Monday, December 11, 2023

Books: Christmas Stories That Will Warm Your Heart

Christmas is just around the corner, and there are five books that are sure to warm your heart at this magical time, perfect to read on a cold night curled up by the tree: Christmas at Corgi Cove, by Annie England Noblin; Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop, by Jenny Colgan; One Christmas Morning, by Rachel Greenlaw; The Twelve Dogs of Christmas, by Susan Wiggs; The Christmas Brides of Twilight, by Lori Wilde; A Christmas to Remember, by Beverly Jenkins; and A Wish for Christmas, by Courtney Cole.

Christmas at Corgi Cove 

By Annie England Noblin

Avon; paperback, 352 pages; $18.99

Annie England Noblin is known for her Christmas-themed novels, including Christmas in Blue Dog Valley and Pupcakes. teaches English and communications for Arkansas State University, and she spends her free time playing make-believe, feeding stray cats, and working with animal shelters across the country to save homeless dogs.

Christmas at Corgi Cove is Noblin's new novel, and this sweet and sassy story centers on Rosie Reynolds, who has come to lakeside Corgi Cove as a lost, lonely girl abandoned by her own mother, but she discovers a true place to call home.

Rosie loves her Corgis, Bonnie and Clyde; the lakeside life, and most of all, her aunt and uncle. When she discovers their struggling inn is about to be bought out by some big-city chain, Rosie hatches a plan: to win a contest naming theirs the best Christmas-themed inn in the United States. It's a long shot, but she knows if the whole town pulls together, it can be done.

The thing Rosie didn't count on is Everett St Claire, who emerged from his gleaming, black BMW, straightening his tie and asking how a big-city guy like himself found his way in a speck on the map like Corgi Cove. Everett wondered how soon it would take him to get back to the city, and after all, it couldn't be that difficult to convince one elderly couple to take the money to retire.

Everett didn't count on getting sucked into life on the lake. Sure, the people might be...eccentric, and Rosie could be a pain in the neck, but there is something alluring about Corgi Cove. With the holidays approaching and the deadline looming, Rosie and Everett are about to discover the magic of Christmas in this small town.

Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop

By Jenny Colgan

Avon; paperback, 320 pages; $18.99

Jenny Colgan, who lives in a genuine castle in Scotland with her husband and three children, is a New York Times bestselling author of numerous novels, including The Bookshop on the Corner, Little Beach Street BakeryChristmas in the Cupcake Cafe, and The Christmas Bookshop, whose sequel, Midnight at the Christmas Bookshop is Colgan's newest book on the holiday season.

Christmas has arrived early to McCredie's little Old Town bookshop in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is summer, but an American production company has decided to make McCredie's the location to film a cheesy Christmas movie.

After all, who can resist the charmingly narrow historic street with its Victorian grey stone buildings and warmly-lit shop windows? 

Carmen Hogan is the bookshop's manager, and she is amused and a bit horrified by the goings-on, but the money the studio is paying is too good to pass up. She takes the money from filming to create new displays and fend off a buyout offer from an obnoxious millionaire looking to turn McCredie's into a basic souvenir shop. 

Still reeling slightly from a breakup, Carmen is not particularly looking forward to the holidays, but as the snow begins to come down and the lights of Christmas blink on, she is presented by many lovely possibilities, both for herself and the bookstore.

One Christmas Morning 

By Rachel Greenlaw

Avon; paperback, 336 pages; $18.99

Rachel Greenlaw grew up in North Cornwall, surrounded by wild moorland. She studied English with creative writing at Falmouth University before moving to an island in the middle of the Atlantic, where she resides with her husband and two children. 

One Christmas Morning is Greenlaw's first novel, and it has a thoughtful nod to Charles Dicken, known for A Christmas Carol within this heartwarming novel about a woman's self-discovery, the strength found in friendship, and the promise of second chances.

Eva has spent the past three weeks burying herself in her work, trying to forget the heartbreaking events of the Christmas that ripped her world apart. This year, the last thing she wants to do is attend her friend's weekend-long Christmas party, but her husband James insisted they go, so here they are.

When Eva, wracked by bittersweet memories, tries to sneak back to London in the middle of the night, she is visited by the ghost of her beloved grandmother. Gran tells Eva that is she doesn't confront her fears and stop shutting out her loved ones, she risks losing them all forever.

On Christmas morning, Eva wakes up and finds herself living the life of her hardworking assistant, Diana, whose overflowing inbox isn't the only secret she's been keeping. The next day, she wakes up on Christmas morning again, but this time in the body of her best friend's little sister. 

As Eva lives the same day again and again through the perspectives of her friends, she is offered a glimpse into the lives of those she has been pushing away. With each Christmas Day she receives a new lesson and an insight into the secrets and struggles her loved ones have been hiding. To move forward, Eva must let go of the past, but is it too late to fix the future?

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas

By Susan Wiggs

William Morrow; hardcover, 256 pages; $25.99

Susan Wiggs is known for writing stories that illuminate the everyday dreams of ordinary people facing extraordinary circumstances. Her books celebrate the power of love, the timeless bonds of family and the fascinating nuances of human nature. Her novels have been #1 New York Times bestsellers, and is a three-time winner of the RITA Award. Her recent novel, The Apple Orchard, is currently being developed into a film, and The Lakeshore Chronicles has been optioned to be adapted into a series.

