Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Christmas, Romance, and Second Chances

One of the most common themes in romance novels is second chances – a hero or heroine having the opportunity to rekindle an old romance, rediscover an old love, find forgiveness, or having the opportunity to start a relationship over again. Setting the story during the Christmas season heightens both the conflict and its resolution. Christmas isn’t supposed to be about old hurts, anguish, and emotional pain. But in these stories of second chances, the resolution seems all the sweeter.

Of course, the Christmas story itself is a story about second chances. The law didn’t work as intended in terms of reconciling man to God. Something else had to happen; the story of God becoming man to reconcile humanity to himself is perhaps the archetypocal story of second chances.

One Christmas Eve by Robin Patchen
One Christmas Eve by Robin Patchen is a novella in which three of the main characters all find second chances. And it happens in less than a day.

Blake Carmichael is a film star, familiar from numerous popular action movies. He’s also a recovering drug addict, the drug in this case being cocaine. What pulled him out of addiction was a mentor, a fellow movie star, and becoming a Christian. He’s been drug-free for two years, and he’s moved from Hollywood to New Hampshire to be near his teenaged son, Eli.

Blake’s ex-wife and Eli’s mother has remarried, and Eli is staying with his dad during her honeymoon. Eli is hostile towards Blake; he’s heard the stories from his mother about drugs and extra-marital affairs and generally bad behavior by his father, most of which are believable but untrue. 

Blake waits until he believes Eli is asleep and goes to his room to pray for him. What he finds is pillows under the covers; Eli is gone. Blake desperately beings calling people and learns that Eli may be with his girlfriend Kelsey. Blake gets hold of Kelsey’s aunt, Tallie, and the two begin a late-night journey to Boston, where the two teens have likely gone for a concert. Tallie is in her early 30s, and she is certainly aware of the actor Blake Carmichael from church.

Will Blake and Eli be able to reconcile and communicate? Will Tallie be able to overcome the stories she’s heard about Blake? And will Eli forgive his father learn that his father truly loves him?

One Christmas Eve is a short, compelling story about three people giving themselves and each other second chances.

Savanna’s Gift by Camille Eide

Savanna Holt is driving her goddaughter to a mountain resort in Oregon, bringing the girl to her paternal grandparents while her mother cares for her dying father. The resort brings back memories; this is where she met the handsome ski instructor ski instructor Luke Nelson while she did summer work during college.

Luke had proposed and Savanna had accepted, until she returned to nursing school in the East and began to have second thoughts. She was career-minded, determined to escape the family life she had been brought up in. She had begun to consider Luke as having no more ambitions than to be a ski instructor. She had mailed the ring back with a written apology.

Except Luke is now the manager of the resort. And Savanna’s visit, meant to be an overnight stay only, becomes extended when a snowstorm blocks the only road out. And as Savanna soon learns, Luke is still angry over her rejection. For her part, Savanna knows she made a terrible mistake, but will Luke ever forgive her?

Savanna’s Gift by Camille Eide tells the story of Savanna, Luke, and a second chance.

Photograph by Nick Fewings via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Monday, December 30, 2019

Christmas, Romance, and Disappointment

Christmas is a season we associated with family get-togethers, special food, the giving of gifts, family members from all over sitting together in church, and children anticipation what will be under the tree on Christmas morning. We don’t usually connect the season with deep disappointment or betrayal, but writers certainly can, and do. 

It’s not accidental. Disappointment at Christmas seems to bring a special poignancy to a story. In romances, it’s usually about disappointment in love, relationships, engagements broken, or hopes unrealized. The usual expectations and warm feelings of Christmas bring a sharp contrast to a hero or heroine dealing with deep disappointment, hurt, regret, or depression.

Here’s how two different writers used the idea of disappointment to tell their stories.

The Christmas Baby Bundle by Barbara Lohr

The Christmas Baby Bundle, a novella by Barbara Lohr, is one of the author’s “Windy City” story series, set in contemporary Chicago. Connor Kirkpatrick is a city firefighter, and his wife Amanda is a schoolteacher. They’ve been desperately trying to have a baby for years, and the biological clock is running. They’ve finally turned to adoption, and through an open adoption process, are waiting for the birth of the baby who will become their new son.

