About the Book
Book: Keeping Christmas Volume 1
Authors: Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Olivia Talbott, Kathleen J. Robison, Denise L. Barela, Marguerite Martin Gray, and Naomi Craig.
Genre: Christian Christmas Romance
Release date: October 4, 2022
In castles far and near, long ago and yesterday, find happily-ever-afters wrapped in love and tied with Christmas joy.
The Lights of Castlebourne (by Cathe Swanson and Chautona Havig): He bowled her over at first sight–his dog, that is. Sydney just wanted a chance to do the landscape design at Castlebourne. She never dreamed the owner’s electrician would light up her heart at Christmas.
The Girl From Dalarna (by Olivia Talbott): She’s the most beautiful woman in Sweden, but she doesn’t want to be. A simple life among milk cows is all she desires. Will a scandal upend her plans and ruin her chances for love?
The Cross at Morioka Castle (by Kathleen J. Robison): In the ancient land of shoji screens and tatami mats, Ariko finds the stone ruins of Morioka Castle, and the mysterious cross that holds the secret of a Christian faith extending far deeper than Ariko ever imagined.
The Ghost of Christmas… (by Denise L. Barela): Abbigayl needs to get away for Christmas this year. No family, no questions about why she’s still single, no suggestion about being set up with someone’s friend. What will happen when Neuschwanstein Castle’s past converges with Abbigayl’s future?
Crystal Clear (by Marguerite Martin Gray): Rosalind’s muddied past and foggy future crystalize in Château Chenonceau, a refuge from gossip and more. Watch as the château and Christmas work their magic and break the bonds of propriety, and rejoice as Rosalind experiences the crystal-clear hints of peace, joy, and hope all around her.
The Weary World Rejoices (by Naomi Craig): Behind the elaborate furnishings of Herod the Great’s palace, conspiracy and distrust run rampant. Mysterious visitors from the east challenge everything Amal thinks he knows as palace scribe. Will his quest to uncover the Truth free him from the ornate shackles of palace life, or will he be the next victim of King Herod’s maniacal jealousy?
Grab a mug of something hot and delicious and curl up somewhere comfy. Your literary chariots await to take you on a journey from an early twentieth-century castle overlooking the Mississippi all the way back to the Holy Land at the time of Jesus’ birth. These six novellas, all set in castles real and fictional, celebrate the heart and joy of Christmas.
Click here to get your copy!
About the Authors
USA Today Bestselling author of Aggie and Past Forward series, Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
Cathe Swanson writes books with creative plots and engaging characters of all ages, to glorify God and entertain and bless readers. Her heartwarming stories will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.
Olivia Talbott grew up in Montana, but currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two daughters, a few sheep and a border collie. She loves words, traveling, pickles and having deep conversations about how Jesus changes everything. Visit her at oliviatalbott.com.
Kathleen J. Robison is an Okinawan-American, born in Okinawa, and raised in California, Florida, Mississippi, and Singapore. Her travels and her family are the sources of her inspiration for her books. Kathleen and her Pastor husband have eight adult children. Seven are married, blessing them with eighteen grandchildren and counting. Her ethnically diverse background extends to her family of currently thirty-five personalities which provide many opportunities to share God’s amazing love amidst the challenges of real life.
Denise L. Barela is a twenty-something-year-old writer with a passion for fiction, her faith, and just being creative in general. When she’s not working away at her desk, you might find her reading a good book or following Alice down the rabbit hole…
Marguerite Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband in north Louisiana. She writes historical fiction.
Author of Biblical fiction, avid reader, pastor’s wife, Naomi Craig loves reading the Bible and imagining how things were at the time. When she’s not serving in various areas at church, trying to stay on top of mountains of dishes or convincing her rescue dog, Freeway, to be cute on command for Instagram reels, you’ll most likely find her enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. Naomi co-hosts #BehindTheStory with Naomi and Lisa, an author interview show on YouTube and your podcast platform of choice.
More from Denise
I’m excited to share this set of stories with you! All the authors have worked hard to bring you some Christmas joy and magic. We’ve each picked a castle to center our stories around. I mean, Christmas and castles go well together, don’t you think? You’ll get to explore different castles in different time periods while also getting to know all the characters in each story. That’s a lot of new friends to make!
For my story, I jumped on the chance to write about a castle that inspired the castle that always brought me joy growing up (if I’m being honest, it still brings me joy). I’ve always been a huge Disney nerd, and Princess Aurora has always been my favorite Disney princess. Growing up, I was blessed to be able to visit Disneyland for most of my life, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle was my favorite thing (I was so sad when they closed the walk-through part for several years). Even without the attraction part of it, I loved walking into the park and seeing it stand at the end of Main Street. I actually teared up seeing it for the first time after Covid.
What does all this have to do with my castle story? Well, in 1869, King Ludwig II of Bavaria began construction on Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Let me tell you, if you thought Disneyland’s castle was beautiful, it’s got nothing on Neuschwanstein. If I were to pick a castle to live in, it’d be this one.
