5-Star Review of "A Texas Christmas"

Review of A Texas Christmas:  Six Romances from the Historic Lone Star State Herald the Season of Love

by Ramona K. Cecil, Lena Nelson Dooley, Darlene Franklin, Pamela Griffin, Cathy Marie Hake, Kathleen Y'Barbo


Spend Christmas in the Old West with six unconventional women who take on Texas-sized challenges—and unexpected romance. Bridget falls for a man opposed to her teaching Indian orphans. Polly is trying to hold her family together when her childhood love returns to town. Rugged rancher Charlsey is inexplicably attracted to a tenderfoot accountant. Vivian shuns marriage until meeting a nomadic photographer. Lacey’s cooking draws a quiet blacksmith out of his shell. Tracker Bessie Mae helps a ranger hunt down a villain.

MY REVIEW of Here Cooks the Bride by Cathy Marie Hake:   Set in Cut Corners,  Texas in 1870, Lacey leaves her finishing school in Boston to travel to Cut Corners, Texas to assist her only living older relative, Aunt Millie, run her cafe when she has an injury to her arm that prevents her from cooking and running the cafe.  The entire town is thrilled that Lacey has come to stay for a while as Aunt Millie is noted for her horrific cooking!!!   All the town bachelors propose marriage to her too, but she only has eyes for one bachelor and he hasn't proposed yet.  
      This is a really cute novella as Aunt Millie provides a great deal of comedic relief.   This is a quick and sweet story that will have readers salivating at Lacey's delightful recipes and cringing at Aunt Millie's.   Readers will enjoy seeing who wins the prize of lacey's hand in marriage.   5-Star rating

MY REVIEW of A Christmas Chronicle by Pamela Griffin, also set in Cut Corners, Texas, in 1881, the story picks up where Here Cooks the Bride left off and the older town's bachelors are still at their matchmaking.  This time, old Stone Creedon has his mind set on fixing clumsy storekeeper, Vivian, up with his nephew, Travis, who is a chronicler of the West for a fancy magazine in the East.  He will be stopping in Cut Corners, Texas, for a few weeks as he heads west with his cameras to chronicle the sights and scenes.  Travis agrees to take Vivian to the local dance if his Uncle Stone will take the widow Chamberlain, who runs the boardinghouse he lives in.  
      This is another wonderful Christmas novella as readers will enjoy the matchmaking mishaps.  The town is becoming known for its Christmas proposals and weddings and now everyone is wondering who will be saying "I do" this Christmas in Cut Corners.  It was very interesting to read about the method of taking pictures in 1881 as well. I really appreciated the continuity of this novella with the one preceding it.  I wish all the novellas in the collection would continue with the story of the characters introduced in the first one set in Cut Corners.  I rate this one 5-stars also.   

MY REVIEW of To Hear Angels Sing by Ramona Cecil, set in Pinewood, Texas, 1883, Seth Krueger is angry with God for allowing "savages" to kill his father and kidnap his mother and sister.   Bridget has come from Chicago to teach the Comanche children of the orphanage established by the local Woman's Missionary Union.   Bridget falls for Seth but does not wish to marry a man who would be "unequally yoked" with her Christian beliefs.   Seth is irked by Bridget and old wood-carver, Gabe's constant talk of God, but he is also quite taken with the beautiful Bridget.   
       This is another quick read and one that will cause hearts to sing.  This one breaks the continuity though of the story of the characters in Cut Corners and it causes me to mix up the characters and stories as I read.    I enjoyed the length of the novellas though as I like short ones. I rate this one 5 stars as well.  

MY REVIEW of The Face of Mary by Darlene Franklin, set in Breading, Texas, 1880, Polly (also known as Mary) cares for her father and siblings and her father seems to be suffering from memory problems which may well affect his ability to perform his job at the local bank.   Joey Carpenter, Polly's best friend, Jean's brother, has returned in time for the holidays from law school.  Years ago, before leaving town for law school, he said that he would someday marry Polly.  He was certainly joking though and would never look twice at a poor young girl who is saddled with the care of her family.  He is escorting Alice, the pretty daughter of the town's bank owner.  Polly and Joey both agree to help the children to prepare the Christmas church pageant.  Alice volunteers her services as well but does not contribute a great deal of help.  The local woodcarver asks Joey to paint the faces on the nativity set he has carved for the church but Joey needs inspiration for Mary's face. 
         When things escalate with Polly's fathers' memory issues and he finds himself in serious trouble with the law, Joey agrees to represent him as his lawyer.  What will happen to Polly and her siblings?  Will Joey be able to save her father?   Life seems impossible at the moment but God has a plan.    This story does have some connection to the previous story as Gabe, the woodcarver, is in both.   I think this novella is my very favorite of all the ones in this collection.  It has a beautiful lesson for all of us to learn.   Though the author never states it, the memory issues that Polly's father experiences seem to resemble today's alzheimer's or dementia but those were not diagnosed in the 1880's.   I rate this one 5 stars and would love to read more about the character's future lives.   