But the stress has taken its toll on both Connor and Amanda. They’re arguing more. They’re less close to each other. Connor’s new extended work schedule isn’t helping, and Amanda’s anxieties about something going wrong with the adoption are sky-high. Connor’s large family is preparing a huge baby shower for them, and she hopes to somehow fight off developing flu. That this is all happening at Christmas heightens the story’s tension.

Lohr develops this short, compact novella along two primary lines and one minor line of tension and possible disappointment. Will the birth and adoption go as planned? Will the strains grow too great for Connor and Amanda? And will the “baby success” of the rest of the family make Amanda feel even more distraught?

The Christmas Baby Bundle is as much as a story about the anxieties we create ourselves because of our hopes and insecurities as it is about a childless couple. And it always seems worse at Christmas.

The Best Friend’s Billionaire Brother by Bree Livingston

The world of romance novels seems filled with billionaires these days. It may be that millionaires have become too ordinary, or that billions are now required when millions once sufficed. (I blame Silicon Valley and its tech billionaires.)

In The Best Friend’s Billionaire Brother by Bree Livingston, the billionaires in question are the West brothers, living near Amarillo, Texas, who regularly contribute to buying a lottery ticket as a way to stay in touch. Except, one day, their ticket wins an insanely high jackpot and turns them all into billionaires.

Gabby Fredericks has long been in love with one of the brothers, Wyatt West, a rodeo circuit rider who always seemed to consider Gabby his little sister’s best friend – and nothing more. He’d once proposed to a woman in front of the entire family, with Gabby standing nearby. Unable to deal with the heartbreak, she had transferred colleges and moved to Charleston, South Carolina. And now she’s coming home to be the maid of honor in her best friend’s wedding. She knows Wyatt will be there, but she’s convinced herself she’s completely over him.

That is, until she sees him when he picks her up at the airport.

Carrie Ann, the sister and bride-to-be, knows where Gabby’s heart is; she also knows Wyatt is completely clueless. So she devises a plan to bring Wyatt to his senses, a plan that, when executed, shows every sign of abysmal failure.

The disappointment here is primarily Gabby’s, and it’s what the story centers on. Livingston could have slipped into a story of self-obsession, but she balances it nicely with proving Wyatt’s perspective as well. And that’s how we learn that what Gabby believes and what the reality is are two very different things.

The Best Friend’s Billionaire Brother is part of the author’s Caprock Canyon series of stories.

Photograph by Jouwen Wang via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Sunday, December 29, 2019

Sounds in the well

After Romans 8:26-28

A well of darkness,
cold, the only company
a shaking, shivering.
The voice rises through
the stones, winds echoing
off each other before
vanishing in the darkness

The walls tremble, not
in anticipation but 
in the sounds reverberating,
an intercession unexpected
and undeserved, a groaning
so deep that it pounds
the ears, the hearing
realizing the meaning,

realizing that the intercession
is a gift, a provision of grace,
a provision planned and saved.

Photograph by Maria Krasnova via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Saturday Good Reads

“Lines Composed a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey” was written by William Wordsworth in 1798. Sometimes the title is shortened to “Tintern Abbey,” but the site never actually appears in the poem. The (unidentified) writer of the blog “A London Inheritance” takes a look at Tintern Abbey, using his or her father’s photographs from 1947 and then the writer’s photos from 2019. 

China, according to the Daily Mail, is planning to rewrite the Bible and the Quran amid the crackdown on the country’s Muslim Uighur minority. The reports coming out on the Chinese government’s treatment of the Uighur Muslims are horrifying, from internment in concentration camps and “re-education programs” to forced rape of Uighur women whose husbands have been imprisoned. Australian journalist James Morrow says “China is pretty much wokeness with guns now.”

In 2015, Slovak filmmaker Slavomir Zrebny released a 52-minute documentary entitled “Footprints in the Snow.” It tells the story of underground resistance to communism, especially by Christians, who often risked everything to smuggle Bibles. This month, Zrebny gave permission to Rod Dreher of The American Conservative to post the film, and you can watch it here.

Bradley Birzer at The Imaginative Conservative had two articles this week on C.S. Lewis, and both are well worth reading: C.S. Lewis’ “That Hideous Strength” and C.S. Lewis and His Critics.

More Good Reads

American Stuff

Coffee for Christmas – Sarah Kay Bierle at Emerging Civil War.

The idea of an American nation – James Piereson at New Criterion.

Writing and Literature

Resolutions Every Author Can Use – Sarah Bolme at Marketing Christian Books.

