Friday, December 31, 2021

Look what our authors published in December!

Our authors have been busy writing and publishing books this past month. Here is what we published in December:

December Releases:

Holiday Heart: Sweet Historical Holiday Romance (Holiday Express Book 2)

By Shanna Hatfield

Hearts and humor collide in this sweet holiday romance

Zach Coleman spent his childhood dreaming about trains, and now he’s one of the repairmen at the Holiday engine house who keeps them chugging down the tracks. Life couldn’t get any sweeter, or so he convinces himself, until he’s on his way home from work and saves a woman from getting hit by a wagon. How was he to know that one, brief encounter would upend his world?

Lorna Lennox grew up with the best of everything in life. Her father, a railroad tycoon, has made sure of it. Now that he’s moved her into a new house in a remote Oregon location, Lorna wonders if she’ll fit into the small community. She’s barely arrived in the town of Holiday when an adventure leaves her at the mercy of a handsome stranger. One she finds impossible to forget.

Will the holidays present a chance for hearts to entwine? Find out in this sweet holiday romance rich with history, humor, and the joys of Christmas.

Released December 7, 2021


Mail Order Lucy: An Impostor for Christmas Book 8

By Marisa Masterson

Disgraced and sent east to live with an old-maid aunt, Lucinda jumps at the chance to take Maggie's place. She'll marry a wealthy rancher, a dream come true.
A farmer and not a rich rancher waits for her. Grant Reynolds expects more than a hot-house flower. He made sure his bride is a farm girl who can do chores and cook.

Which one in this marriage will bend his or her expectations? Does a match built on a lie have any chance of succeeding?

Note--While this is a standalone sweet romance, the heroine was introduced in Lemon Pie by Lucinda. Reading that book first may increase your enjoyment of this story. 

Released December 7, 2021


Mail Order Letitia: An Impostor for Christmas Book 9

By Zina Abbott

When forced to live with her late mother’s much younger sister, Aunt Matilda, she and Uncle Clarence made it clear, if Letitia wishes to eat, she will participate in the family business ― swindling people. Matilda’s latest scheme is writing to well-to-do men seeking wives through correspondence, with Letitia doing the writing. Collecting spending money and tickets to be cashed in is bad enough. The last straw for Letitia comes when Matilda decides to travel to marry a rancher she learns is well-off. She is already married to Clarence ― isn’t she? Then there is the manner in which Clarence puts his arm around Letitia’s shoulder and assures her he will take real good care of her until Matilda returns.

Samuel Grayson has spent a decade building up a successful ranch near Laramie, Wyoming. He now wishes to marry. After writing three letters to Matilda in Baltimore, he decides she is the one for him. He wants her in his home as his wife by Christmas.

Until the letter with tickets and money from Samuel Grayson arrives, Letitia had never, of her own free will, stolen anything. However, she sees this as an opportunity to save this unsuspecting rancher from Matilda and herself from Clarence. She only hopes, if Matilda’s groom ever finds out the truth, he will see it the same way.

Released December 14, 2021


A Christmas Dream for Destiny: Mail-Order Brides' First Christmas Book 16

by Annee Jones

1890. Destiny Price works in the sewing room of the Cleveland orphanage where she lives but longs for a better life. Even though she knows she’ll never be able to bear children and has never celebrated a real Christmas of her own, she is plagued by a recurring dream of sitting in a rocking chair next to a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, singing an infant to sleep. Desperate to escape her dreary and monotonous life, Destiny answers an ad for a mail-order bride out west. But when she meets Stuart “Stormy” Holling, a former miner turned woodworker with a peg leg, is she prepared to handle the passionate temper that earned him his nickname?

Released December 16


Sadie: Romancing the Weavers, Book 17

By Kit Morgan

Two handsome neighbors ... Two beautiful pranksters ... And two sets of nervous parents.

Sadie and Lucy Weaver were the Weaver farm's worst pranksters. It was their reputation, one that needed to be upheld. But when Sadie realizes that the only way to catch Taylor Wyndham's eye is by acting like a lady at the annual Chirstmas dance, she's torn between her reputation and getting the man she wants. And that's not all. Taylor doesn't seem interested no matter what she does. Thank Heaven his brother Brandon offers to help, and the two concoct a brilliant plan to help them win the hearts of each other's siblings! But the best plans often go arwy and Sadie realizes the greatest joke of all might be on her. 

Enjoy this sweet, clean holiday romance as only Kit Morgan can deliver!

Released December 22, 2021


Friday, December 24, 2021

Storytelling is Part of Who We Are

courtesy of AboveTopSecret

Almost as basic as sharing food together, storytelling is part of the human experience. You could even say this essential communication is part of our DNA. Since cave people days, humans have gathered around a campfire and shared the events of their days—first with gestures and then with words. A recent article dates this gathering as early as 300,000 years ago. Back from a hunt, the successful expert shared the excitement of the chase and the kill with those who stayed behind and tended the firecooking or tanning or curing─allowing others to feel part of the essential activity that kept the band alive.

courtesy of

The kitchen became the central part of family life throughout the ages. Even now the clanking of pots and pans or good scents emanating for that room will gather folks close.

