Friday, December 27, 2019

Book Review: Forever my Duke by Olivia Drake

Forever my Duke, Book 2 in the Unlikely Duchesses series by Olivia Drake

Publisher & Release: St. Martin’s Press, December 31, 2019

Time and setting:  Regency England

Genre: Historical Romance

Heat Level: 1 Flame

Rating:  4 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

Forever My Duke is the second novel in a brand new Regency romance series from Olivia Drake about rakish dukes and the governesses who steal their hearts.
“I find Miss Fanshawe to be quite charming—for an American.”—The Prince Regent 
Hadrian Ames, the Duke of Clayton, needs a bride. He even has the perfect one picked out. That is, until he meets the lovely, free-spirited Natalie Fanshawe. She’s the opposite of what a man of his high rank should desire in a wife—an outspoken American who has never even set foot in a London ballroom.
But Natalie doesn’t have time to be swept off her feet by a handsome duke who must be a spoiled scoundrel like every other British lord. And she couldn’t care less about Hadrian’s title. After all, it’s not as if he actually worked to attain his wealth and status. He surely can’t understand what it’s like to be a busy woman, planning to open a school while trying to reunite a six-year-old orphan with his English relatives. Nevertheless, Hadrian launches his campaign to win her heart. Can the utterly delightful American beauty ever find a way to love him…despite his being a duke?

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for the opportunity to read and review Forever my Duke, Book 2 in the Unlikely Duchesses series, by Olivia Drake by Olivia Drake, an historical romance. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Forever my Duke is a fast-paced enjoyable reading experience. The plot is unique and doesn't follow the typical pattern for Regency romance, yet still gives a strong sense of the glittering life of the Beau Monde. 

Natalie Fanshawe’s character is an engaging heroine. She has tremendous loyalty and willing to go to any lengths for those she loves. That is proven time and again in Forever my Duke. She’s an admirable character, so I became vested in her right away. Her tender care of her charge touched my heart.

Hadrian Ames, Duke of Clayton, is the typical ducal hero. In the beginning he’s austere and appears to look down his nose at anyone beneath him. But wait, there is more to him under the surface and a great many reasons why he keeps himself separate from others. It also explains why he’s ready to take his second cousin as his betrothed. I was able to warm to his character faster than I usually do, to his type of hero.

The romance between Natalie and Clayton has plenty of spark and fire. At times, it’s a bit of a love/hate relationship, but as the story proceeds, the couple’s overwhelming attraction takes over. There’s a good bit of sexual tension threaded through this book, which is an aspect of Regency romance that most appeals to me. I found their romance satisfied that love in a strong way.

If you enjoy historical romance with strong heroes and heroines and an adorable little boy, then you like love Forever my Duke as much as I did. I’m glad I took a chance on this one. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Olivia Drake is the author of 35 romance novels. Her most recent series is called 'Unlikely Duchesses' and began with THE DUKE I ONCE KNEW. The second book in the series, FOREVER MY DUKE, will be released in January 2020.


Olivia Drake's books have won the Golden Heart Award, Best Historical Romantic Suspense, Best Regency Historical, and the prestigious RITA Award from Romance Writers of America. She lives in Houston, Texas, with her husband and a pair of feisty cats. Her two daughters have flown the nest, but they still come back whenever they want a home-cooked meal.

Olivia has also written under the name Barbara Dawson Smith.

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Monday, December 23, 2019

Book Review: Roseanna's Gift by Susan Lantz Simpson

Roseanna’s Gift by Susan Lantz Simpson

Publisher & Release: Zebra Books, December 31, 2019 (Paperback)

Time and setting:  Present Day, Maryland

Genre: Amish Fiction

Length: 336 Pages

Heat Level: 1 Sweetheart

Rating:  5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

In Southern Maryland’s serene Amish country, one young woman’s life is changed by an unexpected request . . .
“She’s yours.” Until now, Rosanna Mast’s hopes for the future have all revolved around handsome Henry Zook. But when a young Englisch girl places her newborn daughter in Rosanna’s arms and utters those words, shock quickly turns to fierce, protective devotion. Between helping her midwife mamm and caring for her own siblings, Rosanna has plenty of experience with babies. And who wouldn’t love a sweet-natured boppli like little Mollie? Yet to her dismay, Henry has no intention of ever taking on another man’s childInstead, it is steady, thoughtful Paul Hertzler who becomes Rosanna’s staunch supporter.
Paul knows he should have acted sooner on his feelings for Rosanna. Now, as her dream of adopting Mollie meets unexpected hurdles, he sees a way to help. Rosanna would do anything to keep baby Mollie—perhaps even agree to marriage. But will Rosanna continue to hold him at arm’s length, or see that he longs to offer her the love and family she deserves?

