Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe – Celebrate Lit

About the Book

Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe cover

Title: Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe

Author: Carla Laureano

Genre: Christian Romance

Release date: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Tyndale

Baker and pastry chef Melody Johansson has always believed in finding the positive in every situation, but seven years after she moved to Denver, she can’t deny that she’s stuck in a rut. One relationship after another has ended in disaster, and her classical French training is being wasted on her night job in a mediocre chain bakery. Then the charming and handsome private pilot Justin Keller lands on the doorstep of her workplace in a snowstorm, and Melody feels like it’s a sign that her luck is finally turning around.

Justin is intrigued by the lively bohemian baker, but the last thing he’s looking for is a relationship. His own romantic failures have proven that the demands of his job are incompatible with meaningful connections, and he’s already pledged his life savings to a new business venture across the country—an island air charter in Florida with his sister and brother-in-law.

Against their better judgment, Melody and Justin find themselves drawn together by their unconventional career choices and shared love of adventure. But when an unexpected windfall provides Melody with the chance to open her dream bakery-café in Denver with her best friend, chef Rachel Bishop, she’s faced with an impossible choice: stay and put down roots with the people and place she’s come to call home . . . or give it all up for the man she loves.

My Review

I was pretty excited to start Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe. Somehow, I hadn’t yet read Saturday Night Supper Club and was in desperate need of a Carla book. I’m happy to report that you can read this novel as a stand alone, but fair warning, if you haven’t read the first in the series, you’ll want to start it as soon as you finish Bittersweet.

What first intrigued me was the idea of a bittersweet cafe. I wondered what was bittersweet about the cafe, knowing it was about a baker, but also knowing that Carla wouldn’t play off of something as obvious as bittersweet chocolate. Clearly, I’m not a writer. As the story unfolded I thought that it fit the title perfectly at times sweet, at times bitter, at times both.

I had a hard time putting this book down, wanting to turn the pages as I watched Melody and Justin grow as individuals while trying to figure out their relationship. Both are torn and struggle with who they want to be. They flounder, as humans do, but eventually find their way to each other in a satisfying ending that will leave you with a contented sigh.

I struggled a bit with Rachel’s role as best friend in this story and there were several times that I wasn’t sure I liked her. But, I also remembered how my bestie didn’t like my hubs very much at the beginning (and I hadn’t liked her beaus either), because she loved me and didn’t want to see me hurt. With that perspective I understood more where Rachel is coming from and in the end, she grows as well.

In the end, Brunch at Bittersweet Cafe left me craving chocolate croissants and the next book in the series.

I received a copy of this story but was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.

About the Author

Carla Laureano

Carla Laureano is the RITA® Award-winning author of contemporary inspirational romance and Celtic fantasy (as C.E. Laureano). A graduate of Pepperdine University, she worked as a sales and marketing executive for nearly a decade before leaving corporate life behind to write fiction full-time. She currently lives in Denver with her husband and two sons, where she writes during the day and cooks things at night.

Guest Post from Carla

“Confessions of An Erstwhile Baker”

Like most females, baking is encoded somewhere deep down in my DNA. Call it nature or call it nurture, but at the earliest age, I figured out that the cute boy in my English class would talk to me if it involved chocolate chip cookies. Got my heart broken or had a friend betray me? I grabbed the mixing bowl and went for the brownies (even better if they’re served à la mode.) My friend was having a birthday? I made a cake drowned in pounds of buttercream.

I quickly graduated from the boxed mixes to the real thing when I got married and had a kitchen large enough to roll out dough. I would comb magazines for the best recipes and spend my weekends trying them out. I quickly became known for bringing beautifully iced Christmas cookies and delicious homemade cakes to work.

Then my husband and I moved our young family from Los Angeles to Denver, a relocation that was about 1000 miles northeast and 5000 feet up. Suddenly, every recipe I’d perfected in the previous eight years failed. Cookies burned to crisps, cakes fell, and don’t get me started on candy making. Gradually, I adapted my recipes (my beloved never-fail Toll House recipe took eight tries to get right) and even became an avid artisan bread-baker.