British Stuff

How a mediæval carol was saved from obscurity – Eleanor Parker at Catholic Herald.


The Courage to Say “Help” – Jennie Pollock at Think Theology.

Evangelical Elites Are Out of Touch – Carl Trueman at First Things Magazine.

Life and Culture

The Netflix decade: How one company changed the way we watch television – Helen Coster at Reuter's / National Post. 

Two Tolkienian Themes in Star Wars IX: The Rise of Skywalker – Zak Schmoll at Rebuilding Hollin.


Perspective and Pin Oak – Paul Gallagher at The Chained Muse.

How a Bill Can Succeed on The Hill – Mark F. Stone at Society of Classical Poets.

On the Feast of Stephen – Malcolm Guite.

Amazing Grace / Bagpipes / Czestochowa Pipes & Drums i Krolewska Symfoniczna


Photograph: Man reading on a staircase, by Craig Whitehead via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Friday, December 27, 2019


After Acts 4:23-31

Surrounded by evil
and destruction,
the people gathered 
together, seeking
the safety of oneness
and the safety of the rock,
as the nations gathered
around, raging, plotting,
assembling as a force,
a force for obliteration.

Surrounded, until

the voice rose together
a unity, a oneness,
together in assurance,
together in deliverance.

Photograph by Tim Marshall via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Christmas, Romance, and Food

Christmas celebrations are known for all kinds of foods – main courses, baked goods like pies and cakes, cookies (especially cookies), and more. It’s no surprise that food will often play a role in Christmas romance stories.

It may be food at big family gatherings. It may the food at Christmas dinners and lunches with work colleagues. It may the food featured at holiday time in cafes and restaurants. It may also be date meals for the hero and heroine.

In food romances and Christmas food romances, authors will also often include a recipe or two at the end, suggesting a real-world connection to a romance novel. Occasionally, the reader might be forgiven for suspecting that the story actually was inspired by the recipe. 

Here are two examples of Christmas romance novels that use food in very different ways (but both have a recipe at the end). 

The Christmas Cookie House by Jennifer Griffith

In The Christmas Cookie House by Jennifer Griffith, Leela Miller is a 20-somethig determined to keep her mother’s Christmas legacy alive. That legacy was largely based on work each Christmas on a fundraising event for the local ladies’ auxiliary – the Christmas Cookie House where thousands of homemade cookies are sold. The event is always held at the home of the auxiliary chairwoman, Una Mae Coldicott. Except this year, Una Mae plans to deep-six the event; she won’t have it at her home any longer and no one is stepping up to take charge. Leela does, even though she’s only a provisional member.

The ideal place to have the event would be the old Layton mansion, now owned by Jay Wilson, a newly minted veterinarian who is interested only in selling the mansion as fast as possible to get the funds needed to buy a veterinary partnership. Things between Jay and Leela seem to start off on a bad footing, when he discovers her trying to look into a back window of the house and instead falling into a bed of roses. Jay has to achieve one condition for the house in his uncle’s will – to sort through everything in the attic. It’s a lot to sort, and to speed access to the house for the cookie fundraiser, Leela volunteers to help.

We know where this is likely headed. But can the growing romance endure Jay’s desire to sell the house and move to another town? We’re not sure how this story will end, but Leela’s gingersnap cookies certainly won’t hurt (recipe at the end).

Keep Me at Christmas by Lucinda Whitney

Keep Me at Christmas is one of Lucinda Whitney’s novel series about the Romano family. Luciana Romano, partially to escape wedding activities for her cousins and comments about her own wed-less condition, agrees to be a last-minute substitute for a museum curation project in Hudson Springs, New York. She flies from her native Portugal to New York, to help the museum prepare for an exhibit of local 19th century textiles, and historical textiles in Luciana’s specialty. Arriving too early for her room to be ready at the local inn, she’s dropped off by the taxi driver at the Italian café and bakery operated by Jack DiLorenzo, his mother, and his grandmother. 

Two years after his fiancé broke off their engagement, on Christmas Day, no less, Jack is determined to date no one; the hurt was too great. And then Luciana walks into the café. Food becomes the initial bond; readers may gain weight simply by reading about all of the mouth-watering foods served by the café – paninis, traditional Italian dishes, desserts, and more, not to mention the hot chocolate drinks with real chocolate. (The recipe featured at the end, however, is one Jack makes for Luciana, and it’s the Portuguese dish of sweet rice, a kind of risotto pudding.)