MY REVIEW of Charlsey's Accountant by Lena Nelson Dooley, set in Horsefly, Texas, in 1890, Harold Miller travels by train from Boston to Texas to purchase some cattle from his father's old friend, Frank Ames.    Frank has four beautiful young daughters and Charlsey is her father's best cattle brander.   Charlsey may be able to hang with the men on the ranch but she is every bit a lady as she dresses for the evening meals with Harold Miller, her father, and sisters.  Charlsey and Harold begin to discover they share a lot in common when they are left alone one evening to talk.  When Harold comes to live on their ranch to learn the business of ranching, he doesn't even recognize Charlsey when she is dressed like the men branding the cattle and that causes a great deal of confusion and leads to a huge problem.  Will Charlsey and Harold work out their differences or will this ruin the good relationship between the two old friends?   
        This novella has a lot of information about ranching and horses which did not appeal to me at first but I quickly became interested in the characters and wanted to see how issues would be resolved.   I only rode a horse one time in my life and it scared me a bit and I think that affects me as I read about riding horses as it triggers those memories for me.   I was able to overcome this as I read though.   I rate this novella 5 stars also.  

MY REVIEW of Plain Trouble by Kathleen Y'Barbo, set in Horsefly, Texas, in 1893, Texas Ranger, Joe Mueller returns to his hometown to catch a murderer.   He never wanted to return to Horsefly, Texas, and he recalls how he gave poor little Bess Ames a cruel nickname when he told everyone that she was as plain as day.   He doesn't think it warrants an apology though as he feels sure the girl has now married.  But he meets Bess again as he and Frank work to find Pale Indian, the murderer.   Bess steals remembers being called plain by him and she has not married but instead cares for her father.   Her father has started eating an awful lot of meals with the neighbor widow, Ida Vonheim, and helping her fix things on her home.   Frank and Joe devise a plan for explaining to folks why he is in town so long....he will pretend to be trying to convince Bess to become his wife.  
          This novella features the same Texas rancher, Frank Ames, and his youngest daughter, Bess, that were also featured in the previous novella.   Bess has definitely not forgotten when he labeled and branded her as plain.   Joe is going to have to really work to win her trust.    Will he be able to overcome the painful memories she holds of the past or will he leave town alone with no bride?    I rated this one 5 stars as well.   
OVERALL REVIEW of collection:  5 stars.....very quick and easy-to-read, this collection is sure to be a hit among lovers of historical romance.  I received a free ecopy of this book from netgalley in exchange for my honest review.

About the Authors:
Lena Nelson Dooley is an award-winning author who has had more than 800,000 copies of her books sold.  She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and the local chapter, ACFW-DFW.   She's a member of Chrisitan Author's Network and Gateway Church in Southlake,  Texas.    She has been on both the CBA Bestseller list and several Amazon bestseller lists.  Her 2010 release Love Finds You in Golden, New Mexico, from Summerside press, won the 2011 Will Rogers Medallion Award for excellence in publishing Western Fiction.    

Lena Nelson Dooley

Award-winning author and speaker Darlene Franklin lives in cowboy country—Oklahoma and loves writing about the American West. Oklahoma also has the benefit of being the home to her son, his wife, and their four beautiful children. Darlene loves music, needlework, reading and reality tv. Talia, a Lynx point Siamese cat, proudly claims Darlene as her person. Darlene is the author of seventeen contracted books and novellas, as well as several hundred short pieces. Two of her books have finaled in ACFW’s Book of the Year (now the Carol award) contest: her novella, Dressed in Scarlet, and her cozy mystery, A String of Murders.

Kathleen Y'Barbo:
Kathleen Y'Barbo

While wearing her publicist’s hat, Kathleen has secured interviews with radio, television, and print media for clients at NavPress, Hatchette, Integrity, Barbour Publishing, and Broadman & Holman, to name a few. She also brings her own unique blend of Southern charm and witty prose to the more than 350,000 award-winning novels and novellas currently in print. Her novels have been nominated for American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006; and 2007 will see the release of her 25th book.

Kathleen is a tenth-generation Texan and a mother of three grown sons and a teenage daughter. She is a graduate of Texas A&M University. Kathleen is a former treasurer for the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is a member of the Author’s Guild, Inspirational Writers Alive, Words for the Journey Christian Writers Guild, and the Fellowship of Christian Authors. In addition, she is a sought-after speaker, and her kids think she’s a pretty cool mom, too…most of the time, anyway.

Cathy Marie Hake is a Southern California native.  She met her two loves at church:  Jesus and her husband, Christopher.  An RN, she loved working in oncology as well as teaching Lamaze.  Health issues forced her to retire, but God opened new possibilities with writing.  Since their children have moved out and are married, Cathy and Chris dote on dogs they rescue from a local shelter.   A sentimental pack rat, Cathy enjoys scrapbooking and collecting antiques.  "I'm easily distracted during prayer, so I devote certain tasks and chores to specific requests or persons so I can keep faithful in my prayer life.:  Since her first book in 2000, she's been on multiple best-seller and readers' favorite lists.  

Pamela Griffin lives in Texas with her family.  She fully gave her life to Christ in 1988 after a rebellious young adulthood and owes the fact that she's still alive today to an all-loving and forgiving God and to a mother who steadfastly prayed and had faith that God could bring her wayward daughter "home."   Pamela's main goal in writing Christian romance is to help and encourage those who do know the Lord and to plant a seed of hope in those who don't.

Ramona Cecil is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance poet, and award-winning inspirational romance writer.  Now empty nesters, she and her husband make their home in Indiana.  A member of American Christian Fiction Writers and American Christian Fiction Writers Indiana Chapter, her work has won awards in a number of inspirational writing contests.   Over eighty of her inspirational verses have been published on a wide array of items for the Christian gift market.   She enjoys a speaking ministry, sharing her journey to publication while encouraging aspiring writerds.  When not writing, her hobbies include reading, gardening, and visiting places of historidcal interest.


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