Then disaster. Or at least, what a baker would consider a disaster. After developing chronic health problems, I discovered that among other things, I was sensitive to gluten. The horror! In order to heal, I turned to the paleo diet, which eliminates all grains (there goes most gluten free recipes) and all processed sugars (there goes everything else). I’ve tried baking paleo-style, and while I can now make cakes that even my gluten-fiend family enjoy, it’s just not the same.

So what’s a once-obsessive baker do when she can’t eat her creations? She bakes for other people and goes on faith that they actually taste good… considering she can’t taste them herself.

It struck me that there was a spiritual lesson in that, and an obvious tie to Brunch at Bittersweet Café, which deals in large part with Melody’s faith journey. There are times when we have no idea if things are working out the way they’re supposed to, in which case we just have to trust the “recipe” and the input of friends and family who love us. Sometimes our instincts tell us when we’re off track, and sometimes we need that outside nudge from our “taste-testers” to put us back on course.

In any case, what Melody and I have in common is that we both bake to show our love for the people around us. And the process of baking my favorites, even knowing that I can’t enjoy them myself, can still be a selfless way to show people they’re important to me.

Fortunately, macarons, which happen to be made with almond flour, are still on the menu.

Blog Stops

Quiet Quilter, February 12

Among the Reads, February 12

Lighthouse Academy, February 12

By The Book, February 12

The Power of Words, February 13

As He Leads is Joy, February 13

Cultivating Us, February 13

Blossoms and Blessings, February 13

Fiction Aficionado, February 14

The Lit Addict, February 14

Christian Chick’s Thoughts, February 14

This Chattanooga Mommy Saves, February 14

All-of-a-kind Mom, February 15

Just the Write Escape, February 15

100 Pages per Hour, February 15

Splashes of Joy, February 15

Bibliophile Reviews, February 16

Texas Book-aholic, February 16

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, February 16

C Jane Read, February 17

Abba’s Prayer Warrior Princess, February 17

Moments, February 17

Back Porch Reads, February 17

Cordially Barbara, February 18

Genesis 5020, February 18

Simple Harvest Reads, February 18 (Guest post from Mindy Houng)

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, February 18

Livin’ Lit, February 19

Kat’s Corner Books, February 19

Life with the Tribe, February 19

Stephanie’s Life of Determination, February 19

Through the Fire Blogs, February 20

Remembrancy, February 20

Vicky Sluiter, February 20

Living Life Free in Christ, February 20

2014 and Beyond!, February 21

Daysong Reflections, February 21

Inklings and Notions, February 21

Pause for Tales, February 21

Cafinated Reads, February 22

Tell Tale Book Reviews, February 22

two points of interest, February 22

Ashley’s Bookshelf, February 22

My Devotional Thoughts, February 23

Two Girls and a Book, February 23

The Christian Fiction Girl, February 23

For the love of books, February 23

God is Love, February 24

Book by Book, February 24

Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses, February 24

Janices book reviews, February 24

Lukewarm Tea, February 25

Carpe Diem, February 25

A Baker’s Perspective, February 25

Bigreadersite, February 25

Giveaway

brunch at bittersweet cafe giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Carla is giving away a grand prize package of a macaron baking mat, a macaron book, and a paperback copy of Brunch at Bittersweet Café!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/db0f/brunch-at-bittersweet-cafe-celebration-tour-giveaway

Top Ten Tuesday – Favorite Couples in Books with Two Word Titles

toptentuesday

Another Top Ten Tuesday, hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl

Today’s Top Ten is Favorite Couples in books, which, to me, seems an impossible task. In order to narrow it down, I picked out titles with only two words, that I own (i.e. no library books or borrowed from friends), and without repeating authors (because a few of these I’d pick the whole series, and that’s more than ten).

In no particular order:

  1. Finders Keepers – Sarah Monzon
  2. The Lace Maker – Laura Frantz
  3. Canteen dreams -Cara Putman
  4. Still life – Dani Pettrey
  5. The Proposal – Becky Wade
  6. Leaving Oxford – Janet Ferguson
  7. Mojave Rescue – Tanya Stowe
  8. Operation Mistletoe – Elizabeth Maddrey
  9. Enchanting Nicholette – Dawn Crandall
  10. Moving Target – Lynette Eason

What your your top ten? Don’t forget to join in on the fun on the other blogs.