Jack has to overcome his reluctance to take a risk on love; Luciana, no matter how strongly she’s attracted to Jack, knows that a long-distance relationship won’t likely work. She’s has only two weeks in Hudson Springs, until a snowstorm delays her return to Portugal.

Top photograph by Brooke Lark via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Wednesday, December 25, 2019

Christmas and the Regional Romance

Romance novels are generally anchored in a strong sense of place, and to call a romance novel “regional” is a bit redundant. The places are as varied as the people who write the stories. While many romance stories are set in big cities, it seems that most are set in small towns. There are reasons for that.

In many contemporary romance novels, especially in the romantic suspense genre, cities are often associated with danger. Witness protection programs aren’t usually created in other big cities. Instead, the threatened individual (almost always a woman and typically with a child or children) are relocated to a small town. 

Cities are also the scene of failures, and the hero or heroine returns to home in a small town, where he or she invariably find romance. Related to this is the sense of small towns and rural areas as the home of unchanging values, where people know each other and usually leave their doors unlocked.

In fact, romance stories are often as much about the romance of the small town or village as they are about the romance of people.

A more practical writing reason exists for the romance of the small town. These stories are often published in a continuing series, and the locale provides a sense of continuity for both the writer and the reader.

It was almost by accident that I discovered two Christmas romances set not only in small towns but also in areas I was more than familiar with – Louisiana and the part of Mississippi just north of the Gulf Coast. This is where I was born, grew up, and went to the beach. This was home.

Christmas Like This by Carina Taylor

Christmas Like This by Carina Taylor is part of the author’s “Love Like This” series of novels. It’s set in the fictional town of Lambert, Louisiana, “somewhere on the way to New Orleans.” If I had to visualize a town it was like or based on, I might say Lafayette, down in Cajun country. 

Marla and Trey are co-workers at a marketing firm, and they are like oil and water. They don’t get along. They play pranks on each other. They criticize each other in meetings and presentations. The tension they create in the workplace are almost unbearable for everyone else. So their boss gives them an assignment – planning the upcoming company Christmas party for employees, families, and clients, and do it together or face being fired.

What begins as almost open warfare begins to change, as Marla and Trey begin to learn more about each other. Christmas Like This is a fast, entertaining read. If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’ll recognize the tensions and animosities people like Marla and Trey can create.

Comfort Crossing Holiday Collection by Kay Correll

Comfort Crossing Holiday Collection by Kay Correll is set in the fictional town of the title, located “just north of the Mississippi Gulf Coast.” It includes two Christmas novellas.

In “The Christmas Cottage,” Holly Thompson is a veterinarian who wants nothing to do with Christmas after a personal tragedy the year before. A friend arranges for her to be a substitute vet in Comfort Crossing while the regular vet visits his family for Christmas. She stays at a cottage owned by the man next door, Steve Bergeron, who’s a home builder and has an eight-year-old son. Steve has his own relationship issues; his wife left him when their son was one because she wasn’t interested in being a mother.

To welcome his temporary renter, Steve and Josh have fixed up the cottage for Christmas, which is exactly what Holly doesn’t want. And Josh and then Steve keep inviting her to Christmas-related activities. Before long, Holly is enjoying Christmas again and Steve is falling in love. (Note: while this is billed as a “clean” romance, there’s a non-graphic overnight stay.)

In “The Christmas Scarf,” Missy Sherwood has returned to her home in Comfort Crossing, her dreams of being a country singing star dumped never realized. Her old boyfriend is happily married with a child, and her mother, while glad to see her, already has a full house for Christmas. 

Missy runs into Dylan Rivers, part of an old high school foursome who had dreams of singing careers. Dylan works for builder Steve Bergeron (see story above) and he’s thrilled to see Missy back. She was the girl he was in love with but said nothing while she dated his best friend. He quickly gets Missy involved in helping with the annual children’s Christmas pageant.

Missy discovers her feelings for Dylan moving rapidly, and Dylan has no doubts in his mind. And then Missy gets a call from Nashville – a big country star wants to hire her as a backup singer. It’s the break she’s been hoping for ever since she left Comfort Crossing. 

Both stories in the holiday collection suggest that it just might be possible to go home, or find home, again. 