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for the opportunity to read and review Roseanna’s Gift by Susan Lantz Simpson prior to publication, a heartwarming Amish romance. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

Roseanna’s Gift is an emotionally charged Amish fiction novel. The story concerns choices and decisions that could, and do, impact a young Amish girl’s future dreams of a husband and her own family. The writing flows beautifully, and Ms. Simpson gives an authentic feel for the Amish culture. The pacing is perfect flowing with the ebb and tide of the story.

Roseanna Mast’s character is endearing. When she accepts a newborn from a young Englischer who gives birth at her parents’ home, she realizes this could ruin her chances with Henry Zook, the young man she’s wanted as her husband. I could feel her torment when he does as she expects and moves on to another Amish girl in their community. I fell in love with her from the first page for her nurturing ways toward the sweet little boppli, Molly.

Paul Hertzler is the young man who steps in, offering his friendship and support. He’s such an amazing man who has loved Roseanna from afar for years. His care of for the wee little one touched my soul. I truly wanted him to win Roseanna’s heart.

This is a story of a young girl's willingness to trust in God's love to guide her in her decisions, even when faced with possible alienation from her community and the destruction of her fragile connection with the man she believes she loves. Roseanna's Gift has a beautiful message.

The romance is sweet, as in most Amish fiction, and is based on friendship and mutual respect. While it takes Roseanna’s a good bit of time before she recognizes Paul in any kind of romantic way, when she does it warmed my heart.

If you enjoy Amish fiction that has a lovely romance with engaging characters and a few twists along the way, then you will love Roseanna’s Gift as much as I did. I will definitely be looking for other books by this talented author. In fact, I’ve just downloaded the first book in this series. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Susan Lantz Simpson has been writing stories and poetry ever since she penned her first poem at the age of six. She has always loved the magic of words and how they can entertain and enlighten others. Her love of words and books led her to earn a degree in English/Education. She has taught students from Prekindergarten to high school and has also worked as an editor for the federal government. She also holds a degree in nursing and has worked in hospitals and in community health. She writes inspirational stories of love and faith and has published a middle-grade novel (Ginger and the Bully). She lives in Maryland and is the mother of two wonderful daughters. She is a member of ACFW and Maryland Christian Writers Group. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, walking, and doing needlework.
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Friday, December 20, 2019

Book Review: When Love Finds You by Virginia Wise

When Love Finds You by Virginia Wise

Publisher & Release: Zebra Books, December 31, 2019

Time and setting:  18th Century, Pennsylvania

Genre: Historical Romance/Amish Fiction

Length: 352 Pages

Rating:  5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

In the latest novel in Virginia Wise’s stirring historical saga about America's first Amish settlement, a once-privileged woman in a very different new world soon finds that hope—and love—are worth the challenge . . .
Scandal drove Catrina Witmer from her life as a wealthy Englischer's pampered daughter—to reluctant membership in Pennsylvania’s thriving new Amish settlement. Surprisingly, Catrina finds contentment and peace in this promising new land, though she won't risk telling anyone about her past. But the unexpected sparks between her and bashful warm-hearted farmer Eli Webber suddenly have her dreaming of an impossible chance at happiness—as his wife.
Eli never imagined such a spirited woman would look his way. Or that he could ever deserve her, given his own guilty mistakes. But Catrina's vivacity and kindness have him impulsively proposing. Unfortunately, his over-righteous sister, and the consequences of secrets on both sides, threaten to tear their marriage apart for good. Now Catrina and Eli must try forgiving themselves and finding strength in their bond if they are to have a joyous future together . . . 

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks Goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, to read and review When Love Finds You by Virginia Wise in advance of publication. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

When Love Finds You is a beautiful romance with heartfelt characters and a plot that touched me greatly. The writing flows beautifully and Ms. Wise gives the reader the right amount of information concerning the environment and characterization of the Amish to add authenticity to this book.

Catrina Witmer’s character grew up Englisch, and the pampered daughter of a Philadelphia merchant. She leaves under a cloud of scandal and goes with her grandparents to a thriving Amish settlement. She wants a chance to start over where no one knows what happened. I could feel her fear that her new life would disappear if anyone finds out what happened. I liked her character a great deal. I’m a firm believer in second chances.

Eli Webber is a wonderful hero. He’s a humble man, and not gorgeous, which is a breath of fresh air since in most romance novels, the hero is. He’s not the typical Amish man. He’s a weaver, not a farmer and is fairly clueless about establishing a homestead on the edge of the wilderness. He’s devoted to his sister, who definitely see the glass half empty. His patience with her is amazing!