Anticipated 2019 Reads

I want to know – who has ever cleaned out their TBR pile all the way to the bottom? Not me! And, it’s steadily growing larger as we kick off 2019. Goodreads has a running list of “Most Anticipated Inspirational Novels of 2019,” which currently has 82 entries. I encourage you to browse through the list and add some new titles to your pile.

Here are my most anticipated inspirational reads. I know that more will be added as some authors haven’t listed their to be published for this year. What are your most anticipated reads?

P.S. Reviewing my post it occurred to me that all but two of these (Ever After and Wooing Cadie) are by Bethany House. I’ve come to expect great stories from them, but there are other great publishing houses and indie authors too. I’d like to know what others you love.

Series Review – Family Blessings

The Dad Next Door

Lawman Joe Sheehan is desperate to bond with the daughter he’s just discovered he has. But as a virtual stranger to twelve-year-old Amelia, the task seems impossible. Until Claire Conley moves to town. A social worker renovating a mansion into a foster home, Claire is the first person to get through to Amelia. Falling for the single dad was not on Claire’s to-do list. But with Joe and Amelia around, the house finally starts to feel like home. Claire’s ready to fight to convince Joe that together they’ve done more than fix a house…they’ve built a family.

A Baby for the Doctor

After becoming a foster parent to a young boy, equine therapist Jordan Conley’s life gets turned upside down. Little Levi is in need of an exceptional pediatrician, which means seeking help from Dr. Ash Sheehan—a man that, despite her heart-pounding crush, isn’t her type. Her life is horses and hay, and she can’t imagine the suit-clad doctor in a pair of cowboy boots. As a confirmed bachelor, Ash has never been nervous around women, but there’s something about Jordan that flusters him, and working closely together doesn’t help. The last thing he’s looking for is long-term romance. But the more involved he gets, the more he wishes they could stay together…always.

Their Secret Baby Bond

He wanted roots. She chose career. Can a baby bring them back together? Wynn Sheehan planned to change the world—not return to Alabama alone and pregnant. Her life is in shambles, but at least she can help take care of Latham Grant’s ailing grandpa. Latham isn’t ready to trust the woman who eagerly left him and their small town behind. But can they ignore the spark rekindled by unexpected Family Blessings?

The Marriage Bargain

Family Blessings lead to new beginnings. Jules Sheehan will do anything to keep custody of the two orphaned girls in her care—including a marriage of convenience with their uncle. Cam Quinn crosses the globe as a travel writer, but he’s ready to settle down. Now tough, tender Jules is offering the home he’s secretly longed for. Can this marriage in name only become a family of the heart?

My Review

This series by Stephanie Dees focuses a family that has a big heart and passion for loving foster kids who need a home and a Savior.

The Dad Next Door: I read this book after reading book 2 in the series, so I had already connect with Joe, Claire, and Amelia, but I enjoyed reading about their start as a family. I admire Joe for the way he stepped right into fatherhood, even with some bumbling and learning, he was immediately steadfast and gave it his whole heart. At the end he paints a picture for their future that melted my heart. I promptly sighed and read it to hubs. A foster brood sounds about perfect to us too.

As a former foster mom, I admired the passion that Claire poured into renovating the house with the intention to foster a bunch of kids who needed love and God’s care, despite the hurdles that pop up. Having read the rest of the series, I know we get to see Claire more, and this aspect come out more and more.

A Baby for the Doctor: I LOVED THIS BOOK – by page 2. I connected with Jordan right away. As a former foster mom, I knew just what she was feeling throughout the book: the joy, the heartbreak, the face on the floor prayers. Ms. Dee did a fantastic job bringing the realities of foster parenting while also giving it the positive perspective that often lacks in fiction.

Ash was swoony and steadfast. His heart for kids will make you melt and smile. While I don’t live with diabetes, I do have a chronic illness, so I also connected with Ash, who was in a good place dealing with day in and out of life with a chronic disease while not letting it get the best of him. I appreciated that Ms. Dees also showed the side of him that got fed up, because we all have those days as well, but he didn’t let drag him down.

