wiser...that being said...this wasn't a bad story...just a tiny bit silly. 3/5

The Gift-Wrapped Bride by Maureen Lang
First sentence: Chicago, Illinois November 1848 Boom! Snap! Pop, pop, pop! Sophie’s scream echoed the sudden whinny of horses startled by shots exploding on the busy Chicago street.

Premise/plot: Sophie thinks she knows everything about Noah Jackson...but what she doesn't account for is time, maturity, and God's grace. Will Sophie end up falling in love with the BULLY from yesteryear?!

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this one. 4/5

The Gingerbread Bride by Amy Lillard
First sentence: Ozark Mountains, Arkansas, 1870 “Madeline!” Maddie Sinclair winced at the sharpness in her sister’s tone.

Premise/plot: Maddie just knows that the love potion she bought from her neighbor has worked and the man she's been dreaming of is noticing her at last....too bad she feels too guilty to say yes to his proposal.

My thoughts: I HATED this story. I thought it was all kinds of stupid. I don't know if a character could get any more annoying than Maddie. 1/5

The Fruitcake Bride by Vickie McDonough
First sentence: Bakerstown, Missouri December 1890 Sitting on the edge of her seat, Karen Briggs wiped the dust off the train window with her handkerchief and searched the crowded depot for her fiancé. With a loud hiss, the train shuddered to a stop. She’d had the whole journey to ponder her decision to marry Clay Parsons. Had she made the right choice?

Premise/plot: Karen has come to marry her sweetheart, a pastor, but begins feeling overwhelmed by the expectations the town has for what a preacher's wife should be...will he convince her that she is the one?!

My thoughts: I liked this one! 3/5

The Snowbound Bride by Davalynn Spencer
First sentence: Spruce City, Colorado 1885 Arabella Taube clutched her small carpetbag as tightly as her breath and turned her back to the coach car. The man in the brown bowler had watched her all the way from Denver. He was watching her now through the window. She was certain of it.

Premise/plot: Arabella Taube is running away from her family...but her plans go awry when she becomes snowbound with a stranger and his family. Will this happy accident lead to a happily ever after?!

My thoughts: I liked this one. 3/5

The Yuletide Bride by Michelle Ule
First sentence: Fairhope, Nebraska, 1873 Ewan Murray’s fingers shook so much, he had trouble tightening the tuning nut on his fiddle. After four long months, the moment he’d dreamed of beckoned. Surely she wouldn’t be late to church.

Premise/plot: Ewan loves, loves, loves, loves Kate. But her family thinks he doesn't have enough money to support her. Can he earn $70 by Christmas to prove that he can?!

My thoughts: I liked this one. It was sweet but slightly silly. Both Ewan and Kate are musicians. And Kate learns to play or "play" the bagpipes in this one. I liked it. 3/5

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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