Friday, December 8, 2023

UPSIDE DOWN CHRISTMAS TREES and other fun Marisa Masterson


Earlier this fall when I began writing Raisin Pie by Rosemary, I realized Pennsylvania Dutch superstitions and customs would play a large role in the story. Rosemary Mast, my heroine, was a German from near Pittsburgh. Germans who settled there were mistakenly referred to as Dutch--something to do with their native word for 'German'. She was raised to believe in some odd things. I knew this would make for a different and fun romance. 

One such superstition involved nailing a toad to the barn. (No toads are harmed in the story!)

Wolf dropped the scythe. He ran toward them. All three had linked arms and were admiring whatever they had done to his barn.

They stepped back when he approached. Rosemary beamed her pleasure as she pointed at the barn. “The curse,” she said as if that explained a dried toad nailed to his barn.

“What kind of witchcraft is this?” he bellowed.

The twins yelled out in surprise and then fear. He noticed their movements and saw them hide their faces in the dark fabric of Rosemary’s skirt. She patted each and made a shushing sound.

Wolf waited. After only a few seconds, Rosemary growled, “I am no witch. Everyone knows that a toad’s foot must be nailed to the barn to get rid of something tormenting you.”

She looked at him. “Don’t you feel tormented?”

“You don’t want me to answer that,” he huffed.

Not only did I need to research superstitions, but I knew I wanted this to be a heart-warming Christmas story. That meant Rosemary's holiday traditions would need to seem 'strange' to her very American husband.

In the end, I discovered the upside down Christmas tree. It seems it was a custom for some in the Pennsylvania area (and maybe other places). The tree was suspended from the ceiling. 

Why hang the tree? Mice! The upside down tree kep rodents from reaching the popcorn garland used as a decoration. At least, that is one guess for why the custom was practiced. Even so, the reason is not nearly as interesting to me as the fact that the custom actually exists! 

My hero in the book is not at all happy with the notion of suspending the tree from the ceiling--

Wolf stared, one eyebrow arched in question. She blushed and shook her head, not sure what to say. “Uh, the tree. Yes, let’s hang the tree.”

“No, we don’t hang trees,” he said in a voice that told her he was repeating himself. “It needs to stand in a bucket. The tree will need water. Otherwise, it ‘ll turn brown.”

“At home, we hung the tree using ropes. If you make it stand, the tree will be upside down.”

Once more, Wolf groaned. “Your idea is upside down!”

In my book, Wolf (the hero) urges Rosemary to move beyond fear represent by her many superstitions. It is certainly a Christmas story written from a Christian worldview. 

Superstitions have become a way of life for Rosemary. Can she leave behind those ideas to please her new husband?

Thursday, December 7, 2023

Candles and the Christmas Tree

 Ah, we've all seen movies and books with pictures of a candle lit Christmas tree. Big cities and small towns alike put trees in the square or some other prominent part of town. One of the most iconic here in America is the tree in Rockefeller Center in New York City. I've seen it myself, and it's quite the sight!

I have a book releasing any day now. A time travel where my hero and heroine travel back in time at Christmas, and are staying with a family of farmers who put candles on their tree. It freaks my hero and heroine out, even though the tree is beautiful, they're more concerned about the house burning down.

There's been a resurgence of putting candles on the tree. Yes, it's beautiful, but when did this get started? Well, the earliest would be way back in the time of ancient pagans, when folks used the combination of evergreens and lights to symbolize life in the middle of winter. Fast forward to the 17th century, and the German Christians combined the yule log (yes, another pagan custom that helped create the Christmas tree) with the Christmas tree, by putting candles on the branches, and voila! The illuminated Christmas tree was born.

Christmas trees were brought to America by German-speaking Morovians who settled themselves in Pennsylvania and North Carolina in the early part of the 19th century. Later, by around 1820 or so, the Christmas tree was growing popular, and more and more households were putting them up.

Jump ahead about thirty years to the early 1850s when a man by the name of Mark Carr started selling Christmas tree. Yep, Mark had the first tree lot! He got his trees from the Catskill mountains and brought them to New York City  to sell.

