I loved Saving Grace, Michele Paige Holmes’s brand new release. It was a delightful book to read and one of those books where I was disappointed when the book ended because I enjoyed reading the story so much. While the setting seems typical of other regency romances, the plot was anything but trite and Holmes’s characters so genuine it was sometimes hard to see the plot play out.
The story begins with Grace traveling from between the homes of potential suitors that have bargained with her father to pay handsomely to marry her. Through inventive exploits, Grace manages to remain single despite being pawn to pay off her father’s gambling debts. But with an unfortunate accident, Grace and her trustworthy servants find themselves at Sutherland Hall and in a mess. Grace immediately sets another plan in action to free her from the exploits of marriageable men, only to discover that for once she has acted rashly and placed her happiness and the security of her siblings into the hands of strangers.
Michele Holmes has a gift for creating characters that are genuine, unaffected and so realistic they were easy to love, easy to hate, easy to criticize and easy to champion. In short, Grace, Nicholas, and Preston were so human and their troubles and triumphs so compelling and relatable despite mansions, money and titles. So the question remains, who really saves Grace? I highly recommend reading Saving Grace and discovering the answer for yourself.
As a recent fan of Jody Hedlund, I was excited to read her newest novella, Out of the Storm (Beacons of Hope). Although this novella’s plot was not quite as intense of some of her other historical novels, author Jody Hedlund still delivers a delightful tale of hope and loss, expectations and realities, and future possibilities.
The story begins in a storms and ends in a storm, but so much happens in between. Isabelle Thornton lives with her father who is light keeper of an isolated lighthouse on the Michigan coastline. As an only child, living with her widowed father, Isabelle has limited experience with strangers outside her tiny cottage. When her father rescues an injured man from a shipwreck, Isabelle finds herself confronting many new experiences, some terrifying and some exhilarating.
Hedlund does an incredible job of communicating Isabelle’s fear and insecurities to us in a raw, palpable way. As Isabelle struggles to deal with the fear that hovers over her future, she discovers much in the present that gives her hope for a different future than she planned for.
While the stranded Henry drastically changes life for Isabelle, I found his character less authentic than Isabelle’s character. Henry seems sincere in his behavior and promises to Isabelle, but I hoped for a more substantive evidence of his inner transformation to become a better person.
Regardless, I love how Hedlund transports us to the coast and into lives of keepers of lighthouses almost effortlessly with her inimitable talent for carefully choosing historical details that create such vivid and breathing plots.
A highly recommended holiday read.
If you are looking for a variety of short, delightful Christmas themed stories the Silver Bells Collection (A Timeless Romance Anthology) by Lucinda Brant, Sarah M. Eden, Heather B. Moore, Lu Ann Brobst Staheli, Annette Lyon, and Becca Wilhite are a great choice for a bit of Christmas reading romance to enjoy.
Each novella introduces us to captivating plots and unique characters. I enjoyed being introduced to gifted authors I haven’t read before. Each story is well written and brings a thoughtful, entertaining perspective to the Christmas holidays. I particularly enjoyed The Christmas Fairy by Lucinda Brant which introduced me to the Yule log tradition. Twelve Months by Heather Moore which was a touching story of new beginnings. All the authors shared a fresh perspective on Christmas and love using their own distinctive writing styles and creativity.