Their Secret Baby Bond: I already like Latham having read the first two books in the series and was hoping he’d get an HEA! I also knew something was up with Wynn when I met her in the 2nd book. I enjoyed this story about lost and returned loves, broken hearts and dreams, and God’s restoration. Ms. Dees approached a topic that isn’t often told from a faith perspective – that of an out of marriage pregnancy, but she uses the Sheehans and their community to show Wynn that God has not turned his back on her for her choices and that he can bring beautiful things out of them.

Latham shows us how we may have dreams, but when life happens it’s not an abandonment of those dreams, but a changing. He really made me think as I have dreams that haven’t gone as I imagined, but this story reminded me that God can still use those, just in an unexpected way.

The Marriage Bargain: Marriages of convenience are one of my favorite premises, but pulling them off in a contemporary setting can be difficult. I think Ms. Dees did a good job of a plausible story line giving the reasoning and feelings of both the hero and heroine and why they decided to dive in. While I may think it a bit far fetched having experience with the custody courts, if I was in the same position as Jules, I can’t say that I wouldn’t come up with a similar hare brained idea. I’ve also seen the courts make decisions opposite of what you think is best for the kids, but that’s where trusting God’s plan critical. Jules, like all of us do at some point, leaps forward to take the situation into her own hands.

What helped make this marriage of convenience more realistic for me is that there was an instant attraction. While relationships shouldn’t be based all on the physical, you can’t deny that love at first sight exists – it’s just a different type of love. A deeper long lasting love based on friendship has to grow with time and for Jules and Cam this love is show through a slow tantalizing burn.

We also get to visit with all the other characters from the series, which I loved, without feeling like you missed backstory. A satisfying ending to a series.

I received the series from the author but was not required to write a postive review.

Loving Her Texas Protector

UPDATE 1-10-19: Guys!!!!!!!!!!!! I forgot to tell you about ALL THE KISSES!!!!! You know how I like kissing books. (Insert love and kissy emojies here.) Now back to the original post:

loving her texas protector

Title: Loving Her Texas Protector
Series: Garrison’s Law, Book 2
Author: Mary Connealy
Release Date: July 13, 2018
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Jacie Moreau is a tough as nails security specialist who works with the Long Pine Texas police. She takes care of herself and doesn’t ask for help from anyone. Brett Garrison is an odd man out in the Garrison family. He’s a soft hearted veterinarian from a family of daring Texas lawmen. Jacie runs afoul of a hired killer and no one is there to step between her and danger but Brett.

Brett’s good hearted plan to care for the most beautiful woman he’s ever seen draw an assassin’s attention. Jacie never needs help, but Brett’s kindness when she is so vulnerable sneaks past all  the emotional walls she’s built around her heart. The killer keeps coming and their only hope is to run. And as they run they try and figure out who’s hired a killer, and why, and how to stop him.

If they hide well enough and live long enough, they might make it to the day they can fall in love.

PURCHASE LINKS: Goodreads | Amazon


MY REVIEW

I’m used to Mary’s historical fiction books and love all the ones featuring Texas lawmen, so when the opportunity to review her contemporary series came up, I thought, sure! Handsome Texas lawmen are just as fun to read about in a contemporary setting and I enjoyed how Mary took her classic hero story and brought into today. Now I can daydream about my own Texas lawman, you know, if I was single and didn’t have my own dreamy man.

I’m used to Mary’s historical fiction books and love all the ones featuring Texas lawmen, so when the opportunity to review her contemporary series came up, I thought, sure! Handsome Texas lawmen are just as fun to read about in a contemporary setting and I enjoyed how Mary took her classic hero story and brought into today. Now I can daydream about my own Texas protector, you know, if I was single and didn’t have my own dreamy man. 

This story keeps you on the edge of your seat from the very beginning. While at first I felt the writing was a bit choppy, it smoothed out and faded as I quickly became lost in the fast paced fictional world running from a mad man. Jacie’s quick wit and sarcastic nature was a bit overwhelming, but it gave her a lot of room to develop into a “nice” person, and Mary takes full advantage of her character development potential. Brett reminds me of my hubs with his patience in the face of a fiery woman, smirking and provoking her with a twinkle in his eye, but loving her diligently.

