Friday, December 12, 2014

Book Review: A Door County Christmas, by Becky Melby, Rachael Phillips, Eileen Key, Cynthia Ruchti

A Door County Christmas
(Romancing America Series)
Becky Melby, Rachael Phillips, Eileen Key, Cynthia Ruchti
Barbour Books, Sept. 1, 2010
Anthology, Christian Fiction, Christmas Romance
Source: Purchased from

Book SynopsisPeer behind the closed doors of a Wisconsin tourist town gone dormant for the winter season. Watch as the drama and romance start to heat up—just as Lola the innkeeper promised her four single friends a year ago when she gifted them with her prayers and a Christmas cactus. Will each woman find love—along with cactus blooms—as promised?

The adjective "heartwarming" has been a bit overused, but it happens to be the best one to describe this wonderful Christmas-themed collection of novellas. Each story is guaranteed to give the reader those "feel good"  vibes typical of this joyous, magical, holy season.

All of the stories in this beautiful collection take place in an equally beautiful area of the United States -- Door County, in the state of Wisconsin. They are all subtly interrelated, as well, for they all have to do with a Christmas cactus that's supposed to bloom right around the time that love blooms for each of the four main female characters.

The first story, "The Heart's Harbor", by Cynthia Ruchti, introduces the reader to the quirky and lovable Lola and Harland Peterson, owners of the Heart Harbor Victorian Inn. Lola is also the organizer of a well-known annual event -- The Christmas Tea. This year, however, she is unable to host it, so she volunteers her niece, Amanda Brooks, for the job, much to the latter's dismay. Surprisingly, Jordan Peterson, who has just arrived, offers to help....and Amanda is the first one to receive a Christmas cactus from Lola. This is a sweet tale totally laced with romance and the holiday spirit!

In "Ride with Me into Christmas", by Rachael Phillips, recently-widowed Joanna Flick is the second woman to receive a cactus. Joanna doesn't have a green thumb, but her neighbor, Paul Sorensen, sure does. He has been curious about her ever since she moved in next door, but Joanna has simply been too depressed to want to do much socializing. Fortunately, a spider in her kitchen sends her screaming outside, and Paul kindly offers to get rid of it for her....This is a tender tale of two lonely people who have lost their spouses, and are tentatively reaching out for love again.

The third story, "My Heart Still Beats", by Eileen Key, is my favorite one in the collection, in spite of the cheesy-sounding title and somewhat predictable plot. That's because I'm a totally unabashed, sentimental, and hopeless romantic.... So I love sweet, mushy stories, and this is definitely one of them!  

The plot deals with a pair of delightful octogenarians, Vestal and Hilde Grissom, who have hired a young woman named Madison Tanner to be their chauffeur. Madison drives them back to their beloved house in the town of Ephraim, located in Door County, which their niece is determined to make them sell. There, Madison meets handsome, widowed realtor Grant Sterling and his sprightly ten-year-old daughter, Elizabeth. Maddy is the third cactus recipient, and the stage is well set for love....If you are a sentimental romantic like me, this one will definitely tug at your heart!

"Christmas Crazy", by Becky Melby, is a totally unique as well as funny story, concerning the unusual little disasters that befall a group of comedy actors in the town of Sister Bay. Here's another niece -- Jillian Galloway, whose uncle, Buster, is the proprietor of Doorbuster's Comedy Theater. Jillian is a copywriter for an advertising agency, but she's not happy at her job, and her uncle definitely needs her help at the theater. 

Enter handsome, Brazilian-born Enrique Jimenez (nicknamed "Ricky Jimmy" by one of the actors), a rather mysterious handyman who will collaborate with her at the theater....

Jillian, nicknamed "Jilly", has also received one of Lola's Christmas cacti, which she has promptly named "Jolly".

I really should read more Christian romance, especially at this time of year. Such stories are obviously tailor-made for this very special time of the year. They are sweet, tender, and full of the true meaning of Christmas. The ones in this book also weave some very appropriate Biblical verses into the plots, and that's a refreshing change of pace for me, since I have read far too many romance novels in which God, if mentioned at all, might very well be part of an expletive.

Those who relish Christian romance will surely love these gentle stories! They're cozy, beautiful, contain humorous moments, and focus on the celebration of the birth of Jesus over 2,000 years ago.... These are stories of true love -- not just the love between romantic partners, but also between parents and children, grandparents and grandchildren, and even between neighbors. Most importantly, they clearly portray the love and care of God for each of the characters. They are also festive, and the setting is perfect for a "White Christmas"!


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