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Publisher's Summary

When new lumberjack Tom Jeffries tells the camp cook, Jo Christy, that he’ll marry her if she can make a fruitcake “as good as the one my mother makes”, she rises to the occasion. After all, he’s the handsomest, smartest, and strongest axman her camp-boss father has ever had in his camp - and the cockiest. And she intends to bring this lumberjack down a notch or three by refusing his proposal. The fruitcake wars are on! All the shanty boys and Jo’s cooking helpers chip in with their recipes, but Jo finds she’ll have to enlist more help - and begins corresponding with Tom’s mother. 

Step back in time to 1890, in beautiful Northern Michigan, near the sapphire straits of Mackinac, when the white pines were “white gold” and lumber camps were a way of life. Jo is ready to find another life outside of the camps and plans that don’t include any shanty boys. But will a lumberjack keep her in the very place she’s sworn to leave?

©2014 Carrie Fancett Pagels (P)2020 Carrie Fancett Pagels

What listeners say about The Fruitcake Challenge

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

great story and narrator

Full of humor and charm, I'm sure anyone who enjoys historical romance will love this cozy romance!

2 people found this helpful

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Just in Time for the Christmas Season

I enjoy reading historical fiction and stumbled upon the Lumberjack Ball by Carrie Fancett Pagels several years ago. I have enjoyed several of her other books, mainly set in the late 1800's in Michigan. When the opportunity from the author to read The Fruitcake Challenge in audiobook format I jumped at the chance. Audiobooks are not a replacement for the written word for me, but an addition to print copies. The Fruitcake Challenge is the first book in the Christy Lumberjack Series. Imagine being a woman living in a camp full of lonely lumberjacks. Women are scarce and you are likely to be proposed to on a regular basis. Lucky for Jo, our heroine, she has two burly, protective brothers. No man would dare to bother Jo, until Tom Jeffries. Confident, good looking and full of himself, his first impression on Jo was anything but impressive. Until he issues his fruitcake challenge, that is. Still grieving at the recent loss of her mother, she is weary of the camp, the men and would love nothing better than her independence. I enjoyed the banter between Jo and Tom in the kitchen with the other cooks. I felt like I could have sat down on a bench and had a cup of coffee and fruitcake with everyone. This audiobook is narrated by Virginia Gray. She did a nice job on both women and men characters, not an easy task. I hope to listen to more books narrated by her in the future. Novellas are quick but shouldn't be overlooked. This one is entertaining, and with the fruitcake theme, it reminded me of my own mother making her grandmother's fruitcake every year for Christmas.

2 people found this helpful

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A Quick Christmas Read

I enjoyed this historical romance on audio. Loved the narrator and the story. Sometimes serious and sometimes a little funny but always good story. I have read many books by this author and she never disappoints. Jo doesn’t know exactly how she feels about this new lumberjack Tom because he seems so educated and using all these big words. But when he says he will marry whomever can bake a fruitcake like his mother she has a plan. I enjoyed the characters and how the author brought them to life. Don’t miss this quick Christmas read that I think you will enjoy if you like a historical romance. I received a free audiobook but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

1 person found this helpful

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Quick Listen Will Put You in the Holiday Spirit

A well-narrated audiobook can sweep me away from whatever task I’m doing as I’m listening, and The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels (narrated by Virginia Gray) was one such book. The unique setting of a Michigan lumber camp and the many characters who resided there—from Jo to her brothers to the other cooks and lumberjacks—kept the plot moving and entertaining. Jo and Tom may clash at first, but quickly grow to respect each other. Virginia Gray’s narration of both the male and female points of view is excellent, not detracting at all from the story. With baking, good will, and a spirit of giving, The Fruitcake Challenge is a quick afternoon listen (maybe while you’re doing some Christmas baking yourself). Disclosure statement: I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this audiobook and was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

1 person found this helpful

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Fun Listen!

I read this story years ago and was so happy to have the chance to listen to it now as an audio book! The narrator had a very pleasant voice and did a great job with this novella. She changed her tone of voice for various characters, yet it was not overdone. This was a fun story to listen to. Jo certainly had the tendency to jump to conclusions in this story. She caused herself so much worry and angst due to the things she assumed. Tom and Jo teased back and forth and there was some great banter between the two. A few open conversations between these characters would have meant that they could have realized how much they cared for each other earlier, yet there would have been much less of the spirited teasing that made the novella a lighthearted and fun choice for a Christmas story to enjoy. (4.5 stars) I received a complimentary copy of this audio book. All opinions are my own.

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The Fruitcake Challenge - sweet romance novella

What stood out to me from the beginning of the audiobook version of The Fruitcake Challenge by Carrie Fancett Pagels was the characterization that narrator Virginia Gray gave each character’s dialogue, even those with the smallest of roles. Then, as often happens when skilled narrations combine with well crafted stories, thoughts of the narrators skills gave way to sheer enjoyment of the fictional events unfolding. Set in the 1890’s, this novella opens with schoolteacher Tom Jeffries joining a family logging camp in order to better support his widowed mother. His courtship of the camp owner’s daughter and head camp cook, Jo Christy, is met with resistance and the fruitcake challenge he issues has more consequences than he anticipates. With sweet romance, grief, personal dilemmas, and a bit of danger, this is a lovely novella to listen to or read, no matter the time of year. The narration is well paced and a pleasant 3 hour 12 minute listen - best enjoyed with sugar cookies and hot chocolate on hand. This review refers to an audiobook I voluntarily received from the author. A positive review was not required and these are only my own honest opinions.