The romance between Catrina and Eli is sweet and develops slowly yet is very satisfying. I love the innocence in Amish romances. A relationship between them is not based on physical attraction, but on the substance of the characters. As I enter my golden years, I understand that is so much more important than physical appearance. I really wanted to see Catrina and Eli find their happy ending!

If you enjoy novels with engaging characters and a heartwarming romance, then you will love When Love Finds You. I loved the spiritual message in this book, and I have to read the first novel in this series. Happy reading!

Author’s Notes:

Thanks goes to Virginia Wise for approving the inclusion of some of her research.

When did the Amish come to America?  Why did they risk everything to start a new life in a strange land?

The Amish trace their history back to the 16thcentury Protestant Reformation, when the European Anabaptist movement began.  Two foundational beliefs set Anabaptists apart from other reformers: adult baptism and a “Free Church,” with no government interference. 

Considered radicals and heretics, the Amish were persecuted for their beliefs by both Catholics and Protestants.  They were hunted down and imprisoned, tortured, burned  at the stake, and exiled. 

In the aftermath of persecution, the Amish looked to the New World for refuge.  The first major wave of Amish immigration took place in 1737, when the Charming Nancy sailed into Philadelphia with 21 hopeful families. 
These Amish pioneers settled on the Pennsylvania frontier to scratch out a living from an untamed wilderness.  More families followed and formed farming communities in  what would eventually become known as Pennsylvania’s Amish Country. Another, larger wave of Amish immigrants arrived in the early to mid-19thcentury. Many of these  families settled in the Midwest, New York State, and Ontario.

Today, the Old Order Amish have disappeared from Europe completely.  But, their North American communities continue to thrive and grow!

Germanic Roots
The first Amish settlers in America hailed from Germany and Switzerland.  They brought their language and customs with them in addition to their religious beliefs.  Their dialect of German evolved over the years, developing into the Pennsylvania Dutch spoken today.  In this case, the word “Dutch” does not refer to people from the Netherlands.  Instead, it is a corruption of the German word “Deutsche,” which means German.         

Author Bio:

After Virginia’s oldest son left for college and her youngest son began high school, she finally had time to pursue her dream of writing novels. Virginia dusted off the keyboard she once used as a magazine editor and journalist to create a world that combines her love of romance, history, and Plain living.

Her Amish New World series takes readers on a journey into the 18th century Pennsylvania wilderness and the pioneering days of the first American Amish. Each carefully researched novel brings a bygone era to life and connects readers to this forgotten time by weaving familiar Amish romances into an historic frontier setting.

Virginia Wise's favorite pastimes include wandering Lancaster County’s Amish country and exploring history museums that inspire her stories and help her connect readers with the past. When she’s not writing, Virginia enjoys painting and taking long walks in the woods.

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After Virginia’s oldest son left for college and her youngest son began high school, she finally had time to pursue her dream of writing novels. Virginia dusted off the keyboard she once used as a magazine editor and journalist to create a world that combines her love of romance, history, living.

Her Amish New World series takes readers on a journey into the 18th century Pennsylvania wilderness and the pioneering days of the first American Amish. Each wandering Lancaster County’s Amish country and exploring history museums that inspire her stories and help her connect readers with the past. When she’s not wr

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Book Review: The Way Back to You by Sharon Sala

The Way Back to You by Sharon Sala

Publisher & Release: Sourcebooks Casablanca, December 31, 2019

Time and setting:  Present Day, Blessings, GA

Genre: Contemporary Romance, Women’s Fiction

Length: 352 Pages

Heat Level: Mild

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

What do you do when your whole life is turned upside down?
Sully Raines sets out to find his birth mother, and ends up in Blessings, Georgia. A new surprise awaits him here, but of the best kind—his childhood sweetheart, whom he hasn't seen since she moved away when they were teens, is living in Blessings now. He's not sure she's as happy to see him as he is to see her, but it's been a lot of years, and a lot of water under the bridge...
Sully's heartfelt search for answers about his past might just turn out to be the key to his future...

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Vikki’s Musings

What a marvelous addition to the Blessings, Georgia series. Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley for the opportunity to read and review prior to publication. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

I have now read quite a few books in this amazing series. At first, it took a bit of time to get used to Ms. Sala’s writing style, since so many characters have a point of view, and it changes quickly and often. Now that I have adjusted, I no longer find it distracting. In fact, I have come to quite enjoy it.

The Way Back to You is a delightful romance that kept me engaged from the first page to the last. The plot is so unique, and the characters are real, both are heartwarming and touched my heart. This book has a bit of it all. It gives a great feel to small town USA and the endearing characters in Blessings, Georgia. The Way Back to You even has a good bit of suspense, which I’ve come to expect in Ms. Sala’s books, and a wonderful love story to enhance my reading experience.

