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5.0 out of 5 starsI would buy again!
Reviewed in the United States on October 19, 2021
This is such a well crafted gift for book readers with a heart for the Lord and His word. I can’t decide which part is my favorite! Thank you Karen, this book brought me such delight in such a troubling time for me. May the Lord continue to bless❤️
Reviewed in the United States on November 15, 2021
I loved this book! The retelling of the classic “A Christmas Carol” was so good. There is a bonus devotional and even a recipe. The other two novellas were released previously, but I enjoyed reading them again. It’s always good to visit with the Archers again!
Reviewed in the United States on September 4, 2021
I love novella story collections & Witemeyer is one of many favorite authors. To have three stories in one book by her is like getting an early Christmas present! You'll also find some bonus material which includes a couple of her favorite recipes, fun facts about nineteenth-century Christmas celebrations and a hope-filled Christmas devotion. So without further ado, here's my review on each novella:
A Texas Christmas Carol
I loved this fun take on one of my favorite Christmas movies “A Christmas Carol”! Instead of Ebenezer, our hero is a Scrooge-like bachelor named Evan Beazer & our heroine is Felicity Wiggins. She decides to take on the mission of enlisting Evan's monetary & physical help to distribute Christmas baskets & bring him Christmas cheer (in spite of his grumpiness). It's fun to watch her break down the walls he's built & touch his hidden tender heart! Witemeyer references the biblical story of the persistent widow when it comes to the tenacity Felicity shows. It also has a deeper meaning to the story that I think readers will enjoy, the real reason behind Christmas. The epilogue was my favorite & very heartwarming. I found this to be a tender love story & a fun take on a favorite Christmas tale.
An Archer Family Christmas
I've read every one of the Archer brother stories, so to see them all come together for a Christmas celebration was purely delightful! Watching the children's excitement along with the adults definitely got me in an early Christmas mood. There's a bit of danger to add a little spice to this story, but I love how Jim Archer plays the hero to save his wife. The ending was sweet & brought some tears to my eyes. If you've read the Archer brother's (if not, you should!), you'll love this extra addition!
Gift of the Heart
Since my favorite Biblical story is Ruth and Naomi, this held a special place in my heart. I really enjoyed the nod to scripture. Widow Ruth Fulbright & her daughter Naomi relocate to Hope Springs, Texas two years after her husband’s death. Taking the job as a cook at the Homespun Cafe, she hopes to start a better life for her and her daughter. In the meantime, she meets her landlord, Beaurgard Azlin—or Bo for short. Thus begins their happily-ever-after story, and while this may sound too perfect, it has a few rocky places they both must navigate. Ruth is good for Bo in boosting his self-confidence and in return, Bo is good for Ruth in resurrecting feelings she thought buried with her husband. Naomi is the glue that binds them together! I love her spunky spirit, her childlike view of the world and her compassion for one stray cat lovingly nicknamed Teddy. Talking about the tabby, he contributes his own quirkiness and personality to the mix. A mish-mash family whose love story is hard earned and has a satisfying end. Witemeyer inserts her trademark humor that had me laughing out loud in quite a few spots & her characters are ones I would have enjoyed meeting. Too bad it's not real because I could make a life in Hope Springs myself! A delightful story with a Biblical twist.
* I received a complimentary copy from Bethany House on behalf of the author and was not obligated to leave a favorable review. All opinions are my own. *
5.0 out of 5 starsChristmas Comes Early with Under The Texas Mistletoe
Reviewed in the United States on August 31, 2021
Four months before Christmas, beloved author Karen Witemeyer gives her readers' an early Christmas gift with Under the Texas Mistletoe: A Trio of Christmas Historical Romance Novellas.
I make no secret of the fact that I'm an ardent fan of Ms. Witemeyer's books. Last month, I had the honor and privilege to meet Karen in person at the Mississippi River Readers Retreat. What a thrill and delight for me as a reader! Meeting Karen only deepened my appreciate and admiration for her. Her kind and gracious manner put me at ease straight away and made me feel as if I'd known her my entire life. Karen, meeting you will forever be a memory I hold dear in my heart. Thank you.
A Texas Christmas Carol is the first novella that begins this collection. Ms. Witemeyer gives subtle nods throughout to Dicken's Christmas Carol with a Texas twist.
Felicity Wiggins persistent determination to have Evan Beazer donate either money or time to the Christmas Basket Committee for needy families soon wins him over despite his best efforts. Evan soon finds himself seeing Felicity in a new light as he realizes that "Family was her lifeblood." (Witemeyer, 43) and she "was a woman worth waiting for." (Witemeyer, 41).
One aspect of Ms. Witemeyer's writing that I appreciate are the gospel message and the nuggets of truth she manages to seamlessly sprinkle in all her stories. An example, I think of Felicity's explanation of Christmas when talking to Evan. "The Spirit of Christmas is about touching lives and letting them touch you in return. That's why Jesus left heaven, why he confined his infinite being into a finite flesh. To give us the best gift ever given-his presence. Immanuel. God with us...To leave your wallet behind and give what comes from the heart." (Witemeyer, 23).
How Ms. Witemeyer wove together both the gospel elements and the nods to the iconic Christmas Carol was so cleverly & beautifully entwined together to make a delightful and heartfelt read that you just did not want to put down. I might have lost a lot of sleep trying to finish this in one sitting because I just did not want to close the book. It will leave you contemplating the meaning of Christmas in the best way possible. The next novella included is An Archer Family Christmas! (Previously only available as a digital download.) Who are the Archers? Well I'm glad you asked. After you finish A Texas Christmas Carol, but before you start this 2nd novella you'll want to acquaint yourself with the Archers through Short-Straw Bride, Stealing the Preacher and A Cowboy Unmatched. (Note: If you prefer a print version of stories you can find A Cowboy Unmatched in the A Match Made in Texas collection).
I'd recommend running to the nearest bookstore or library to find these books. I'm only teasing about reading 3 novels before this novella. Although, I do highly recommend all of these books. You will not be disappointed. Because I've read all the books about the Archer clan this Christmas novella felt like coming home and being reunited with old friends you hadn't seen in a while. All of the Archer men and their wives' and children have reunited at the homestead of their youth to spend Christmas together. A plea for help puts Cassie Archer unexpectedly in the crosshairs of a dangerous man and it will take all of the Archers banning together to save Cassie. Will their Christmas end in disaster? This novella further completed/rounded out the Archer clan to this reader's satisfaction. Slight Spoiler Alert: I appreciated what I felt was a full circle moment. It was interesting to me how the Archer men were wary of any and all outsiders with the motto "Archer's protect their own" to now see the men are husbands and fathers however the same creed is even more ingrained in them because of their families.
If Ms. Witemeyer even needs any more story ideas I'd be interested in re-visiting the Archers and their brood. Perhaps she could do a series with the Archer children/cousins.
A Gift of the Heart rounds out this compilation of sweet and delightful Christmas-themed novellas. This novella was previously published in A Christmas Heirloom and I already did an in-depth review about it here.
Under the Texas Mistletoe is a joy and delight from beginning to end and not to be missed. I will want to be re-reading it again before Christmas for years to come.
~~ Under the Texas Mistletoe was provided to me by the author and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of the book. All opinions expressed are my own, I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own.~~