But it didn't take long for people to figure out that the whole candle business that came along with a Christmas tree had its drawbacks. Fire was always the big danger, and the cause was unstable candle holders.  So, in 1878, a fellow by the name of Fredrick Artz invented a clip on candle holder. His holder firmly attached a candle to any branch, and though this helped, it still didn't dim the fire hazard.

If candles on the tree is your thing, remember,  it's a lot safer (and wiser) to use battery operated candles that can clip onto the tree. There are also strings of "candle lights" one can put up. Just make sure you have either spare batteries for the battery operated ones, or a few nice string of candles instead of candles and a box of matches. Your tree will last a lot longer! And so will your house.

Until next time,


Friday, December 1, 2023

Look What Our Authors Published in November!






Our authors have worked hard to bring you your next favorite stories. 

Here is what we published in November!


Butter Pound Cake by Berdina: Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 26

By Linda Carroll-Bradd

Bakery manager Berdina Hulbard has big plans to expand the Riverside Bakery’s services to the growing Astoria community. She has visions of creating stylish wedding cakes and elegant petit fours, similar to what she produced at her previous job. During a marathon baking session, she’s interrupted by a blue-eyed brute of a man screaming “Fire” who douses the fire in the brick oven, sending ash over her inventory.

Seeing black smoke billowing from a chimney, volunteer fireman Peder Stefansson bolts into the bakery to put out the fire. Peder is temporary squad captain and wants to prove he’s ready to take on the job permanently. When safety is restored, he discovers ruined baked goods, an irate baker, and an escaped canary. He likes the spirit of this spunky beauty with sparks in her brown eyes. What can he do to tame this chaos into cuddles?

Release Date: November 7, 2023

Christmas and Babies: (A Holiday Boxed Set)

By Marisa Masterson

Nostalgic Christmas romances, complete with little ones!
This set includes previously published titles grouped together as a holiday reading treat!

A Farmer for Christmas--
Children! Myra is tired of them.
She didn't expect to be disinherited or to end up as her brother's unpaid nanny and cook.Thank goodness her matchmaker neighbor offers Myra a way out of the situation.
Holder knows he can't expect his ill mother to care for his daughters. Following advice, he sends away for a mail-order bride. Too bad he forgets to mention his children in the letter.

A Snowy Delivery for Christmas--
Christmas, 1921

Del Peale and Josephine Withers both have loved and lost. It's why neither has acted on their mutual attraction. That changes when a newborn is abandoned on the front steps .A cold house forces Del to face the home he once shared with his wife and son.
Will it be enough to let them believe that love is still possibility? Will strange twists and the abandoned baby lead to a Christmas wedding? Perhaps their landlady will need to step in with a miracle and a very special Christmas ornament?

Detective to the Rescue--
Her first case was a disaster!

Pinkerton Agent Charity Melrose has one more chance to prove her worth and the life of a woman to save. With few clues to the victim's whereabouts, this could be her last case.
And what to do with the fake husband who is her traveling companion or the Christmas baby they both need to watch over?

Release date: November 14, 2023


Lefse by Linnea: Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 27

By Jo-Ann Roberts

 He made a promise to a dying friend.
She vowed to never love again.

"You've become a recluse."

Linnea Nyland heard the concern in her sister's voice. Still filled with grief and missing her husband almost two years after his unexpected passing, she didn't have the inclination to disagree with the statement. Though she dearly missed working her magic in the family bakery, she liked her life on the farm just the way it was...solitary.

Especially after Deputy Finn McBride came calling with his ridiculous proposal of marriage!

In a moment of panic, Finn made a heart pledge to Erik Nyland to care of Linnea, to marry her. He'd bungled his first attempt, and he's not sure his heart can endure the vow he made knowing he'd been in love with her from the day he came to Holly Springs.

Giving it one last try, he challenges her to a holiday baking competition. If he wins, she must agree to let him court...if she wins, he'll leave her alone...forever.

Release Date: November 21, 2023


Rose: Christmas Quilt Brides book 11

By Linda Carroll-Bradd

Spinster Rose MacEwen is the shy daughter in the large family of a prominent banker. All her life, her stutter has kept her from experiencing a normal social life like her sisters have. Although she’s the oldest daughter, Rose rarely talks with anyone outside her large family. Her mother believes no man will ever want her because a woman who can’t act serve as hostess won’t aid a husband’s career. Rather than argue, she keeps her thoughts bottled up inside. For years, she has sat at her grandmother’s side and learned the art of quilting. Rose pours her emotions into making quilts that she donates for charitable causes. But what she yearns for is the chance to converse with others in the community about what’s in her heart.