Melissa Dean is a unique character. At first, she seemed too caught up in her late husband she’d lost twenty years before, but that soon proved to be a misconception on my part. She is a hard-working small businesswoman who just believes she’s too old to find romance, now that she’s finally come out of the fog of grief. I could feel the thrill she experienced when she realizes her rescuer is none other than her first boyfriend. Just loved her reaction so much.

Sully Raines is the hero, and he’s on a mission to find his birth mother. The only woman he’d ever known left a letter and information regarding his adoption when she passes. That was the first he’d heard of it. He’s recently retired from the Kansas City Fire department, so he has the time and resources for his search.

He follows the minimal leads he has to Texas, then New Orleans where he speaks with one of Janie Chapman’sshe’s his birth momex-husbands. He now has a last known address in Blessings, Georgia. When he arrives in Blessings, he checks into a quaint bed & breakfast, then heads to a café for a meal. He witnesses a horrific car crash and reacts quickly to save a woman from a smoking car. Imagine his surprise when he realizes it’s his childhood sweetheart, one he has never forgotten.

Sully is an awesome hero. Not only is he brave and fearless, he’s a man who doesn’t give up. His determination to find his birth mother is amazing. His pursuit of Melissa is sweet and fulfilling. I truly loved his character.

The romance between Melissa and Sully is one of the most endearing I’ve read recently. They are so obviously drawn to each other, and both characters have strong romantic feelings for each other from the first time they see each other again. I thoroughly enjoy Ms. Sala’s love scenes, while they are sexual, they focus on the feelings and not the act itself. I could feel the emotions each character had for the other.

If you enjoy romances with an outstanding group of characters that will touch your heart, and a beautiful love story with an added mystery to solve, then you will love The Way Back to You as much as I did. I can’t wait to read the next book in this fantastic series. I have totally fallen in love with Blessings. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Sharon Sala is a long-time member of RWA, as well as a member of OKRWA. She has 115 books and novellas in print, published in six different genres – Romance, Young Adult, Western, Fiction, and Women's Fiction and Non-Fiction. First published in 1991, she's an eight-time RITA finalist, winner of the Janet Dailey Award, five-time Career Achievement winner from RT Magazine, five time winner of the National Reader's Choice Award, and five time winner of the Colorado Romance Writer's Award of Excellence, winner of the Heart of Excellence Award, as well as winner of the Booksellers Best Award. In 2011 she was named RWA's recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2017 Romance Writers of America presented her with the Centennial Award for recognition of her 100th published novel. Her books are New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly best-sellers. Writing changed her life, her world, and her fate. For book list, go to her website:

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Monday, December 16, 2019

Book Review: The Intended Victim by Alexandra Ivy

The Intended Victim by Alexandra Ivy

Publisher & Release: Zebra Books, December 31, 2019

Time and setting:  Present Day, USA

Genre: Mystery/Thriller

Length: 384 Pages

Rating: 5 Gold Crowns

Book Description: 

The body lying on a cold steel slab bears all the hallmarks of the Chicago Butcher. There’s a cruel slash across her throat, deep enough to sever the carotid artery, and a small crescent carved into her right breast. Her delicate features are painfully familiar to Ash Marcel, once a rising star in the Chicago PD. But though the victim resembles his former fiancée, Remi Walsh, he knows it’s not her.
Though Remi escaped a serial killer five years ago, her father died trying to save her. Grief and guilt caused her to pull away from the man she loved. Now Ash is back in her life, insisting that Remi is still in danger.

Someone is targeting women who look just like Remi. With or without a badge, Ash intends to unmask the Butcher. But the killer isn’t playing games any longer. He’s moving in, ready to finish what he started, and prove there’s nothing more terrifying than a killer’s obsession . . .

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Vikki’s Musings

Thanks goes to the publisher, via Net-Galley, for the opportunity to read and review The Intended Victim prior to publication. My opinions are my own and are not influenced in any way.

The Intended Victim is a spin-chilling romantic suspense that had me biting my nails until the very end. The pacing is quick, and the action scenes are heart throbbing. The writing is crisp and perfect for this book. I love a “who done it” where I really have no clue who the villain is until they are revealed in the climatic ending. Wow, just wow!

Remi’s character has been running from the nightmare that occurred five years before. She has a job that fulfills her and has moved on at last. Then, her ex-fiancée returns turning her safe world upside down. Feelings and emotions run high and has her questioning the decisions she made after losing her father. I could sense her turmoil and experienced her fears when she learns the serial killer is back.