Top photograph by Marisa Daeger via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Christmas, Romance, and Returning Home

A common feature of many romance novels is the idea of returning home. In some, it’s a prodigal son or daughter coming back to family. Others have a main character who’s become wildly successful – in Silicon Valley or Nashville, for example – but returning home for a family illness, a career crisis, or a personal issue, among other reasons. And “home” is usually a small town, with small-town values and where everyone knows everyone else.

And the idea of “returning home” is perfectly suited for Christmas, because millions of people in real life return home to family for the annual holiday.

A Christmas Homecoming by Melissa McClone

In A Christmas Homecoming by Melissa McClone (part of her Bar V5 Ranch series), Josiah Whitaker returns to his hometown of Marietta, Montana, but not voluntarily. The board of his highly successful Silicon Valley company has forced him to take leave for the month of December. Josiah had cut his hand on a zipline and developed a blood disease as a result, which had left him exhausted and somewhat frail. But his workaholism had driven him back to work before he should have gone. A fainting spell in his office forced the board the act.

Josiah, perhaps borrowing a characteristic from Ebenezer Scrooge, hates Christmas, because it disrupts work, and work is what life is about. His hometown also brings back memories of the death of his best friend Buck Smith, the teenager who befriended the then-geeky and friendless Josiah before dying of cancer. It turns out that Buck’s sister Ellie works at the ranch where Josiah will be staying. Ellie is still working through her own issues from her brother’s death, including a good head of resentment that her life and her parents’ lives revolved around her brother’s illness for years.

At first slowly and then quickly, two people are brought together by shared memories, their hometown, and the discovery that they may have more in common than they realized.

Love, Snow, and Mistletoe: Four Novellas

Love, Snow, and Mistletoe is a collection of four novellas by various authors that have to do with returning to hometowns, 

In “Her Fake Christmas Date” by Victorine Lieske, Jennifer is returning home for Christmas to stay with her mother, and she’s not looking forward to the visit at all. Her best friend growing up, and the “boy next door,” is Shane, who sees her struggling with her suitcase and helps her. She doesn’t at first recognize him; Shane had been kind of geeky and not one of the popular kids. But Shane has grown up too, and Jennifer is at first shocked that the geeky boy she remembers is the handsome, broad-shouldered man who helps her. For his part, Shane had always loved Jennifer, but he recalls the overheard conversation at school where she referred to him as “a nobody” because she wanted to be part of the poplar crowd. But then Jennifer needs a fake date to escape her mother’s matchmaking activities, and Shane agrees to do it.

“A Holiday Rescue” by Tamie Dearen involves Amy Pinkerton, a successful mystery writer who is spending Christmas week at a cabin in Wyoming to write the next book in her stated-based mystery series. She’s caught in a snowstorm, and rescued by Max, once a top country singer but living in seclusion with his daughter since the death of his from cancer. At first Max thinks Amy is one of those husband-chasing women who saw a recent story about him in a music magazine, but he soon learns she’s oblivious to his fame. Romance ensues.

In “A Second Chance for Romance,” Grace is a single mother who unintentionally moves into an apartment across from Sam, who once dearly loved Grace. She opted for the more glamorous boyfriend (a mistake), while he never married. He now owns a car repair shop, which Grace will shortly find herself in great need of. And both Grace and Sam will discover that second chances for romance do happen.

“The Billionaire’s Perfect Match” by Annie Houston is about a professional matchmaker, Aurelia James, media-famous for finding mates for wealthy people. On a plane home for Christmas, she encounters Lander Perry, an old friend from her childhood, who’s not familiar with her work or her fame. They discover their parents have been traveling together and are planning to share part of the holidays together as well. Aurelia and Lander will find themselves thrown together more than they might have expected, until Aurelia’s firm has a crisis involving hacked files. 

Love, Snow, and Mistletoe is four stories, four different authors, but each involving some idea of going home again. 

Top photograph via Freestocks and Unsplash. Used with permission.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Romance, Christmas, and Wishes

It’s Christmas, with New Year’s right behind, and it’s the time of year everyone seems to be writing and / or publishing romances. In late October, I posted “Four Christmas Romances,” short reviews about four romance novels or novellas with a Christmas theme. I followed that a week later, with “Four More Christmas Romances.”

I haven’t even made a dent in what’s out there. Search for “Christmas romance stories” on Google, and you quickly learn that no one talks about a Christmas romance story or novel, in the singular. Instead, people talk about these stories in great bunches, like “the top 25 Christmas romance stories” and “14 Christmas romance stories that will melt your heart.” 