Blacksmith Berrin Harimann is most at ease in his world of heat and toil. No one bothers him while he’s wresting useful objects from blocks of metal. Those who come to his dark shop don’t linger after transacting their business. A disfiguring injury five years earlier robbed him of his fiancée. Rather than make excuses for a family who couldn’t look him in the eye, he moved west and set up shop in the Silver Bow Creek Valley. The pain from his burn scar now resides in his lonely heart and festers because of what’s missing from his life.

When the pulley on her quilt frame breaks, Rose ventures outside the family mansion in search of a blacksmith. Berrin looks up from his forge and sees an elegant lady in his shop doorway. Their gazes meet, and she steps into his world, bringing light. They connect instantly, and their fate seems set. But what chance does this pair have when everyone tells them they are not suited? Can their budding love withstand the expectations of her family and society’s standards?

Release date: November 24, 2023


Romancing the Doctor (Second Chance Groom Book 9)

By Marisa Masterson

Will a strange coincidence allow her tormentor to become the love of her life?

Desperate, Elsie Fox answers an advertisement for a mail-order wife who is also a trained nurse. And she was desperate. After studying for years in a medical school where the male students tormented her, she could not find a hospital or even a small community that would accept her as a doctor.
Her Wyoming groom turns out to be Barnaby Tanner, one of her college tormentors. Elsie wonders if she has been given a chance to prove her skills or if her career has ended before it even starts.

Will their marriage be a second chance or a disaster?

Suspense, the historical setting, and sweet romance make this a must-read for anyone who enjoys a Laura Ingalls Wilder sort of life. Settle back with your Kindle and enjoy life in 1870. The West is waiting for you.

Release date: November 24, 2023


Simon's Christmas Mail Order Bride (Historical Western Holiday Romance)

By P. Creeden

Can unexpected Christmas magic spark love’s flame between a man with no bride and the woman who has traveled so far to win his wary affection? This is a clean, wholesome series of standalone novellas written from a Christian worldview. Each story has a happily ever after and features down-to-earth characters with real world problems who overcome them by grace and love. There will be seven brides in this special holiday series ~ read them all

Release date: November 29, 2023



Not all of our authors make their books available on pre-order. However, for those who do, those advance sales go a long way toward boosting their sales rankings. 

Here are future releases:

December Pre-orders


Hope: (Christmas Quilt Brides)

By Jo-Ann Roberts

Gabe Dawson didn't believe catastrophes came in threes. That is, until his grandfather died, a fire nearly destroyed his home, and his grandmother started showing signs of forgetfulness.

When Hope Brody discovers Nora Dawson wandering in a snowy field and learns of the family's loss, she sets out to recreate the quilt that was destroyed in the fire. But in order to present it to her at the Annual Christmas Eve Quilt gathering, that meant she'd have to get to know the taciturn Gabe Dawson.

Despite thwarting her efforts at friendship, Gabe finally acknowledges that Hope's visits are helping ease his grandmother's anxieties. Soon, he finds himself falling for the lovely quilter. But with only a small farm and almost constant care of his ailing grandmother, he has nothing to offer and would never be a woman's first choice.

As Christmas approaches, will Hope look beyond his obligations and see a future blossom from a special, once-in-a-lifetime friendship?

Release Date: December 5, 2023


A Journey for Dorothy: The Reluctant Wagon Train Bride - Book 8

By P. Creeden

Dorothy Mason swore that she’d never marry again when her husband passed away five years ago. She just wasn’t interested in her heart being broken again. But living in her old house in Tennessee kept breaking it by reminding her daily of her times with her husband, and she was having a difficult time letting go. So, her sister convinces her to get a fresh start by traveling west on the wagon train to Oregon. But once she’s given up her life and everything dear to her and arrives in Missouri, Dorothy discovers that she can’t move forward unless she considers getting married again.