Ash Marcel is a great hero, one who rushes in to the safe the damsel in distress. He is determined to protect Remi from the Chicago Butcher, no matter what it takes, and if his love for her is reawakened, then so be it. I loved his willingness to dive in without any thought or concern for his emotional turmoil, upon seeing Remi again, causes him.

The romance between Remi and Ash is amazing. The chemistry between them is visceral and stirred me in ways I’ve not experienced in quite some time. Remi and Ash are perfect for each other.

If you enjoy romantic thrillers with “sit on the edge of your seat excitement,” then you will love The Intended Victim as much as I did. This is the first book I’ve read by Ms. Ivy, but it will not be the last. Happy reading!

Author Bio:

Alexandra Ivy graduated from Truman University with a degree in theatre before deciding she preferred to bring her characters to life on paper rather than stage. She started her career writing traditional regencies before moving into the world of paranormal with her USA Today, Wall Street Journal, and New York Times bestselling series The Guardians of Eternity. Now she writes a wide variety of genres that include paranormal, erotica, and romantic suspense. 

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Friday, December 13, 2019

2019 Casa Christmas Bast!

2019 Casa Christmas!

Can you believe Christmas is right around the corner? To celebrate, we asked the authors of our 2019 Christmas titles to answer some fun, wintry and Christmas themed questions!
Fall in love this Christmas and be sure to read:

·      Longing for a Cowboy Christmasby Leigh Greenwood, Rosanne Bittner, Linda Broday, Margaret Brownley, Anna Schmidt, and Amy Sandas
·      Wish Upon a Cowboyby Jennie Marts
·      Cowboy Christmas Kiss by Kim Redford
·      Cowboy Christmas Homecomingby June Faver
·      A Dash of Christmasby Samantha Chase
·      Puppy Christmas by Lucy Gilmore
·      Silver Town Wolf: Home for the Holidaysby Terry Spear

Keep reading to get in the Christmas spirit and check out the books over at Romance Reads!


What’s the best part about writing a Christmas book?

Rosanne Bittner:       The best part about writing a Christmas story is that it takes me into that “miracle” mood that seems to be a part of the Christmas holiday. I always try to include some kind of little miracle in my stories. In last year’s anthology,Christmas In A Cowboy’s Arms, my story miracle was the healed awakening of an unconscious little girl. This year, in Longing for A Cowboy Christmas, my miracle surrounds the birth of a baby boy the mother wasn’t sure she could love.
Anna Schmidt:          For me the holidays are a magical time of sharing and giving and FORgiving. To be able to tell stories that convey those things is a gift in itself.
Jennie Marts:           Capturing all the magic of the Christmas season and giving it to both your characters and your readers as you create touches of that magic in the story.
June Faver:               The absolutely best part of writing a Christmas book in Texas is that I’m wearing shorts, tank top and flip-flops while writing about slogging through the snow. It helps with the endless summer heat when my brain is hauling hay to cattle in the snow blanketed fields.
Kim Redford:            Magic!A larger-than-life theme that touches many lives always arises when I’m writing a Christmas book. In Cowboy Firefighter Christmas Kiss, Fernando, the stolen bull, escapes and heads for home where an eight-year-old girl awaits him, hoping he’ll get there in time for Christmas. In ACowboy Firefighter for Christmas, troubleshooter Misty Reynolds arrives in time to help Trey Duval stop a brushfire, investigate a Christmas tree farm fire, and be dubbed his “Christmas Angel.”  
Lucy Gilmore:           One of the best (and sneakiest) things for an author to do is put their own family traditions into the book. We all have our unique ways of celebrating and enjoying the holidays, many of which are passed down from generation to generation. By writing a Christmas book, I can share some of those traditions with the world, and you don’t even know I’m doing it!
Margaret Brownley: I always seem to be writing a Christmas book during the searing heat of summer.  To get in the right mood, I try to imagine a reader curled up in front of a blazing fire, hot chocolate in hand and smiling as she reads my story. The image usually puts me in the Christmas spirit.  On the few occasions it fails to work, I stick my feet in a bucket of ice water.
Samantha Chase:      There is something about writing a Christmas book that just gives me joy from the first word to the last. I think it’s because everyone always seems happier during the holidays and that gets to be portrayed in the book. The plot doesn’t have to be quite so angsty – everything is lighter and sweeter and always ends with a Merry Christmas!
Terry Spear:              I always end up having to write them during the hot Texas summers, so when I write a Christmas book, I look for Christmas recipes, make up pictures of wolves and snow, and cool myself down.       

