I haven’t typically been a ‘seasonal’ reader in the past – reading Christmas themed stories, for example, at Christmas – but this year it has been a little difficult to resist, because there are just so many fantastic Christmas novellas releasing! So over the next couple of weeks I’m going to do some blog posts spotlighting some of these Christmas novellas.
Coming up later in the month, I will have Melissa Tagg’s One Enchanted Eve – which I have been warned might just have the best kiss ever! – and there will also be Eva Marie Everson’s God Bless Us Every One, and Virginia Smith’s A Goose Creek Christmas. But today, I’m spotlighting two sweet Christmas romances: Ordinary Snowflakes by Jennifer Rodewald, and 12 Days of Snowmen by Sarah Monzon.
Ordinary Snowflakes by Jennifer Rodewald
A secret Santa gift left on Kale Brennan’s front porch opens up a fresh view of her ordinary life, and perhaps of God. Maybe she does matter. Maybe God sees her—as does a new-to-town music teacher who has her seven-year-old daughter gushing and her own knees buckling with his killer smile. But as Kale embraces new possibilities, a staple in her life—a man who is kind and steady, not to mention necessary for her injured daughter’s recovery—also snatches her attention in an unexpected way. Will the one pursuing her with his secret gift and kind gestures be the one her heart longs for in the end?
Someone had noticed me. A secret admirer? A man with a good heart, who saw how much I actually did need help, even though I never admitted it, and now much Sydney needed someone to teach her that men could be nice – that some of them stuck around, no matter how hard life got. Maybe I knew him. Maybe he’d been around for a while. Maybe this was the beginning of a beautiful story – a romance full of hope and second chanced and love. Maybe . . .
Not gushy at all, right? Way to keep it real.
Snowflakes continued to drift around my cold car. Wonder diminished. They were just ordinary snowflakes falling on my ordinary life.
First of all, can I say ♥ ♥ ♥ TOTAL COVER LOVE ♥ ♥ ♥ ?
Okay, next I have to pick myself up from the warm gooey puddle I’ve melted into on the floor. This book is perfection in a novella, and I can guarantee you’ll want to read the end more than once – if not the entire book!
Kale Brennan is an ordinary mum – an ordinary single mum – trying to do the best by her seven-year-old daughter, Sydney, who is still undergoing physical therapy after having her legs crushed as a two-year-old. She would love it if God would send her a good man to walk by her side, but sometimes it feels as though God’s forgotten about her. When she finds a gift on her front porch from a secret Santa, accompanied by the message ‘I see you’, she wonders whether maybe her wish is finally going to be granted. But the longer she waits to open it, the less sure she is about whom she is hoping it is from.
This novel is a little lighter in mood than Rodewald’s full length novels, but it is still written with her customary warmth and that same beauty of expression that curls around your heart and makes you feel everything the character is feeling. And I loved that I could even feel the subtle tension in a certain other character (who will remain nameless so as not to spoil anything) even though the whole story is told from Kale’s point of view. And in case you’re wondering, I loved both male characters, but Kale definitely ended up with the right guy 😉
As well as a heart-melting romance, this novel was a lovely reminder that sometimes we forget to look for God in the ordinary things. It was also a reminder that sometimes the things we’re torturing ourselves over – and every mother, single or not, has experienced the guilt of feeling like they’re not doing everything they should be doing – are not God’s priorities. God focuses on the heart. “I’d been seeking badges of honor when I should have been prioritizing touches of grace. Mind blowing to me, and even more so was the fact that as I let that realization sink in, I suddenly felt free.”
You could not possibly ask for more in a Christmas novella.
12 Days of Snowmen by Sarah Monzon
Twelve days. That’s all Lucy Nel has left before her foster daughter, Abby, goes back to live with her biological mother. Twelve days to make this the best, most memorable Christmas of Abby’s young life. Lucy plans to provide a snowman for each day—no easy feat with Florida’s unseasonable temperatures. When an attractive new coworker nursing a wounded heart offers to help Lucy, she reluctantly accepts his generosity, determined not to let his friendship sway her from giving Abby her undivided affection.
Can twelve days of snowmen turn into a lifetime of love?
Jonathan looked over Abby’s head, and Lucy was struck again by how well he fit in her home in such a short period. “I think I may need to sample these cooking skills of you lovely ladies.”
More time together? This time a dinner, like a real family? How was she supposed to hold on to the reality that these moments were but fleeting and soon both these people would be out of her life for good? “I don’t think-”
“Yes! I can make you my famous macaroni and cheese. It’s from a box, but Mama Lu says mine is the best because I sprinkle it with love.”
Or she could make the most of the time together, and in the quiet, lonely times of the near future she could pull the memories out and cherish them.
“I love mac and cheese.”
Lucy picked up the bag of fake snow and cut off a corner with a pair of scissors. She crawled over to Jonathan and popped off the top of his ornament, sprinkling some ‘snow’ in. As she passed, she whispered in his ear, “Don’t pretend I didn’t catch that fish of an invitation.”
Her movement toward Abby was stilled by a hand on her wrist. Warm breath fluttered the flyaway hairs at her neck, which had fallen from her topknot.
“Don’t pretend you don’t want me here.”
She did. Heaven help her. The flutter in her stomach and the sense of rightness when he was around . . . She wanted him there, and longer than for just the next eleven days.
However unreal that seemed.
This little whirlwind of a novella will definitely tug at your heartstrings! And if you’ve read Finders Keepers, also by Sarah, you’ll have the added joy of seeing Jonathan find some well deserved happiness.
Lucy Nel knows the uncertainty of being a foster child – the longing to have a permanent home; a family; someone who would love her no matter what. For the last few years, she’s been giving that to five-year-old Abby, whose mother has developed a cycle of graduation from rehab, then falling back in with the wrong crowd and relapsing. But now she’s stable, and Abby will be returned to her care in just twelve short days.
Jonathan Morris has come to the living museum in St Augustine, Florida, to fill in as a tour guide over the holiday period. When he finds his new co-worker has been crying over a puddle of melted ice, he figures there’s probably a little more to the story than meets the eye. A helper by nature, he’s quick to see if there’s anything he can do to help, and although Lucy resents his intrusion into the last days of her precious time with Abby, there’s something about having him there that feels very right – and very much like her dreams of a family to call her own.
Little Abby will steal your heart as quickly as she stole Jonathan’s, and I loved the creativity in the different ways Jonathan and Lucy created snowmen with Abby. Jonathan was also very sweet with Lucy, particularly as she became conflicted over her feelings for him and her desire to make the most of the time she had left with Abby. And there’s a little cameo from Summer and Trent that resolves some things for Jonathan, too.
My personal feeling was that the ending was a little too much of a whirlwind and a bit abrupt in ending where it did, and… well, it’s hard to say any more without spoiling the end, but I’d love to have a discussion with others who have read this story about alternate ways it could have ended. There was a part of me hoping for a slightly different outcome, but don’t let that stop you from picking up this sweet novella this Christmas. You’ll definitely feel the love!
Have you read either of these books? Feel free to share your thoughts!