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A Cute Novella

This was a cute story. I didn't realize it was a novella at first. I thought the storyline was going fast for some reason. lol Tom shows up at a lumberjack camp looking for work. This is a man who should be a teacher, not a lumberjack, but he was doing what he needed to do. When he first glimpses Josephine, he's a goner and does everything he can to make his attentions known to her. Jo doesn't want to give Tom the time of day. Unfortunately, he proves himself relentless and she can't resist his attempts to get to know her better. When he suggests if she makes a fruitcatke that matches his mother's, he'll marry her, she decides she's up for the challenge. She's grown up around lumberjacks and doesn't want to live in the camp forever. If she were to marry a lumberjack, she'd never escape. Her brothers make things difficult for Tom to have time with Jo, but after the initial meeting it's more in a humorous way. At one point, Tom stops a bad guy with a punch, but when Jo finally sees the bad guy he's all beat up and she basically accuses Tom of being a violent man. Of course, the brothers had a hand in that. They have some miscommunication and question each other over certain events. There's also a bit of mystery involving Tom's mom. What's a novella if the characters don't have a bit of angst, right? *I received this book from JustReads Publicity Tour. This is my personal opinion.

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The search for the perfect fruitcake is on!

The Fruitcake Challenge Christy Lumber Camp #1 By Carrie Fancett Pagels Narrated by Virginia Gray Jo Christy has no desire to spend the rest of her days in her family's lumber camp, and she certainly has no intention of marrying a lumberjack. So when Tom Jefferies joins up with the camp, she is less than thrilled with his attentions. Tom Jefferies has left behind the life he has known for the lumber camps of Michigan. Working as a lumberjack pays better than his previous job as a teacher. It is hard work, but he needs the pay to help support his mother. He never expected to meet someone like Miss Josephine Christy working at the Christy Family Lumber Camp. Jo Christy seems determined to ignore all of Tom's flattery and attempts at courting. But when Tom issues his Fruitcake Challenge, she sees this as the perfect opportunity to put him in his place. But as the fruitcake challenge progresses, she has a chance to get to know Tom better - if only he wasn't a lumberjack. I experienced this book in the audio format, and it was well presented. The narration by Virginia Gray fits well with the story. I did listen to the book at 1.2 speed (or faster), but I always listen to my audiobooks faster than the default speed - I listen at the pace I read. But even at the regular speed, the pacing is good. If you want an enjoyable escape to 1890s Michigan's lumber camps, this is the perfect way to do so. This is a clean read. I highly recommend this book if you are a fan of Historical Fiction, are fascinated by America's logging past, or have a thing for fruitcake. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book with no expectations. All thoughts expressed are my own.

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A Inspiring Christmas Story

About the audiobook: Mackinac, Michigan in 1890..Josephine (Jo) Christy’s mother passed away and even though Jo was hoping to leave the lumber camp that her dad runs, she has taken over as head cook. Tom has come to work as an axman to make some much needed money for his family even though that’s not his normal occupation. Tom takes a fancy to Jo. He issues a camp wide statement that if someone can make a fruitcake as good as his mom’s then he will marry that person. Jo takes on this challenge thinking she will make the cake and then reject Tom. As Tom and Jo spend more time together and Jo gets support from many of the camp members, she decides she may actually want to win Tom’s heart through a fruitcake. My thoughts: This was a great Christian novella and a quick listen. First of all I have always wanted to visit the setting of this book so when I heard Mackinac my ears were on high alert. The details and atmosphere of how a lumber camp ran was something I knew nothing about until this book and I felt the details brought the camp to life. I learned from this listen that a lumber camp is like it’s own small town. At one point in the book, the camp school master gets outed for mistreating the students and Tom steps in as a hero in the situation. I thought that was not only a great story detail but one of the many subtle ways that the book shows Tom’s character. Multiple romances began from the fruitcake challenge and I thought that was a sweet aspect. My favorite characters were Jo’s twin brothers, Ox and Moose, and how they interact with their sister, each other and Tom. This was refreshing and uplifting listen and I will need to add other books by this author to my TBR and read the other books in this Christy Lumber Camp series.

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    3 out of 5 stars
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A great Christmas novella.

This a short Novella set in a lumberjack camp. It a short and sweet historical fiction story that involves the courtship of the camp cook, Jo to the newest lumberjack, Tom. I loved the “enemies” to lovers troupe. It definitely kept me wondering. I would have loved to seen this story developed more, but this was perfect for a novella. It isn’t necessarily a Christmas story and can be read all year long. Definitely a strong 3.5.