What is something you can’t live without during the holiday season?
Amy Sandas:             Cozy socks. I'm not much for slippers, but my feet are always cold so I love to warm them up with thick, super-soft socks.
Anna Schmidt:          Traditions from my childhood—my family was very into giving to others especially those who might not be blessed with family at that time of year so I love finding ways to shop and wrap and give to others.
Jennie Marts:           We have a tradition of our family going to the Candlelight Service at church on Christmas Eve then coming back to my house for homemade lasagna and my Christmas Butter Bundt cake. I wouldn’t want to miss any of this special night.
Lucy Gilmore:           My heated ice scraper for the car. Seriously. It snows a ton where I live, and we don’t have a garage, so having a quick, easy, and warm way to get the ice off the windows is like holiday magic.
Margaret Brownley: I couldn’t live without knowing the true meaning of Christmas and what we are celebrating.  This keeps me from becoming overwhelmed by the commercial part and focused on the things that truly count.  
Samantha Chase:      My decorations. We have a TON of Disney decorations we’ve collected over the years and I always look forward to taking them out and putting them all over the house.
Rosanne Bittner:       Something I can’t live without in the Christmas season is, of course, having my 3 grandsons over on Christmas Eve. They love my apple pie!
Terry Spear:              Decorating for the holidays--a Christmas tree. I feel I'm in my own Christmas story, my home is now a holiday scene. It's warm and the Christmas lights make it cheery and special mementos handed down from our family or that I've picked up in special places or from friends and family are brought out and cherished all over again.

What’s your favorite holiday or winter tradition?
Jennie Marts:           My two sons and I have a fun tradition of inviting the grandma’s over to our house on December 23rd to make all the Christmas cookies. We used to have the great grandmothers participate and those were great memories, and even though my sons are grown, we still do this tradition.
Linda Broday:           The candlelight service on Christmas Eve puts joy and thankfulness in my heart and I look forward to it each year. There’s something very moving about sitting in a church lit only by candles, singing Christmas hymns. The service brings such a sense of peace.
Lucy Gilmore:           I hate, hate, hate being cold, so winter can be a tough time for me. I’d stay inside all day, every day if I could. However, I also have two very large, very active Akitas who adore everything about the snow, so that’s not really a choice. One of my favorite traditions is taking the two of them to a nearby hiking spot as soon as we get fresh snow (which, to be fair, is most days). The cold matters a lot less the moment I see them prancing around and throwing the snow to each other. They’d probably love it if we moved to the Arctic year-round. (Sorry, dogs. That will never happen.)
Margaret Brownley: A favorite family tradition began by accident.  When the children were small, I habitually bought Christmas presents throughout the year and hid them. The problem was, some presents were invariably forgotten until after Christmas.  One gloomy January, while organizing my closet, I found a set of cars I’d intended Santa to leave under the tree.  Not knowing how else to handle it, I entered the room where the boys were playing and announced, “Look what Santa left on the roof.”  This was a big hit and every year after that, Santa always left something on the roof.  The funny thing is that no one ever thought to ask what Mommy had been doing on the roof. 
Terry Spear:              Seeing the Nutcrackeror some other play like that over the holidays.

What’s your favorite holiday memory?
Anna Schmidt:          Wrapping presents with my Dad—he always had us shop for him and then gathered us kids one night to wrap everything on his list for my Mom (usually 10-12 gifts). He wrote these wonderful cards to attach to each gift and there always was one small gift (usually jewelry) he hid in the tree.
Linda Broday:           What parent hasn’t worked hard on Christmas Eve putting toys together? I remember one Christmas when my husband and I tried for most of the night to assemble a bicycle for my oldest. We hunted and hunted for one important part and finally found it in the trunk of the car where it had fallen out of the box. Exhausted, we fell into bed and I still remember the warmth of his arms around me. We fell asleep whispering to each other. He passed away a few short years after that. But I can’t look at a bicycle without remembering that night.
Terry Spear:              Having both kids and their spouses here for the holidays. That's the best time ever.

