Books to help readers feel like celebrating!
Welcome to Book Chat with Julie! I have two recommendations for you this month and both focus on celebrations: one at a house party in Victorian England and the other is a collection of Christmas celebrations! Perfect to start your holiday season.
My first recommendation is To capture her heart by Nancy Campbell Allen. This is the second book in the Matchmaker series (but can be read on its own) and will definitely go to my favorite shelf.
Eva Caldwell is a photographer who often assisted Detective Nathan Winston in his investigative work. He admires her concern for others and her calmness in chaos and she admires the way he treats those around him and his logical mind when tracking down criminals. But Nathan’s mother has planned a party at their Seaside residence, and Nathan is caught in a web of his own making. He tells his matchmaker mother that he’s interested in Eva – which isn’t a lie – but then he asks Eva to pretend to be interested in him so he can avoid any entanglements at the party. . Eva agrees, but there are too many real feelings between them for the pretense to last long. Before they can declare their feelings for each other, however, danger looms large and Nathan and Eva must find out who and what the criminal wants – and hope they can stop him. before anyone gets hurt.
This story is one that will have you turning pages long into the night. Not only is it a witty and tender romance, but the element of intrigue and mystery adds an extra layer of excitement. Eva lives in a time when women are beginning to move away from their traditional roles that society has always given them and Eva accepts this. She is an accomplished photographer, she is interested in suffragette causes and she is not afraid to share her opinions. When it comes to romance, however, Eva has been hurt in the past and she’s afraid to let herself be loved again, but Nathan is a patient man and is willing to work to win her heart. I loved Nathan’s attention to detail, his respect for his mother and sisters, and how he loved Eva but never pushed her into anything until she was ready. The author really gives the reader a detailed insight into this couple’s feelings and fears, making it seem like we really know them. Their romance will make you sigh with the beauty of it. The danger aspect is perfectly mixed with the romance as they trust each other and work together to catch the criminal. Everything intertwines for a wonderfully entertaining romance that you won’t be able to put down!
My second recommendation is holly and ivya Yuletide collection that includes novels by four authors: Sarah Eden, Esther Hatch, Dana LeCheminant and Anneka Walker.
The first story is holly and ivy by Sarah M. Eden and features Adam, a young Duke of Kielder, struggling with the death of his father and the abandonment of his mother. His neighbours, Lord and Lady Jonquil, invite him into their home and shower love on the little boy, including a Christmas party he will never forget. Adam’s nanny, Robbie, also figures in the story as she finds love in the most unexpected place. A sweet story of finding a family and what love really means.
The second story is Hide Christmas by Esther Hatch. This one was a fun adventure as Kirstine hides her trip to London to celebrate Christmas, but becomes entangled when a little lie turns into her pretending to be married – to Isaac, who is the only Englishman in her Scottish village, and her nemesis ! But as they are thrown together on their trip to England, she begins to realize that maybe the things she thought of Isaac aren’t true and her feelings may have turned into something she never thought she would feel for an Englishman. Such a fun and lighthearted story.
The third story is A twist of Christmas by Dana LeCheminant. It’s a story with lots of twists and turns as two couples hide their true identities at a house party. Elizabeth has entered society and is already tired of being treated so differently just because she is the daughter of a duke, so she convinces her mate to take her place. Graham is also tired of his position in society and how his brother is always overlooked, so he convinces his brother to take his place. Chaos ensues in this multi-faceted and convoluted romance of who is truly in love with whom and whether someone or everyone will find their happily ever after!
The last story is A season to love by Anneka Walker. Alice prays that God will help her find a husband before she is forced into a marriage in which she may not find happiness. When her prayer is heard by her rector, Thomas Perry, he agrees to help her find a husband. There was a lot of unexpected humor in this story as Alice and Thomas realized how perfect they were for each other. And the kids in this story were adorable and stole all of their scenes! A sweet and surprising romance.
This month’s recommendations are sure to get readers in the festive mood and get us ready for the upcoming holiday season!
Behind the Scenes – A Conversation with Nancy Campbell Allen
Nancy Campbell Allen is one of my favorite authors and I was so excited to chat with her about her new book and what she is up to! I’ve included several questions here, but if you want to know more about our conversation, you can log on to my Book Chat with Julie podcast.
Julia: This book is set in the Victorian era where society’s view of the role of women was changing. What do you think is the biggest change for women at this time?
Nancy: I think the biggest change for women at that time was to feel the freedom to think that they could do things for themselves that are usually reserved for men. They owned their own property, got inheritance rights, were able to get a job and start building a career outside the home. The education was huge. If you want a society to improve, educate its daughters.
Julia: Where did you get the idea for this story?
Nancy: This story was a natural progression from the series premiere, and once Eva photographed crime scenes in this first book, I knew what her journey would be. It’s been so much fun writing her story and including elements that many novel readers love, including the “fake relationship” trope. Always a classic!
Julia: Eva’s profession is photography which was quite involved at the time. How much research did you have to do? Did you discover any unique or strange details during your research?
Nancy: There really was so much to take a simple photo at the time! The process was fascinating to learn about and I was happy to find YouTube videos of people still taking photos using the original equipment and development processes. I hadn’t realized that from the time the photo plates are treated with the necessary chemicals to the time they need to be exposed, it takes about 15 minutes. That’s not a lot of time!
Julia: If this book were adapted for the cinema, who would you play as Nathan and Eva?
Nancy: Oh, wow, um. I think Zac Efron would be a great Nathan, and an early 20s Natalie Portman for Eva.
Julia: What are you working on now?
Nancy: I’m working on the third book in the series, the story of Charlotte Duvall. She is the third cousin of the trio; she has just finished her medical studies in America and has returned home to England for her father’s funeral. Shenanigans ensue!
Thank you so much for joining me for our book talk today. I hope you can really get into the festive spirit as we prepare for the holidays!
To capture her heart by Nancy Campbell Allen, published by Shadow Mountain Publishing, 278 pages, available in hardcover, audio and ebook.
holly and ivy by Sarah M. Eden, Esther Hatch, Dana LeCheminant and Anneka Walker, published by Covenant Communications, 469 pages, available in softcover and ebook.
After winning $10 in a sophomore writing contest, Julie Coulter Bellon knew she wanted to be a published author someday. This dream has come true and she is now the award-winning author of thirty books. She is also a podcast host for Authors Off the Page and Book Chat with Julie.