I'm experiencing my family’s holiday visit with three generations under the same roof for two weeks, and I hear stories at every turn. Recalling past visits or sharing details of what has transpired since we were last together—as probably with everyone else, the pandemic disrupted the 2020 holiday season─is one way we “know” each other. When I write, I always keep these cherished visits in mind. Setting the majority of my stories in the past when we didn’t fight the pull of technology and electronic devices allows me to focus on the characters’ struggles to become acquainted.

As we gather in whatever size group we’re comfortable with, be sure to listen to the stories around you or open a storybook and start sharing. Because who doesn’t love being read to?

A Christmas Tree for Trudel

Rancher Gibson Bartleigh travels to Pine Knot to investigate how his younger brother was swindled out of his mining claim. He finds the suspect, businessman Bernard Heinrik, at a poker table and squares off opposite him. Gib goads the man into betting big, staking the mining claim and then ends up with the winning hand and retrieves the deed. Goal achieved, he heads back to the hotel, planning how he’ll leave in the morning and arrive triumphant in Redlands at the family home in time for holiday festivities.

Mail-order bride Trudel Arensen traveled from Los Angeles to Pine Knot to meet up with her fiancĂ©, Mister Heinrik, with whom she’s been corresponding for several months. But he’s a day overdue in meeting her. She waits in the hotel lobby with her lace-making materials and her little dog, Butterscotch. Released from the orphanage two months earlier, Trudel has been on her own and terrified she will always be so.

When Gibson realizes he’s the cause for the lovely lady’s misfortune, he’s stuck with a dilemma. If he confesses what he did, he’ll have to offer the woman a ride back to where she came from. Propriety demands they marry, and both agree it’s only for the duration of the trip. But will forced proximity deepen the relationship into something more?

Amazon buy link

Thursday, December 23, 2021

The Man Who Invented Santa Claus - by Jo-Ann Roberts

I have been in full-on Christmas mode since my trip to London in mid-November. Everywhere we visited, from Kensington Palace to the Cotswolds to Covent Garden to the many Christmas markets, the streets and store-front windows were decked out in Christmas finery.  

So as soon as the last slice of Thanksgiving turkey was devoured, Papa Bob and I went up to crawlspace (it's what they call an attic in North Carolina--not tall enough to be a room or wide enough to be a shed) to bring down the decorations.  When I opened the tote containing the many boxes of Christmas cards, an image of a vintage St. Nicholas stared back at me. 

This got me to wondering how that vintage image morphed into today's Santa Claus.

Thomas Nast, America's most famous 19th century political cartoonist and the creator of the image of Santa Claus as we recognize him today, was born in 1840 in a military barracks where his father was a musician in the Regimental Bavarian Band. The elder Nast, while not an agitator, was a man of liberal ideas. In view of the political turmoil prevalent in Germany, his commandant suggested America might be a better place for a man so fond of free speech.

When Thomas was six years old, his mother brought him and his sister to the United States and settled in New York. Serving out his enlistment, his father followed four years later.

While not a good student, Nast showed an interest in drawing, preferring doodling over doing his schoolwork. At 13 he dropped out of regular school, enrolling in the National Academy of Art. But when his family could no longer afford his tuition, he went to work, creating illustrations for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper.

In 1862, he joined the staff of Harper's Weekly as an artist. Anxious to join the Union Army, his request was denied after President Lincoln described him as the "best recruiting sergeant" for the Union cause because his sketches encouraged others to join the fight.

One of the most inspiring pictures was "Christmas Eve", a double-circle picture that shows a soldier's wife praying for his safety and in the next circle shows the soldier seated by a campfire, looking at photographs of his family. In the right corner of the drawing Santa Claus is shown riding a sleigh pulled by reindeer. And in the left corner, he is shown climbing down a chimney.


In the past Santa Claus--or St. Nicholas, as some continued to call him--was presented in various ways, but Nast conceived and introduced our modern image of Santa Claus.  His illustration, along with Clement C. Moore's very popular poem, "A Visit from St. Nicholas", helped create the modern image of Santa Claus.

For the next thirty years, he continued to draw Santa changing the color of his coat from tan to the red he's known for today.


His image of Santa Claus was the inspiration for the Coca Cola' company's Santa Claus. 

In 1885, this advertisement of Santa Clause delivers Ivory Soap for Christmas. 

Courtesy of Proctor & Gamble

As the years passed, Nast added details of the story of Santa's life through his illustrations. It is believed that the story about Santa Claus living at the North Pole may also have been a Nast creation.

Whether you call him St. Nicholas, Father Christmas, or Santa Claus, the modern image of Santa as a jolly, benevolent, plump man in a red suit is a combination of creative of creative influences of authors and illustrators, and it is an image that is loved and recognized by children and adults alike around the world.


Here's a Christmas Eve excerpt from Grace-Brides of New Hope Book Three for your reading pleasure.