What’s your favorite Christmas movie?
Amy Sandas:             It's gotta be a tie between Home Alonebecause it's so nostalgic and fun for the whole family... or Die Hard(Yes, it is a Christmas movie!) which has become an annual tradition in our house.
Anna Schmidt:          The vintage version of A Christmas Carol w/ George C. Scott—he made the BEST Scrooge!!!
Jennie Marts:           The Santa Clausewith Tim Allen. I love all three of them, and we watch at least one every year.
June Faver:               I love, love, love Love, Actually. I can watch it over and over, and tear up every time. But, on the other hand, I also have to watch Die Hard. Is this why I write romantic suspense? Gotta have both.
Kim Redford:            It’s a Wonderful Life(1946) stars James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore. Frank Capra directed this film based on the short story, “The Greatest Gift” by Philip Van Doren Stern. Over the years, this magical tale of a man whose guardian angel shows him the true value of his life has become one of the most beloved holiday films. George Bailey (James Stewart) gave up his dreams to help his family and friends in his small home town and so always lived what he considered a small, unimportant life. When a financial disaster strikes, he turns suicidal until Clarence Odbody (Henry Travers) arrives as his guardian angel to reveal all the lives George has touched in positive ways and how different the town of Bedford Falls would have been if he had not been born.
Linda Broday:           This is a little old-fashioned, but I always have to watch The Homecomingat least once. It was the first Walton’s episode about Christmas on Walton’s Mountain during the Depression. No matter how many times I watch it, I always get a lump in my throat at how little they had, yet they were a happy family, taking joy in just being alive and together. This has suspense when the father can’t get home and they fear he’s been killed in a bus accident. Christmas wouldn’t be the same without watching this.
Lucy Gilmore:           My go-to holiday movie every year is While You Were Sleeping. Granted, it’s not the most Christmas-y of Christmas movies, but I love everything about it. Never, in my wildest dreams, would I picture Bill Pullman as a romantic lead, but he absolutely sells it in this movie. Plus, the dinner scene with the family is SO MUCH like my own that I start giggling just thinking about.
Rosanne Bittner:       My favorite Christmas movie would have to be the original “Scrooge,” A Christmas Carol. But I also absolutely love the original Miracle on 34th Street.
Samantha Chase:      Um…The Christmas Cottage (based on my book!) of course!
Terry Spear:              A Christmas Story. I loved how he wrote his Christmas wish list at school and he didn't get the "A" he expected for such a brilliant piece of work. "You'll shoot your eye out" comes to mind whenever I think of what he wanted for Christmas.

What’s your favorite holiday/winter song?
Anna Schmidt:          “The Christmas Song” or “Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire”
Jennie Marts:           “O Come All Ye Faithful” and “Oh Holy Night” are probably my favorite Christmas carols. I love belting them out in church or when they come on the radio. When my second son was born, he had colic and I used to sing to him in the middle of the night, and I would often sing “O Come All Ye Faithful” because it was one of the few songs I knew all the words to.
June Faver:               I have two favorite Christmas songs for totally different reasons. When I was in college I was a member of the Acapella Choir <alto> and one song we sang was so gorgeous with all the voices chiming in can still make me tear up: “Do You Hear What I Hear”
The other song is “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”. I think of all the people who are separated from loved ones at the holidays. That was why it was so important for me to write Cowboy Christmas Homecoming, to chronicle the return of a soldier to his home town and how he adjusts and settles in after the horrors of his deployment. It’s also a sequel in the Garrett family saga, so there are old friends to celebrate with him. And finally, it’s about an amazing heroine, based on a female firefighter friend of mine, who in effect, rescues the big strong and emotionally isolated hero. Love it.  
Kim Redford:            “Pretty Paper” recorded by Roy Orbison and written by Willie Nelson. In downtown Fort Worth, Texas, a handicapped (pre artificial limbs) street peddler always had a smile on his face and a kind word on his lips when he sold pencils from a tin cup affixed to his back. At Christmas, he peddled paper and ribbons, calling out “pretty paper, pretty ribbons” to everyone who happened by. Willie Nelson lived in Fort Worth at the time and wrote this heartfelt song that is a lasting tribute.
Lucy Gilmore:           I love this question because my answer is always, always “Snoopy vs. the Red Baron.” I also hate this question because I can’t explain why I love it so much. I mean, it’s catchy and fun, but it’s also about a cartoon dog who takes down an enemy WWI pilot on Christmas Eve. What? I’ve decided there must be some deep childhood association with it that I can’t recall, but that leaves me with a happy feeling all the same.
Margaret Brownley:  It’s not Christmas for me without seeing at least one production of The Nutcracker Suite. I love the music so much I wrote a story called The Nutcracker Bride.  I also wrote a story titled after another Christmas favorite: “Do You Hear What I Hear?”
One story I’ll never write isGrandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer.” This isn’t my favorite by any means, but it always makes me laugh. That’s because the first time I heard it, I had four grandchildren in the car, ages five to nine. All at once they started singing it. It was the first time I’d heard the song and I honestly thought they’d made it up. I was shocked and that only added to the backseat giggles.     
Samantha Chase:      “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey
Rosanne Bittner:       My favorite Christmas song is “White Christmas.”
Terry Spear:              “Carol of the Bells” It's like listening to angels' music. It always makes me feel good.

