We have another free week on Four Foxes, One Hound so I thought I’d share my Christmas stories. I love the holidays and I’ve managed to publish a new Christmas story every year since 2011. If you’re in the mood for some holiday reading I’d be thrilled if you picked up one of these books! If any of these interests you, just click on the book cover to find out where you can purchase it.
The Christmas Phoenix was my very first Christmas story. It was released in November 2011 by Astraea Press (now known as Clean Reads). It’s set in Michigan, about three hours north of where I live. Winters in Michigan can be brutal, especially along the lakeshore. Snowplow drivers work long and hard. I thought it would be fun to feature a female driver and was thrilled by the result! Here’s the blurb:
Jess Tate is trying to make a life for herself and her teenage son after her husband’s sudden death. Running the family’s struggling landscape business in Northern Michigan has been hard work, and her son hasn’t been much help. She’s managed to get by, learning to run the big equipment herself, but between snowplowing early in the mornings and working her daytime job in town, she often wonders if there will ever be more to life than endless work.
Talented ice sculptor Jake Thompson had fame and fortune in St. Louis, but he’s been forced to start over after a disastrous relationship left him embittered and deeply in debt. His sister’s remote vacation home in Northern Michigan is the ideal retreat to lick his wounds and rebuild his career in peace and quiet—except a certain feisty redhead and her teenage son have a penchant for disturbing his solitude.
In the snowy winter, Jake and Jess unexpectedly find their lives and attitudes begin to change. Will family involvements and ghosts from the past keep them apart, or are they strong enough to risk rising from the ashes of their lives like the mythical phoenix?
The Partridge and the Peartree was written in 2012 in response to a callout for Christmas regencies set in 1812. The story had to include a duke and it had to have a scene at the Christmas Eve ball at the home of Lord and Lady Kringle. I’d never written a regency but loved to read them so I decided to give it a try. I’d written a bunch of disjointed scenes and nearly gave up, but my friend Stephanie Michels read it and helped me stitch them together. I love the result! Here’s what it’s about:
Phillip Peartree, Duke of Bartlett, dreamed of a peaceful life with a suitable mate until a hunting accident left him scarred and nearly deaf. Resigned to spending the rest of his days alone, Phillip has devoted himself to rebuilding his family estate. But a chance encounter with a lovely young woman in a dusty bookstore rekindles his almost-forgotten hopes and dreams.
Lady Amelia Partridge has no time for the frivolity of the London social scene. In addition to her work with the Ladies Literary Society, she has a mission – educating poor children in the city. She also has a secret life, one she fears might drive away the young duke who has become increasingly important to her.
Christmas Wishes is a nod to the area in West Michigan where I live. Along the highway between Holland and Grand Rapids are several small towns named after Dutch communities. When my daughters were young I directed several Christmas pageants, so the character Sophie had a special place in my heart. Here’s the scoop on this book:
Photographer Mitch Carson is tired of big city life. He just wants to settle down in a quiet town with his daughter, Angie. Even that doesn’t quell his fear of losing his daughter to his scheming mother-in-law.
Sophie Gardner wants to be a screenwriter. She’s ready to leave small-town Zutphen, Michigan, and go to Hollywood. With a theater degree under her belt, she’s busy writing scripts while helping out her sister Joanie, who’s bedridden with a difficult pregnancy. Unfortunately, Joanie has somehow coerced Sophie into directing the Christmas pageant at Zutphen Community Church.
When Sophie and Mitch meet, the attraction is instant and mutual. But each wants what the other is trying to get away from. Can they deny their feelings and pursue their dreams? Or will the holiday prove to them that their true wishes might not be what they’d thought?
Christmas Journey is a sequel to Christmas Wishes. This time I focused on Helen, the character who leads the older children in the church’s Christmas pageant. It was fun to write about a more mature couple, and readers seem to enjoy it, too. Here’s what happens:
Helen DeGroot is a widow, a mother, and grandmother. Her quiet life in Zutphen includes her children, grandchildren, and church committee work. She can’t shake the feeling that life has something else in store for her. But finances are tight, and her grown sons always seem to need her help.
Mike Sikkema has a high-powered job at a travel magazine. He’s never had time for settling down with a family. But when his brother tells him about their mother’s health problems, he drops everything and heads to Zutphen, Michigan to help out. Apartments are scarce in the small town, so he rents a room from an attractive widow in his brother’s congregation.
The road to self-discovery and happiness can be long and painful. Can these two help each other navigate the journey?
Two Tutor Doves took me back to regency England, with the story taking place a year or two after The Partridge and the Peartree. This time I focused on two of the servants. Finding information about the people who “lived downstairs” was really difficult – there’s not as much material readily available about their lives. Fortunately, English author Sherry Gloag was very helpful.
Robert Townley prides himself as an efficient and indispensible valet to Phillip, Duke of Bartlett. But when Robert is coerced into teaching the poor children at the duchess’ chapel school, he’s out of his element. Thankfully, he has assistance from some of the other servants, including the prickly Miss Brown.
Jeanne Brown is lady’s maid to the Duchess of Bartlett. She loves working with the children but can’t abide Robert’s lofty attitude toward them. She’d love to put him in his place — but she needs her job.
When the duchess decides to hold the school’s Christmas party in her home, Robert and Jeanne must put aside their differences and work together to ensure that the holiday celebration goes off without a hitch. Will they be able to endure the partnership, or will their sparks ignite something more?
Happy Holiday reading!