If you enjoy suspense and strong female characters, this is definitely your read!

I was provided a copy of this novel for the purposes of this tour. All opinions are my own.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

mary connealy new

Mary Connealy writes romantic comedy with cowboys always with a strong suspense thread. She is a two time Carol Award winner, and a Rita, Christy and Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist. She is the bestselling author of over 50 books and novellas.

Her most recent book series are: Garrison’s Law, High Sierra Sweethearts, Cimarron Legacy, Wild at Heart, Trouble in Texas, and Kincaid Bride for Bethany House Publishing. She’s also written four other series for Barbour Publishing and many novellas.

Mary has nearly a million books in print.

CONNECT WITH MARY: website | Facebook | Twitter | Seekerville | Petticoats & Pistols


garrison's law giveaway

TOUR GIVEAWAY

(1) winner will receive:

  • a $25 Amazon gift card (open internationally)

Enter via the Rafflecopter giveaway below. A new entry option will be live each day for that day’s clues. Giveaway begins at midnight on January 8, 2019 and lasts through 11:59pm January 15, 2018. Void where prohibited by law. Winners will be notified within a week of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen.

Giveaway is subject to the policies found here.

ENTER HERE

 Be sure to stop on everystop on the Tour Schedule for all the clues to enter!


WORDS TO COLLECT: alpha Texas

Book Boyfriends 2018

Here’s a roundup of swoony heroes from my 2018 reads! In no particular order:

The Sheehan Brothers Stephanie Dees

The Sheehan brothers slid in in the last week 2018 and right into my heart. There is something about a man and his interactions with kids that make me swoon every time and Joe and Ash are great dads – even before they’re dads.

Jonathon Beckett – A Peculiar Courtship – Laura Beers

I love Jonathon while also wanting to inform him about women’s independence, but his boyish ways contrasting with his protectiveness win me over.

Barclay Pearce – An Hour Unspent – Roseanna White

Barclay. Swoon. I love him.


Noble Rynallt – The Lacemaker – Laura Frantz


Noble lives up to his namesake in this revolutionary tale.


Trace Riley – The Accidental Guardian – Mary Connealy

I relate to Trace’s desire to want to be alone, but I help but love him for the way he took on his three girls.

Graham, Lord Wharton – A Defense of Honor – Kristi Ann Hunter

I have to respect, admire, and swoon over Graham’s steadfastness. No floor is too hard, no sticky fingers too daunting. He pushes Kit to be a better version of herself while also giving her room to grow.

Cole “Tox” Russell – Warrior’s Seal – Ronie Kendig

Tox is your classic wounded hero. What I like about this series is that we get to see Tox develop beyond the initial romantic relationship onto a husband and father.

Adam Carrington – Freedom’s Kiss – Sarah Monzon

You can’t help but love a Carrington man. Plus, they’re hot.

Rudy Moser – Love in Three Quarter Time – Rachel McMillan

I love Rudy because he is such a different hero for a romance. This story is told from Evelyn’s perspective, but I would really love to hear it from Rudy’s!


Henry Wright – When You Look at Me – Pepper Basham

Because Henry is Mr. Wright after all (hardy, har, har). I also love Henry because he’s different than your typical hero. And his patience, oh my goodness, he’s so patient and gentle. Swoon.

I hope you found a few to add to your TBR pile for 2019! Who are your book boyfriends for 2018?

Comfort & Joy – Celebrate Lit – Giveaway

About the Book

ComfortandJoy updated

Book: Comfort & Joy

Author: The Christmas Lights Collection: Alana Terry, Toni Shiloh, Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig

Genre: Christian Contemporary Romance, Cozy Mystery, Suspense, Christmas

Release Date: October 16, 2018

The third-annual Christmas Lights Collection is pleased to present: Comfort & Joy–four Christmas Novellas. From contemporary romance to cozy mystery and suspense, this diverse collection celebrates the comforts and joys of Christmas.