What’s the best bookish holiday gift that’s not a book?
Kim Redford:            Throw a Holiday Book Exchange Party!You provide the comfy location in your home with tasty treats, delicious drinks, and cute little gifts like bookmarks. Your friends bring books they’ve read, loved, and want to exchange. What could be better for the holidays than reading books, talking books, and sharing books?
Linda Broday:           I love buying those collections of tea for all my author friends. Also, a variety of popcorn works nicely as well as warm booties or throws.
Lucy Gilmore:           My family excels at giving me bookish gifts that aren’t books, mostly because they know that books are my life and they can’t possibly keep track of everything I’ve read. My favorites are the alcohol-themed ones. I’ve gotten Writer’s Tears whiskey, Harlequin Romance wine, the Tequila Mockingbird cocktail book, and various literary wine stoppers. Books + booze = a win!
Samantha Chase:      Oh, there are so many, but something that I’ve seen that I love, are Christmas ornaments that are made from pages of a favorite book or even miniatures of a beloved book cover!
Terry Spear:              A friend sent me a waterproof writing pad I could use when I have those miraculous scene ideas in the shower. lol

Do you have a go-to stocking stuffer?
Amy Sandas:             I always put gift cards to Barnes & Noble in my kids' stockings. Then we go to the store together to pick out new books.
Rosanne Bittner:       This isn’t my favorite stocking-stuffer, but rather, it’s my GRANDSONS’ favorite stocking stuffer – MONEY! They are all in their teens, so no more toys and candy canes! They want that green stuff so they can buy gasoline. All 3 of them are now driving!
Terry Spear:              Candy. Unfortunately, I don't have a fireplace, the only thing I regretted about not having in the house I bought. I worried that Santa would be able to come when I don't have one. I love decorating a mantle. It's part of Christmas. Plus, they're great if your electricity goes out in winter. But the advantage is that I can stuff all kinds of chocolate treats in stockings. No heat to melt them!

If you could travel anywhere this winter, where would you go?
Anna Schmidt:          Denmark…mostly because my next book is set there.
Jennie Marts:           My dream trip would be to go somewhere warm to a gorgeous beach and stay in one of those luxury bungalows out over the water and spend the days swimming, snorkeling, and reading.
June Faver:               I’ve spent a lot of time at the Texas coast, so I am quite familiar with the term “Snow Birds.” These are people who live up north and become “Winter Texans.” Anyplace from Corpus Christi to South Padre Island, where there is a beautiful beach and gentle waves. I also love Mexican coastal areas. My freckles need sunshine and I need waves frizzling out over my bare feet as I walk along, looking for sand dollars.
Rosanne Bittner:       Hubby and I have been going to Nevada every winter for about 20 years now. We stay 2-3 months. We always stayed in our condo in Vegas, but we’ve sold that and this year we will go to Laughlin, NV, which is right on the beautiful Colorado River across from Arizona. My vacations are ALWAYS somewhere in America’s Great West. It’s what I love and almost the only thing I write about!
Terry Spear:              Scotland. I love Scotland. I've traveled there in September and October, but I wouldn't mind going there any time of the year. But I'd love to just stay there for a month and soak up the Scottish beauty and write.

What’s your go-to drink in the winter?
Amy Sandas:             I love egg nog with a bit of rum or homemade Irish cream, but I also made a batch of hot-buttered rum one year. Sooo rich! 
Anna Schmidt:          Winter/spring/summer/fall = COFFEE
June Faver:               I seem to always be watching my weight, but I cannot resist getting a carton of egg nog in the winter. It’s so rich and flavorful. I know it loves me as much as I love it. It’s like a hug in a cup.
Linda Broday:           Without a doubt, it’s hot apple cider. When I still at home, my dad would load us all up each October and we’d head for the mountains that was a day’s drive from where we lived. They’d be fruit stands set up all along the highway and we’d stop. Before the day was done, we’d have a carload of apples. My daddy would make the best apple cider and mom, her apple cake. The house would fill with the fragrance of apples and I’d lie in bed, taking deep breaths, feeling so loved. I did it with my kids and my heart returns to that treasured time when I smell apples.
Lucy Gilmore:           I have a weirdly specific answer to this: maple tea from the Metropolitan Tea Company. A friend brought a box back to me after a trip to Canada a few years ago, and I’ve been hooked ever since. It’s warm and a little bit sweet and makes even the darkest winter days seem cozy.
Rosanne Bittner:       My “go-to” drink in winter is Eggnog. I have to be careful not to drink too much of it because it’s so fattening, as are most holiday treats!
Terry Spear:              Peppermint mocha, though I have to admit Starbucks now has it year-round, yay! So I get to feel like it's Christmas any time I want to get one during the year.


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