Here are half a dozen novels that will put you in the Christmas spirit.
by Emily March
St. Martin’s Press, $7.99
Heartsong Cottage isn’t a traditional light holiday read built around Christmas. Nonetheless, it’s a story of hope and rebirth. Emily March deftly captures the heartache for those struggling yearlong with grief that almost becomes suffocating as the holidays approach.
Daniel Garrett was introduced in Miracle Road, when he rescued Hope Montgomery’s daughter from kidnappers. Daniel’s tragic backstory — his son was abducted and murdered and his wife later killed herself — haunts him 10 year after their deaths.
While attending a wedding in Eternity Springs, he meets Shannon O’Toole, who is running from her past as well. The attraction between them is immediate, but there’s more to it as Daniel realizes Shannon has brought the light back into his life.
Fans of the “Eternity Springs” series will get to reacquaint themselves with past characters, but the book is easy to follow for newcomers. Heartsong Cottage is a rewarding weekend read as March digs deep into her writer’s bag of tricks. There’s easy banter between characters, a strong sense of community and a dose of suspense.
The Christmas Angel
by Jane Maas
St. Martin’s Press, $10.99
Maas’ story of a Christmas angel who watches over Owen Thomas and his descendants is a quick and easy read. It begins on Llanelli, Wales, where Thomas works in a coal mine. He meets Jessica Lavery, an actress, and a bittersweet courtship begins. Thomas carves an angel for Lavery and asks her to marry him, but she refuses to give up the theater. A broken-hearted Thomas comes to America and finds love. The angel becomes a family heirloom and with each generation a love story centers around it.
This is a sweet book that can be read easily in a few hours. The made-for-TV version, Angel of Christmas, premieres on the Hallmark Channel at 7 p.m. Nov. 29.
Naughtier Than Nice
by Eric Jerome Dickey
Dickey presents a family with all of its triumphs and dysfunction as readers get acquainted with the McBroom Sisters — Frankie, Tommie and Livvy, who were introduced in Naughty or Nice. Lacking the happily ever after, the story is told from the sisters’ points of view. It’s a story of secrets, as none wants the others to know what’s really going on. The sisters are strong women who don’t need a man to complete them, but they still like having them around. Take note: This one is a bit steamy.
The Mistletoe Inn
by Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster, $19.99
Richard Paul Evans offers the second in his Mistletoe Collection. The Mistletoe Inn is a stand-alone rather than sequel to last year’s The Mistletoe Promise. This one falls in the easy-read category. Evans builds a predictable plot around Kimberly Rossi. Taken from the pages of her diary, the story is told in first person. Her dream of writing fiction gets a boost as her dying father sends her to a writing workshop in Vermont where her favorite author is part of the program. Instead she meets Zeke and makes some discoveries about herself.
Seeking the Star
by Traci Borum
Red Adept Publishing, $11.99
Texan Traci Borum writes a story of faith set in the Cotswolds village of Chilton Crosse. A stranger collapses on the doorstep of George and Mary Cartwright. The couple know Ben hasn’t been living life on the street, but they also recognize a shattered soul looking for answers. Ben’s past unfurls and his faith is restored as he becomes part of the village plans to hold a Dickens festival to mark Christmas.
by Jennifer Chiaverini
Jennifer Chiaverini weaves history and fiction together as she tells the story of Sophia, an elementary school music teacher, whose job is cut. Sophia is also directing a church program, Christmas Bells, to honor the poem written by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow — also the namesake of her school. Chiaverini moves between present day and 1860, as she reflects on the struggles and hopes of both eras.