My Review

I was pleasantly surprised by my 99 cent purchase.  I’m always a bit skeptical of the “cheap” collections and usually expect and entertaining time, but I had a hard time putting the collection down to adult. Like, seriously guys, couldn’t put it down. I stayed up waaaayyyyy too late reading.

Deck The Shelves – Toni Shiloh – Once I started to read I remembered that a while back Toni had polled her readers about bookstore names and what their ideal bookstore would look like. Toni put all of the ideas together into a perfect bookstore with great characters, including an adorable little bit. I fell right in love with this prospective family.

The Christmas Glory Quilt – Cathe Swanson – This is the first I’ve read from Cathe, but it sure won’t be the last. A sweet romance with just a little bit of mystery and an Aunt who likes to mix things up a bit. This story has some good secondary characters as well the main characters and I felt like I could relate to most everyone.

The Ghosts of New Cheltenham – Chautona Havig – I LOVED this story. I really liked how we get a third point of view from Lauren, our tweeny detective, in addition to the main characters. Chautona can sometimes be hit or miss for me, strictly because I’m such a romance sap (her writing is always solid), but this story had great romance in it with some sizzling build up tension. For those of you who love the build-up of a relationship, you’ll definitely enjoy this story. I think I might I might find some mistletoe that needs “testing.”

Alana Terry – Frost Heaves – I appreciated Alana broaching a tough topic that I’ve only seen in a few Christian fiction books; that of spiritual abuse and cult churches. I think Alana handles it well, balancing the lies of the cult, countered with Biblical truth and showing the inner thoughts of woman who has been set free, but also struggles with everything she was taught growing up.

While I enjoyed the story, it was a bit jarring to me after the rest of the collection. I think if you know it’s more of a suspense story going into it, then you can focus on the story line; it just surprised me after a couple sweet stories and a cozy mystery. I like both Ben and Jade as characters and wish I could’ve seen more of their story as the end jumped into their relationship a little farther then what I felt was developed in the body of the story. I’d like to see a full length novel of this story that goes into more depth on their relationship.

About the Authors

Alana

Alana Terry: Pastor’s wife Alana Terry is a homeschooling mom, self-diagnosed chicken lady, and Christian suspense author. Her novels have won awards from Women of Faith, Book Club Network, Grace Awards, Readers’ Favorite, and more. Alana’s passion for social justice, human rights, and religious freedom shines through her writing, and her books are known for raising tough questions without preaching. She and her family live in rural Alaska where the northern lights in the winter and midnight sun in the summer make hauling water, surviving the annual mosquito apocalypse, and cleaning goat stalls in negative forty degrees worth every second. You can find her at alanaterry.com

Toni

Toni Shiloh: Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness. You can find her at tonishiloh.wordpress.com

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

Cathe

Cathe Swanson: Cathe Swanson lives in Wisconsin with her husband of 32 years, and the long Wisconsin winters are perfect for writing and reading books! Cathe enjoys writing stories with eccentric characters of all ages. Her books will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again. You can find her at catheswanson.com

Chautona

Chautona Havig: Amazon bestselling author of the Aggie books and Past Forward, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave desert where she uses story to connect readers to the Master Storyteller.

Guest Post from Chautona Havig

Why Do So Many Christians Love to Celebrate Christmas?

“We don’t celebrate Christmas because we were ordered to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. We were never commanded to celebrate His birth.”

Something about that statement didn’t sit well with me, but I was honest enough with myself to admit that it might be because I happened to love Christmas, and the idea of not celebrating it didn’t sit well with my twelve-year-old mind.

No, I didn’t go in for the Santa thing. I never had. As later my children were taught to say, Santa wasn’t “invited to our family celebration.” But still, the family, the joy, the music, the spirit of the thing moved me.

So, I did what I always did when I didn’t understand something. I asked Dad. “Why do we celebrate Christmas?”

If I recall correctly, Dad took a sip of coffee and watched me for several long seconds before he said, “What is Christmas?”

Ever the teacher, Dad had to put on his Socratic robe and make me work for it. I answered. “What we call the day Jesus was supposedly born. His birthday.”

“Okay. So, we celebrate Christ’s birthday on Christmas—on Christmas.”

