I recently read The Christmas Bus by Melody Carlson. I have to admit that I love Christmas stories. This book wasn’t so much a romance novel as a cute Christmas story. The author’s style reminded me a lot of the Mitford Series, if you are familiar with those books.
The main character of the novel is the preacher’s wife in a small town of Christmas Valley that was built around a logging mill. When the mill shut down the town leaders decided to make the town a Christmas destination as a way to draw tourists to the town to keep it economically alive. After several years of everything focused on Christmas the members of the town have become a bit disenchanted with the entire Christmas season and solely focused on the consumerism side. Edith, the pastor’s wife and operator of a bed-and-breakfast, is facing her first Christmas without children present and decides to open up the Inn to guests for the first time. Edith imagines a perfect Christmas with perfect guests and ends up instead with a crazy old lady named Myrtle, a fighting couple, a single mother with daughter and a reclusive old man as guests. To top it all off, a tack 1970’s bus pulls up and the couple who live in it ask if they can park the bus in front of her Inn. Taking one look at the extremely pregnant wife, Edith agrees to let them park there until they can get the bus fixed. Pretty soon Edith is regretting all her Christmas decisions; the mayor doesn’t like the bus being parked where tourists can see it, Myrtle causes problems with everyone in the town, and Edith’s favorite Christmas angel figurine goes missing.
This story was a feel-good Christmas story. Some of the plot was pretty predictable but sometimes I need to be reminded of the real reasons for Christmas and what the Christmas spirit really is. I love reading Christmas stories before Christmas but I have learned, the hard way, that I have to double check copyright dates of Christmas stories because publishers have a tendency to re-release the same stories every year with new covers.
The book was a quick read and is available for free at Amazon.com for the Kindle and I recommend it.
I thought I would post about a free ebook available right now. Harlequin Publishing is celebrating it’s 60th Anniversary and, in honor of that, is giving away 16 books online. There is no sign up required, no fees, they are just giving the books away. If you have a Kindle, you can also find all the free ebooks in the Kindle store. The website to get the free ebooks is here. Crime Scene at Cardwell Ranch by B.J. Daniels is an interesting mystery. I felt bad and sympathetic for both main characters, good character development and believable plot line. I liked how there were so many possible suspects and it was hard to guess who did it but there were some clues, looking back. I have to admit I was disappointed that Jordan didn’t do it because he was just an obnoxious brother and I wanted him to be the bad guy (sorry for the spoiler but I couldn’t help myself). Reference to sex and some graphic kissing but not full on sex scene, so I give it a four rating.
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I thought I would start with one of my favorite books A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland. I usually don’t enjoy time travel books because I have a hard time believing they are real. (Yes, I know, I read romance novels but I struggle nonetheless.) One thing I really like about Kurland’s books is the fact that she doesn’t glamorize the time period. Modern Elizabeth finds herself transported back to medieval Scotland. Elizabeth is immediately put into a dungeon pit full of bugs and a woman is burned as a witch at one point in time because she displeased her laird.
Kurland’s wonderful description of the time period allows one to see what it must have been like, the good and the bad. This book is the first in series that is great and clean (except for Stardust of Yesterday and This is All I Ask is fairly descriptive of physical abuse main character experiences). Elizabeth is also almost raped in one scene and they describe lifting her skirt but nothing beyond that. There is some brief nudity (James sleeps in the nude) but it is done more in the keeping of the time period than anything else. There are some references to the couple having sex but no description of the act itself and they only have it after they are married.
I highly recommend all of Kurland’s books and eagerly await her next book.