"This was joy. This was how the crucibles of life could be endured and the aches of life diminished."
Christmas is a time for miracles. Sometimes those miracles occur in our own families and at times we unknowingly provide a miracle for others. The stories in this anthology focus on miracles of all types and how the Christmas season seems to bring an abundance of them.
thoughts & feelings
This anthology started off with "Lord Blakely's Gift" by Anneka R. Walker. I began this book while waiting in the doctors office and I'm sure that anyone else in that waiting room could see my confusion. "Ivy? Alice? I know those names...Julia! Ah it's Miss Julia Hunt!" Thank heavens my husband was sitting next to me so that I had someone to explain to. I had discovered that Healing Hearts for Christmas was the second book in a series, AND I had just discovered the first! Yay for surprise series discoveries! Ivy's story is just as amazing as Julia's, although I do secretly love Julia's story slightly more. My favorite part of this story was the change that we see in Lord Curtis Blakely. He is a rather quiet man and we learn from his former nurse that even as a child he was rather shy. A quest to find the owner of a purse leads him to the homes of tenants he hasn't visited in years.
With a little encouragement he is able to tuck his shyness away and extend a helping hand to those in need.
A Season of Hope, by Sian Ann Bessey, might be my favorite of the anthology. This was my first time reading a book written by Sian Ann Bessey. Okay, I guess I should clarify that one a little bit, it's my first book written only by her. I first discovered Sian Ann Bessey when I read Heirs of Falcon Point. A Season of Hope made me want take back every bad thing I have ever said about anthologies. I even told my sister, immediately after finishing it, that she needed to just read this one book today so we could talk about it. Despite the story being a novella it gave me all the feels. I was quickly attached to the characters and what life had thrown at them. I laughed, cried, had my heart broken, and then put back together all within seventy-two pages. To be honest, I returned to the book several times, before finishing the entire anthology, to reread my favorite parts.
The third novella in this anthology is Christmas by the Sea by Carla Kelly. I hate to say it but this is my least favorite of the set. Christmas by the Sea is a story about a married couple and their three children. This Christmas season brings them all together for the first time in two years. However, some hardships are dealt to them, thanks to our main mans siblings. This is a good story about a family working together to overcome trials and bring joy to others during the Christmas season. Overall, I was left wanting a little more from the characters and story line. I was very curious about what other people had to say about this anthology and novella. Apparently my opinion is a bit unpopular. On Goodreads Kelly's novella was given good reviews and seemed to be a favorite amongst readers.
Our last novella Expectations at Canterwood, by Krista Lynne Jensen, is a sequel of sorts to the novella Christmas at Canterwood. It's always fun to revisit families a few years down the line and see where they end up. This novella focuses on Richard Stanhope who is away at war during the first story. Richard is the childhood best friend of Tom, the vicar, and is the uncle of the three Stanhope children we meet in Christmas at Canterwood. I absolutely loved this novella and am hoping to stumble across another Canterwood novella at some point. I think my favorite part of this novella is having the perspective switch. I loved "getting inside" both the main man and leading lady's minds and seeing the story unfold in this way.
Steam Level: clean, kissing
Trigger Warnings: discussion about the loss of an immediate family member, discussion of war and war injuries,
Title: Lord Blakely's Gift
Series: Ivy's story is book one of this series. You can find Julia's story, Healing Hearts for the Holidays, in the anthology Meet Me Under the Mistletoe. Novella three will release in 2022.
Author: Anneka R. Walker
Title: A Season of Hope
Author: Sian Ann Bessey
Rating: 5/5 (I'd really like to give it a 10/5 it was AMAZING)
Title: Christmas By the Sea
Author: Carla Kelly
Title: Expectations at Canterwood
Series: You can find book one, Christmas at Canterwood, in the anthology Christmas Grace.
Author: Krista Lynne Jensen