Reverend Elias Stone doesn’t quite believe in Manifest Destiny, but does believe in bringing lost souls to the Lord. With so many lost people moving out west in search of gold and riches, Elias feels a calling on his life to make a move in that direction, himself. So, he arranges to join a wagon train heading to Oregon and California. But before the journey even starts, he finds himself in a harrowing situation that could take his life, calling, and ability to travel away from him. Only by considering a marriage to a woman he doesn’t even know can he continue, but is this really God’s plan for him?

Release date: December 5, 2023

Beulah: Christmas Quilt Brides Book 13

By Zina Abbott

     Beulah Beatrice “Be-Be” Connor, who is approaching the age of thirty, gave up on marriage after the second man who had courted her left and never returned. Unlike the two maiden great-aunts, after whom she was named, she did not have an inheritance to fall back on. She worked almost half her life for her own support. When the café job in Wichita, Kansas, disappeared as the Panic of 1893 continued, she considered the job she landed at a new girls’ academy in nearby New Ponca, Oklahoma Territory, to be a Godsend.

     Daniel Burdock had once been married. After both his wife and baby died during childbirth, he gave up on marriage. He now focuses on making improvements to his homestead claim. He accepts his carpenter brother’s offer to attend his construction mathematics class on mitering corners, figuring angles for roof trusses, and other geometry and trigonometry skills needed for building.

     Much to his surprise, the hired help for his sister-in-law’s girls’ academy also attends. Why does it surprise him that Marigold Burdock agreed to teach Miss Connor how to make quilts on the condition she attend the construction class? The pretext is that knowledge of how to figure triangles and other geometric shapes so they fit together is good preparation for designing quilt blocks.

     Construction mathematics for quilting? Honestly? Although he soon realizes those skills could be helpful for piecing quilts, Daniel begins to suspect there is more afoot than feet, inches, and angles. If he is not careful, he and Be-Be might end up stitched and bound together like a Christmas quilt.

Release date: December 8, 2023  


A Lawyer for Larina (Mail Order Papa)

By Linda Carroll-Bradd

Weaver Larina Cristobal lives a quiet life on the mountain sheep ranch she and her late husband operated. Following a year-long melancholy over the family she would never have, Larina approaches her widow sister, Willa, with a plan to bring new husbands into both their lives. The widows place an ad for a husband in three Eastern newspapers. Even if they don’t find love, they won’t lead solitary lives.

Lawyer Evan MacQuarrie’s latest courtroom win leaves him shaken mentally and doubting he ever wants to lead another trial—definitely not one where a child’s life is at stake. An ad in the Philadelphia newsletter for a widow sheepherdess looking for a husband in a small mountain town catches his eye. A quiet life tending animals sounds perfect. After verifying she has no children, he travels West—only to discover Larina’s in jail…for abducting a child. Will he face down his fears to give this new life a chance?

Release date: December 14, 2023


Clementine : Christmas Christmas Quilt Brides Book 15

By Kimberly Grist

An orphan longing for security, a reclusive rancher bound by the stipulations of his inheritance, and a proxy marriage that will meet their needs in ways they never expected.

Clementine has nothing to her name but a quilt and some second-hand clothing. She's aged out of the orphanage and can't afford to be choosey. But she is determined to make the best of things. "If it's true that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach, surely any minor flaws like my sassiness will fade away with the aroma of fresh bread."

Disappointed in love, Caleb Ellis is content to live a reclusive lifestyle on the outskirts of his family's ranch. But his father had other ideas and left a condition that he must marry to obtain his inheritance. Time is not on his side, so he has arranged to marry a woman he's never met by proxy. "Anyone growing up in an orphanage, desperate enough to apply as a mail-order bride, is bound to be practical, biddable,and self-sufficient. I'll leave her to her own resources and she should leave me to mine."

Release date: December 18, 2023


Raisin Pie by Rosemary: Old Timey Holiday Kitchen Book 29

By Marisa Masterson

German Town was worlds away from the Great Plains. Rosemary Mast left her Pennsylvania Dutch community to find a home with distant relatives in Kansas. Only, none of her family was there. What she found was a man desperate for help with his orphaned niece and nephew. She was also desperate and agreed to go with him.
She had expected the man to be like others she had known while growing up, even though he was a Swede and not German. Was her new husband crazy? He asked for a funeral pie for Christmas!