And to be clear, we’re not talking about famous Christmas stories, like A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, which is not a romance but a ghost story. And Christmas romance doesn’t mean stories like “The Little Match Girl” by Hans Christian Anderson, or “A Christmas Dream” by Louisa May Alcott, which is a children’s version of A Christmas Carol. No, we’re talking about romances set at Christmas, and one of the early examples is “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry, first published in 1905. 

I haven’t exactly binged on Christmas romances, but that may depend upon your definition of “binge.” For the last two weeks, I’ve read a lot of them – novels, novellas, short novels, and short stories. I’ve discovered that, like every other book genre or sub-genre, there are Christmas romances that are well done and ones that – aren’t. I’ve learned that they tend to share a number of attributes. I’ve also learned there are sub-genres of sub-genres – Christmas stories that are Christian fiction, non-Christian but “clean” fiction, non-Christian but “steamy” fiction, stories that emphasize the religious meaning of the season and stories that see Christmas as a time of warm feelings about friends and family. 

For the next two weeks, I’ll be sharing short reviews of some of the stories I’ve read (sorry, I pitched the steamy ones) and some of what I’ve learned about this popular sub-genre of the popular romance genre.

First up: two novels that are about making a wish at Christmas. Wishes aren’t just for birthday cakes and candles; sometimes you have a wish list for Santa ot just simply a wish for Christmas, usually for some particular kind of gift. 

A Christmas Wish by Leanna Morgan

Leanna Morgan’s A Christmas Wish is the third entry in her Sapphire Bay series. Set in Montana (which must allow lakes to have bays), this novel begins as a sub-sub-genre – romantic Christmas suspense – before it changes to a more traditional Christian romance about halfway through. Megan Stevenson, 34, is a former teacher in Dallas, now operating a fantasy cake business in Milwaukee. She’s also caring for her niece, Nora; Megan’s parents and sister were killed in an automobile accident. 

Megan receives a visit from FBI Special Agent William Parker, who tells her that (a) she likely has a brother she never knew about, (b) she was adopted, and (c) a terrorist group is after her brother and his relatives, and they’ve been following her. Megan and Nora are taken by the FBI to a safe house in Sapphire Bay, Montana, with William providing most of the security. William has his own personal tragedy; his daughter died from injuries in a car crash and his wife blamed him so much for the child’s death that she divorced him. 

Five-year-old Nora provides a considerable amount of the glue that causes Megan and William to begin to stick. Megan also makes cakes and cookies to die for (with a recipe at the end of the story). Nora’s Christmas wish is for a daddy, and she’d like one just like William. But there are issues and problems.

His Christmas Wish by Melissa McClone

His Christmas Wish by Melissa McClone is set in Oregon near Mount Hood. Carly Bishop left the town six years earlier, following the accidental deaths of her fiancé and her brother in a fall while climbing. The accident happened two days before Christmas Eve – and two days before Carly’s Christmas Eve wedding. She’s returning home for the first time; her former sister-in-law has remarried and is expected a child at any time. 

Jake Porter, four years older than Carly, was her brother’s best friend; he was also part of the rescue crew that found the bodies of the two dead climbers. He’s had his own grief from his friend’s death to deal with, as well as longstanding feelings for Carly, feelings she never knew about. Circumstances force Jake and Carly together, when they have to care (and provide Christmas) for the sister-in-law’s children when she has the new baby. 

Will Carly get over her fear of climbing and what can happen to people she loves? Will Jake be able to bring his feelings for Carly into the open? McClone keeps the reader guessing to the very end.

Both of these novels fall into the “non-Christian but clean” category of Christmas romances. And one of the characteristics of this sub-genre is how long it takes for a kiss to occur. Occasionally, you'll feel like shouting "For Heaven's sake, kiss her already!"

Top photograph by Carlos Hinojosa Zuniga via Unsplash. Used with permission.

Sunday, December 22, 2019

the words went up

After Acts 4:23-31

The words went up,
a psalm, a song,
voices together
creating a current
moving through
and upward,
the words seeking 
protection, seeking
safety, seeking 
healing, seeking
boldness, seeking 
signs, seeking
the abolition of evil.

The words went up,
and the place was

Photograph by Pedro Lima via Unsplash. Used with permission.