The Twelve Dogs of Christmas is a story about a Christmas transport of rescue puppies, a smart and winning heroine finding her destiny, and even a little winter romance.

Brenda Malloy wants nothing to do with Christmas, after she and her husband had to rush their beloved dog Tim to the emergency room the year before. The good news was that Tim survived after the vet cleared the obstruction, but the bad news was that the undies were not Brenda's.

A year after the breakup, Brenda has rebuilt her life, as she has completed a triathlon, is writing a middle grade novel, and found purpose and healing volunteering with a dog rescue organization, as she fosters strays in her home near Houston, Texas. 

The rescue partners with a program in Avalon, New York, a small snowy town deep in the Catskills. Brenda is now arranging the transport of rescued dogs from Houston to Avalon, just in time for a merry Christmas with their forever families. Brenda's friends worry about her driving a van two thousand miles with twelve dogs in crates, but she shrugs off their concern. 

A blinding snowstorm, an escaped mutt, and a life-saving encounter with Adam Bellamy, a single dad and a paramedic, means Brenda has to stay in Avalon longer than she planned. As each precious pup is dropped off at their new homes, Brenda, despite her determination to avoid the holidays, is discovering the comfort and joy of the season.

The Christmas Brides of Twilight 

By Lori Wilde

Avon; paperback, 368 pages; $9.99

Lori Wilde is a registered nurse with a BSN from Texas Christian University, who holds a certificate in forensics and is a certified yoga instructor. She also is a prolific bestselling author of 87 works of romance fiction, and has been a three-time Romance Writers of America RITA finalist, in addition to four nominations for a Romantic Times Readers' Choice Award. 

The Christmas Brides of Twilight is a part of Wilde's delightful Twilight, Texas, series. A reality TV show producer returns to her hometown of Twilight in this story about lovers reuniting that's filled with the spirit of the season.

She was the one who got away, while he was the one who decided to stay. 

Noelle Curry is back in Twilight to promote the most spectacular double wedding the town has ever seen, and it will be on national television. Curry is known as "The Wedding Whisperer," and she is knocked speechless when she notices her teenage crush, Gil Thomas, about to plunge into icy cold water wearing nothing more than a pair of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer swim trunks while he partakes in the annual polar bear plunge.

Gil doesn't regret giving up his dreams of big-city singing stardom for small-town life. When he sees Noelle, who has blossomed from a once-gawky teenager into a West Coast beauty, he thinks of days and nights a lot hotter than this icy plunge he is set to take. 

Gil knows she will be heading out as soon as her work is done, but he's hoping that the magic of Christmas in Twilight will make her change her mind and stay by his side in their hometown forever.

A Christmas to Remember 

By Beverly Jenkins

Avon; paperback, 304 pages; $18.99

Beverly Jenkins has been nominated for the NAACP Image Award in Literature, and since the publication of Night Song in 1994, she has been leading the charge for inclusive romance. Her Blessings series will be turned into a television series called "Hopetown" by Al Roker Entertainment, the eponymous production company of the "Today" show host; which has partnered with Brave Road Entertainment and Vast Entertainment.

Jenkins' new book, A Christmas to Remember, is part of the Blessings series, set once again in Henry Adams, Kansas. 

Ever since Bernadine Brown bought the town of Henry Adams, the relationship she has had with diner owner Malachi "Mal" July has had its share of ups and downs, but now they're ready to say "I do" - or are they?

As wedding preparations are in full swing, with families both local and extended beginning to gather for the festivities, that long-awaited walk down the aisle hits a speed bump that may derail everything. Mal and Bernadine's relationship isn't the only one being tested.

Preston Mays, known as Brian, loves his girlfriend as much as he does physics, but his heart is broken when she decides being a couple is no longer a good thing. Will connecting with his biological dad's family ease his pain?

Reverend Paula Grant has been waiting patiently for God to send her someone to share her life, and when the town's charming new chef arrives in town, she wonders if he could be the one. The former Mayor, Riley Curry, is also throwing a parade with his hog Cletus, proving there's a lot going on in Henry Adams, making this a Christmas to remember.

A Wish for Christmas

By Courtney Cole

Avon; paperback, 368 pages; $18.99

Courtney Cole is the New York Times bestselling author of edgy romances, as well as The Christmas Dress and Home for Christmas. Her heartwarming holiday stories are known for having a little bit of heat and cheer.

A Wish for Christmas is Cole's newest novel for the holiday season. It is two weeks before Christmas, and Noel Blake is not in a great place. After several years of marriage, she and her husband Jonah are quietly drifting apart. The only time they really talk to each other is while walking their dog, Elliott, and even that usually ends in bickering.

One snowy day, Elliott manages to slip out of his leash, and Noel and Jonah find him blocks away in the care of a mysterious old man who asks them to make a wish on an old snow globe. Eager to get their dog home safely, they agree to a strange request he made. 

Neither of them realize that they wish they are about to make will change the course of their lives, possibly forever. When Noel and Jonah wake up the next morning, they are in separate beds, separate apartments, separate lives, but are they any happier? 

As they live the existences they always wished for, both feel that something very important is missing. When a chance encounter brings the pair back together, they find they have a spark of something very special. Will they be able to find their way back to each other before it's too late, or does the Christmas Magic have another fate in store?

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