Setting aside the Disney connection, I was even more intrigued when I learned more about the king who commissioned it. The king was not very popular towards the end of his reign, and the day after he was sent to Berg Castle, he and a doctor were found dead in Lake Starnberg. The weird part? They ruled it a drowning, but there was no water in their lungs and clear signs of foul play.
Oh, but that’s not the only interesting fact this castle houses. This castle became a hiding place for some of the art the Nazi’s stole during World War II. Part of me wonders if any pieces are still hidden there. The Monuments Men group actually cataloged art found there, and it’s been preserved. Here’s a fun article from The Met all about it!
I hope you enjoyed learning about the castle that inspired my story!
I love reading anthologies because I get a variety with authors with their own gift of telling a story. Each one has a different way to reach readers and their imagination is always fun to explore. Come join the authors as they explore castles, Christmas and faith.
THE LIGHTS OF CASTLEBOURNE BY CHAUTONA HAVIG AND CATHE SWASON
A very easy story to read with wonderful characters. It was fun to read about this lonely castle that needed some TLC. Sydney is determined to get the landscaping job at Castlebourne. If she can just get past the overbearing dog that is running around and Philip who knows the owner she will have a job.
I loved reading how the castle was going to be used for a charitable cause for children. Philip can be pretty persuasive when he wants to impress Sydney. The lights are going up around the castle, and Philip and Sydney feel excited about the upcoming event. Their relationship is growing and each time they are away from each other their feelings grow stronger.
When a misunderstanding happens thanks to Sydney’s mother, Philip calls off their relationship. Sydney’s mother is quite the rude person and thinks she is some important person, but I have a feeling God is going to humble her.
The story is full of surprises, funny moments, misunderstandings and a Christmas wedding that brings two people together in a beautiful setting of a castle. I adored Arielle and Mark’s banter and hope to read more about them soon.
THE GIRL FROM DALARNA BY OLIVIA TALBOT
I could tell from the beginning of this story that it was going to be emotional. Linnea is a beautiful young lady who needs a job to help her family out. She is quite shy but I admired how she went out looking for work. As she stands outside the door the next day waiting to enter, I wondered what kind of job she had acquired. The man who hired her was very evasive and I know Linnea was praying she had made the right decision.
What a great relief to learn that she would be looking after cows. She is so excited and can now relax and enjoy her work. Holding the canisters of milk was no easy feat but Linnea proves how strong she is as she travels to town to deliver the milk to customers. Suddenly her job changes a bit and I felt like she was being paraded around because of her beauty. Linnea thinks nothing of her looks and does not like the attention of others.
As Linnea finds herself the center of attention at a ball she starts to question why she is here. The place is grand, the King and Queen are elegant as they announce that the Christmas Eve Julbord is beginning. I think Linnea knows she doesn’t belong here being stared out, admired and on display.
The story shows how easy it can be to fall into a trap when something enticing comes your way. Linnea knows that being paraded around for her beauty is wrong. She has to make things right in her heart with God. I loved the ending and how Linnea found that she was not judged by everyone. A special man has been looking out for her and this Christmas will be special for both of them. She knows her worth and feels that she has been given a new beginning.
THE CROSS AT MORIOKA CASTLE BY KATHLEEN J. ROBISON
I love the setting of this story where we find ourselves in Japan. Ariko has come here after losing her job in Los Angeles. With the holidays coming she is happy to be home . How exciting to wake up hearing carolers. I wanted to be there with Ariko to soak up the feeling of Christmas with her family.
Morioka Castle was everything Ariko hoped for as she glanced as it’s beauty. A cross gets her attention and also catches the eye of the stranger Ariko encountered last night. It was very interesting listening to Ariko and Kai talk about Christianity. Finding out about Ariko’s father made me sad. He became a Christian and his family was ashamed of him. Can Ariko stay in Japan knowing that she is a Christian as well? Will she shame her great grandmother?
This is a very powerful story about standing up for your beliefs. Ariko knows her great grandmother wants her to stay, but she must make a hard decision. She refuses to put “no other gods before Him.” We find out about the cross and the history behind it. Can you imagine having to hide that you were a Christian?
Get ready for a beautiful story about reconciliation, Japanese culture and finding your way back to God. Ariko never wavered from her faith and was able to help other family members know who God is. I loved finding out that the history of Morioka Castle is factual. I couldn’t believe that only 1%of Japanese people embrace Christianity. This has been a great story of Japanese culture, family and finding faith.
THE GHOST OF CHRISTMAS BY DENISE L. BARELA
It is not very often that I become so mesmerized by a story that I block out everything around me. One author has been able to do that to me twice now. With great expectation I am happy to give my thoughts on this charming story. Abbi is thrilled to be at the castle. It was what dreams are made of and now Abbi is here for the tenth-annual Christmases of the Past Celebration! Abbi should be enjoying herself yet she is allowing her mothers words to remind her of her weight. My heart went out to Abbi as I discovered the verbal abuse she has endured by her mother. Abbie’s self esteem is low and the hateful words her mother says has hurt her. She needs to find strength and overcome those words that cause her so much pain.