Wolf Acker embraced being an American. Now his bride's strange superstitions were driving him crazy. All he wanted was a raisin pie for Christmas day. She would not make it. What hope was there for their young marriage when she refused to change?

What will need to happen so this young couple can make a sound marriage and provide a good home for the orphaned twins in this sweet historical Christian romance? Can a man love a woman who drives him crazy?

Release Day December 19, 2023


Amos: Christmas Quilt Brides Book 16

Angela Raines

Amos Krieder thought love had passed him by, while Mary Jane Pierson felt lost and alone and unsure of herself. Can a quilt bring about a second chance at love and a Christmas wedding? Find out in this heartwarming tale set on the Eastern Plains of Colorado.

Amos lost his parents, brother, and fiancée in the Chicago Fire of 1871. With his grandmother's encouragement, he moved West and settled in Kiowa Wells, Colorado, where he opened a hotel. He thinks he's content until a letter and package arrive from his grandmother in Illinois. He has a choice to make but can he do it?

Mary Jane Pierson, who grew up without a mother and whose father has been controlling. As a result, when she tried to rebel she only created a reputation that haunts her. She believes that no one will accept her for the kind loving person she strives to be while still dealing with her father.

A Christmas Pageant, a quilt, the townspeople, and an unexpected event might be just the thing to bring these two meant for each other together.

Release date: December 22, 2023


Felix's Christmas Mail Order Bride (Historical Western Holiday Romance)

By P. Creeden

This Christmas, love arrives unexpectedly—by stagecoach.
Can unexpected Christmas magic spark love’s flame between a man with no bride and the woman who has traveled so far to win his wary affection? This is a clean, wholesome series of standalone novellas written from a Christian worldview. Each story has a happily ever after and features down-to-earth characters with real world problems who overcome them by grace and love. There will be seven brides in this special holiday series ~ read them all!

Release date: December 27, 2023

January Pre-orders

A Journey for Lona: The Reluctant Wagon Train Bride - book 10

By Linda Carroll-Bradd

Newly accredited teacher Lona Hollis joins a westward wagon train with her two cousins. The three young adults are moving to Portland, Oregon, to join the rest of the family where Lona’s uncle runs a shipping business. They connect with a small group of twenty-five wagons, but the original captain becomes ill. An appointed leader acquires a new captain who demands all women over age sixteen be married. Such marriages are for convenience and safety only with the option of being annulled when the wagon train arrives in Oregon. Faced with several possibilities, Lona has to make a decision on who will make the best partner…within an hour of meeting him.

Laborer Mal MacMurphy needs to move out of New York City. Hanging out with the Irish mob favored by his da and brothers is not healthy. Cousin Sully just died in a knife fight. To make a new start, Mal works his way west on the railroad and joins a wagon train heading on the Oregon Trail. But he has to offer himself in marriage so a single woman can continue the trip. Unfortunately, he’s matched with a woman who has a widely different outlook on life. Will the perils they face convince the couple of an inevitable split or force them to rely on each other to stay alive?

Release Day January 2, 2024

A Builder for Bronwyn: Mail Order Papa

By Jo-Ann Roberts

Husband Wanted: Age 30-40 Must have building experience, be dependable and strong of body, mind, and spirit to withstand Minnesota climes. Education is preferred but not necessary. Must possess a neat appearance and understand a woman’s feelings. Above all must not be judgmental.

Whispering Pines, Minnesota 1880
As the sole heir to her father’s lumber and building empire, Bronwyn Stewart always knew there was one stipulation…she must be married. And finding a man in town who desired her rather than her fortune was no easy feat. Desperate, she expands her search by sending an advert to the newspapers back East.

Ian Taggart only wants to further his skills as a builder…not to get married. But when the unforeseen happens and he finds himself guardian to his nephew, he feels the advertisement for a husband might just be the answer. As he spends more time with Bronwyn, he can’t help but watch the bond grow between her and the baby, making him regret his deception.

And when someone wants Bronwyn and her empire for himself, Ian must decide if a real marriage can blossom between them.

Release date: January 5, 2024


Nana’s Match for Cody: Grandmothers Know Best Book 3

P. Creeden

A bounty hunter who thinks he knows everything about the chase, until love comes chasing after him—sent by his grandmother.

Release Date: January 30, 2024