“Yes.”

He gave me that slight smirk that always meant something good was coming. “And what did God do when His Son was born?”

Dad stumped me there. I blinked. “I don’t know.”

“He sent out the biggest birth announcement ever known to man—a star, angels, music.” Then Dad continued his leading questions. “He…”

I got it. “Celebrated the birth.”

“Yes.” Sometimes Dad was a man of few words.

But I couldn’t be satisfied—not yet.

“So, why do we give presents to each other if it’s Jesus’ birthday? Isn’t that backward?”

“Isn’t all of Christianity backward to the fallen mind?” When I didn’t answer, he smiled again. “What does Christ say about doing things for others?”

It wasn’t word-for-word Scripture—not even close. Just as he would have prompted again, I remembered Jesus’ story of the man who was fed, clothed, and given a drink. “When you do things for others, it’s like you’re doing them for Jesus.”

Dad shrugged then. “Maybe it’s just justification for continuing a beloved tradition, but it brings me joy to give you gifts. And Christ had something to say about how fathers love to give good gifts to their children.”

That brought me back to the original question.

“What about the fact that we’re told to celebrate the death and resurrection of Jesus? We aren’t told to celebrate the birth. Does that make it wrong?”

This time, Dad’s jaw hardened. I saw it twitch, and prepared for a blasting. After all, I had kind of argued with him. I hadn’t meant to, but I could see how it might be taken that way.

“Chautona,” he said, “don’t ever put rules on yourself that God hasn’t. We may not be commanded to celebrate Christ’s birth, but we aren’t forbidden, either. We have God’s example to emulate, and we have this truth.” His voice gentled when he saw he’d startled me. “We would never have been able to celebrate Christ’s death if He had not been born. If that’s not a reason to celebrate, I don’t know what is.”

What does all that have to do with Christmas novellas (or “noellas” like I prefer to call them)?

Well, people ask me all the time. “Why do you write so many Christmas books? Why do these Christmas collections? Why focus so much on the birth of Jesus and the trappings of cultural Christmas when it’s inferior to the “big thing”—the Resurrection?”

Dad’s answer is mine. Because it points to it. It draws attention to it. And because Christmas is one time of year—the only time of year in which you can walk into almost any building in America and still hear praises sung to God at some point. They slip in between love songs about giving away your heart at Christmas and rocking around Christmas trees to “Jingle Bell Rock.”

And even the more “secular” versions that aren’t an outright praise to God like “Silent Night” or “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” sometimes throw in Jesus anyway because they can’t quite leave out, “Merry Christmas” in some place or another.

So maybe our Christmas books are inferior to what “Easter” books could be. Maybe they are. But if Christmas trees, caroling, and “ghost stories” keep Jesus at the forefront of someone’s mind in October, November, or December, then I think that’s a pretty cool thing.

Happy Birthday, Jesus. Thanks for coming.

Blog Stops

A Diva’s Heart, November 29

Book Reviews From an Avid Reader, November 29

A Baker’s Perspective, November 29

Multifarious, November 30

Blossoms and Blessings, November 30

Bibliophile Reviews, December 1

Britt Reads Fiction, December 1

Vicky Sluiter, December 2

Remembrancy, December 2

Among the Reads, December 3

A Reader’s Brain, December 3

KarenSueHadley, December 4

Inklings and notions, December 4

Quiet Quilter, December 5

Lots of Helpers, December 5

God’s Little Bookworm, December 6

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, December 6

Simple Harvest Reads, December 7 (Mindy Houng)

Captive Dreams Window, December 7

Jennifer Sienes: Where Crisis and Christ Collide, December 8

Mary Hake, December 8

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, December 9

Janices book reviews, December 9

Carpe Diem, December 10

Bigreadersite, December 10

Kat’s Corner Books, December 11

Texas Book-aholic, December 11

Aryn The Libraryan, December 12

Josephine’s Bookshelf, December 12

Giveaway

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To celebrate their tour, the Christmas Light Collection is giving away a grand prize of a 6-month Kindle Unlimited subscription!!

Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter. https://promosimple.com/ps/d62a/comfort