It is easy to identify with Abbi because she wants to be accepted and follow her dreams. The guilt her mother puts on her is sad and I wanted Abbi to find her way to where she is content and happy. As she begins to explore the castle all thoughts of her mother disappear. Abbi is like a kid in a candy store when before her are artifacts from World War I and II. The emotions she feels as she takes in everything is far more than anything she has ever experienced. I felt like I was beside her as she looks at photos of prisoners of War. One particular picture catches Abbi off guard. How could Kristen the man she has been speaking to in the castle be in one of these pictures from the War? Something is not making sense and I was now right beside Abbi as she waits for an explanation.
Abbi must now trust God that He will reveal what is going on in His own time. Now we have to be patient and see what happens next. Just to let everyone know I am not very patient so I wanted to tell Abbi to explore on her own. I will be right behind her with one eye looking over my shoulder at all times. Abbi encounters Kristian again and their discussion gets deep. I loved how the author reminds us that we are to love everyone. Oh I know it can be hard, but God sent His Son to die on the cross for each of us. Will Kristian understand what it means to forgive?
I loved the ending and how Abbi found that she was loved and had found someone who never judged her. She could be herself and enjoy the gift that God has given her. I really didn’t want the story to end and am thankful for the journey the author swept me away to. For a short time, I was celebrating Christmas with friends, and realized how much more I am than my parents said I would be.
CRYSTAL CLEAR BY MARGUERITE MARTIN GRAY
Rosalind is facing a change in her life. Her sister has caused an uproar in the palace and now Rosalind’s life may go in another direction. With the family’s reputation at stake Rosalind gets sound advice from a wise woman. “The only thing that matters is what the good Lord thinks.” Oh how I want to remember that sentence when I worry what others think of me.
With a decision made for Rosalind, she will travel to France to stay at a chateau with a friend of the Queen. This could be just what Rosalind needs to get away from gossip about her family. The scenery before her is too much not to enjoy. I can’t blame her for wanting to walk the rest of the way. Now she can take in the smells, the landscape and everything that awaits her just ahead.
I loved how Rosalind took to her new surroundings. She now is helping to decorate the chateau with beautiful Christmas trees in each room. I could see the ornaments as she placed them in strategic places in each tree. The author does a great job of making the trees so vivid that I could see them sparkling as ornaments began to bring life to its surroundings.
Luc is very intriguing to me. He is a much needed distraction for Rosalind and his presence seems to calm her. She begins to have more confidence and is less concerned about the gossip back home. Luc also seems to be healing from the war that took so much from him. When an unexpected encounter with someone causes Rosalind to flee, she must allow God to help her. Gossip is an ugly thing to be part of. It gives people a sense of power as they tear others down. Can Luc help Rosalind find strength and overcome her insecurity?
I loved how this story guides us to see that God has a plan for us. We need to listen as He speaks softly and follow His direction. I loved how Rosalind began to let go of what was holding her back from joy and allowed God to open her eyes to joy and peace. Luc is a special man who not only helps Rosalind but finds his own happiness with a woman that God had placed in his life.
THE WEARY WORLD REJOICES BY NAOMI CRAIG
This story finds us following Amal as he is assigned by King Herod to find out everything he can about the Messiah. King Herod is in an uproar and wants answers now. I loved how the author gives a glimpse of someone seeking out who the Messiah is and that salvation is for all people.
Amal has doubts about his mission but slowly he begins to wonder if the Messiah is near. He feels a darkness around him as doubt lingers. He wants to be free of this darkness and emptiness he feels. The story is filled with a journey to seeking out the Messiah. I loved how it explores faith and that we need to believe in Him so we may be saved.
I enjoyed following Amal and how he desired to follow the Messiah. It is a beautiful look at how a person desires to change and find peace within themselves. We don’t have to see Jesus to believe in Him. As Amal found out he can do the work of Jesus by spreading His word and being faithful.
I received a copy of this book from Celebrate Lit. The review is my own opinion.
Babbling Becky L’s Book Impressions, October 20
Through the Lens of Scripture, October 20
Library Lady’s Kid Lit, October 21
Texas Book-aholic, October 22
For Him and My Family, October 22
deb’s Book Review, October 23
Inklings and notions, October 24
Holly’s Book Corner, October 24
Locks, Hooks and Books, October 25
Lots of Helpers, October 26
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, October 26
Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, October 27
By the Book, October 28
Because I said so — and other adventures in Parenting, October 28
She Lives To Read, October 29
Ashley’s Clean Book Reviews, October 30
Mary Hake, October 30
Blogging With Carol, October 31
Simple Harvest Reads, November 1 (Guest Review from Donna Cline)
Literature Approved, November 1
Happily Managing a Household of Boys, November 2
To celebrate their tour, the Celebrate Lit Authors are giving away the grand prize package of a $25 Amazon gift card and a copy of the book!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
Thanks for hosting keeping Christmas!ReplyDelete
This sounds like a great set.ReplyDelete
Lovely cover, Keeping Christmas sounds like a holiday collection that I really want to read! Thanks for sharing it with me!ReplyDelete
Thanks, Texas Book-aholic, for sharing your review!
Have a sunshiny day!
Thank you for the extensive review! I like reading anthologies for the same reasons, especially Christmas anthologies.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the review. I loved each of these unique stories.ReplyDelete