Wednesday, December 24, 2014

"Hope for the Holidays Historical Collection" by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Myra Johnson, and Julie Lessman

The Seekers of Seekerville present a collaboration of historical, holiday-themed novellas by Mary Connealy, Ruth Logan Herne, Myra Johnson, and Julie Lessman.

"Sophie's Other Daughter" by Mary Connealy returns to the McClellan and Reeves clans, following the youngest - and girliest- of Sophie's four daughters and her old nemesis Ike Reeves. Stuck with Ike as an escort home from the birth of another Reeves baby, Laura is furious to discover Ike has a gang of outlaws hot on his trail. In traditional Connealy style, the story has plenty of guns and humor, and it was great to return to those characters that I have enjoyed so much. It is a perfect epilogue to Petticoat Ranch and subsequent novels.*

In Ruth Logan Herne's "A Town Called Christmas," a reclusive English immigrant ends up hosting a wagon train on his Idaho ranch for the winter. In spite of the inconvenience, he finds himself drawn to the sweet little widow he hires as his housekeeper. A fun tribute to Idaho's pioneering and immigrant history, the story is written with a heavy dose of humor, but it also has a serious thread to tug at the heartstrings.

Myra Johnson's "Designs on Love" sends a young seamstress home to Texas to take care of her parents' estate - and debts - after the yellow fever outbreak takes their lives. While taking on some dressmaking to help cover the debts, an old friend steps back into her life to help her. I enjoyed learning a bit more about Texas history, and anything about sewing naturally piques my interest. Overall, a very sweet love story.

Julie Lessman returns to her O'Connor saga in "A Whisper of Hope," following Charity and Mitch Dennehy as Charity yearns for more children after a decade of barrenness following their twins. Volunteering at an orphanage isn't helping eliminate the yearning, especially after a cross-eyed waif steals her heart . . . Lessman's story is a good reminder to continue to hope whatever the circumstances, and to let go of our own plans and trust God's to be better than anything we come up with. A heartwarming tale, it oozes love and hope and faith.**

While the four stories have little in common but the Christmas theme (and that they are historical, rather than contemporary), they form a solid collection. Connealy's and Herne's are both westerns and heavy on the humor, while Johnson and Lessman sport a stronger serious thread. Whether in the mood for familiar characters or new faces, a lively tale or sweet love story, there is something for everyone in this highly enjoyable collection.

*This story is best having read Petticoat Ranch and Calico Canyon first (being the two books most related to the story), though really it's best to read all three related trilogies for absolute fullest enjoyment: Lassoed in Texas, Montana Marriages, and Sophie's Daughters.

**Again, best read after the two trilogies, Daughters of Boston and Winds of Change

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