Christmas Embers (Chautona Havig) – Review + Giveaway!

5 Dec celebrate-lit-christmas-embers

5 stars

~ About the Book ~

It’s a truth universally unacknowledged that sin will hunt you down and advertise its presence the moment you try to hide it.

Emily Byrne sits in her daughter’s classroom listening to the deepest wishes of twenty kindergarteners as she sketches them. But when little Joey Cordell breaks down, weeping and insisting the only thing he wants to find is his father, she isn’t sure where her Christmas project will take her.

Davia Cordell came to Rockland for one purpose–find her son’s father before she dies. An ex-prostitute, she’s well aware that the news will cause waves, but what’s a mother to do?

As these women join forces to search for Joey’s father–a Rockland area pastor, no less– Emily learns compassion for a woman who just wants the best for her son and can’t quite imagine that Jesus wants anything to do with her.

Each day, Davia weakens until Emily isn’t confident she’ll find the boy’s father in time–if at all. Doubts form. Should she look? Is it right to risk destroying a family like this–an entire church? The weight of that responsibility crushes her as Davia wastes away before her eyes.

A mother’s love. A boy’s confidence. A family’s faith. A preacher’s failure. Is redemption even possible anymore?

Genre:  Christian Fiction
Release date:  25 November 2016
Pages:  288
Publisher:  Wynneword Press

Amazon US  //  Amazon AU  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

“Mommy says you want to know about Christmas. Are you from the Salvation Army?”
Without looking up from her drawing, Emily shook her head. “I’m just doing a project for my blog.” She paused and smiled at him. “Do you know what a blog is?”
The little guy shook his head. “Ain’t never seen one, but we don’t go to the store much.”
“Well…” Emily pulled out her phone and typed in her blog page. “Here’s my blog. It’s like a magazine, but you just read it on the computer or a tablet or something. I share pictures of what we’re doing, and what we’re learning, and every year I do a special Christmas project. Last year it was letters to soldiers. I got people to write letters to soldiers and send them to me. I posted them all online so any soldier could read any or all of them. But then we sent them to men and women who were far away from their families on Christmas.”
“That’s a very good idea.” Joey stared at the screen. “I want to send a letter.”
She knew better—the temptation to take on too much usually overrode her actual abilities, but Emily couldn’t say no. “I still have some of the addresses. I’ll see who is still far away and see what we can do. You write that letter.”
“So, is my picture for a soldier?”
If she hadn’t already promised the parents that they could have the original sketches, she would have said yes. But Emily shook her head. “No, it’s for your mommy. This year I’m drawing you as an animal, and while I work, I want you to tell me what you would like most for Christmas.”
Joey’s answer cam in a flash. “The Salvation Army brings me presents—because Santa Claus needs help sometimes when lots of people live together like at my ‘partments.”
“It doesn’t have to be a present. It can be anything you want. Maybe even something for someone else or something—”
“I want to find my daddy. I want my daddy for Christmas.”
Excitement welled up in her. What is it with these first kids? They’re so cool! Emily tapped the record button and started asking questions. “Well, that would be something I’d want, too. Is he far away or…?” Hearing the question aloud wrung her gut. So, help me, if I just asked a kid whose dad is in prison if “he is far away,” I’ll never forgive myself.
“I don’t know.” With that startling pronouncement, Joey burst into tears.

~ Review ~

Ouch. This book hurts. And it’s meant to. It might seem a little bit odd giving a book like that five stars, but I think this book is the closest I will ever come to understanding the pain and the fallout of adultery without experiencing it first-hand, and that is one of the most powerful benefits of story. It engages the emotions and forces you to confront your assumptions and perceptions. You don’t need to hypothesize about how you might respond if you found yourself in a similar situation; you only need to ask yourself, “How am I responding, right now?” And the reader is confronted by many different scenarios during the course of this story: How do you respond to the repentant adulterer? The unrepentant adulterer? The innocent children caught in the crossfire? The bitter spouse? The shattered spouse? The people who push you towards divorce? The people who judge you for even considering divorce? How do you manage righteous anger?

I'm not better'n youThis story will sink its talons into you; make no mistake. You will not be able to read it and remain unaffected, and Joey will win your heart from his very first scene. But aside from the plot itself (which I don’t want to divulge), there were a number of factors that contributed to making this a powerful read.

First and foremost, it handled the subject Biblically without being legalistic. It acknowledged that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with adultery except to get on your knees before the Lord and seek His will. It also acknowledged both physical and emotional adultery, and that it is not always physical attraction that leads to adultery. Emotional intimacy with a non-spouse can be just as dangerous—if not more so, as we can often justify our actions by telling ourselves we are simply being there for a brother or sister in Christ, or even being used by Christ to reach someone. Like the proverbial frog in a pot of water, we don’t notice the gradual rise in temperature until it’s too late to jump out.

Adultery brings out the worstBut while this is definitely a painful cautionary tale, it is also a story of hope. Restoration is possible in Christ, though this book doesn’t try to suggest that it will be the reality in every situation. It’s a hard road to walk—for both parties—and that initial fracture can never be erased. All other things aside, I did admire this husband’s commitment to putting his wife’s needs before his own once his betrayal came to light, although I also understood his wife’s struggle to even want to reconcile. Some may say it was ‘too little, too late’, but he was genuinely committed to living out his repentance, regardless of the cost to himself, and I think that is a lesson in humility we could all learn from.

How do you tell peopleThis is definitely not your usual feel-good Christmas novel, and I know many people read to escape the realities of life, but I think this is a case where it’s good to make an exception. This is a chance to understand the depth of pain that some of our brothers and sisters in Christ have experienced and to weep with them. And it’s a reminder that “the ones you need to be careful of, to watch out for and encourage the most, are the ones who everyone insists could never fall. Those are the ones who ultimately do.” Let’s not be naïve, and guard our marriages for all they’re worth!

I received a copy of this novel from the author. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.

~ About the Author ~

ChautonaAuthor of the Amazon bestselling Aggie and Past Forward Series, Chautona Havig lives and writes in California’s Mojave Desert. With dozens of books to her name, Chautona spends most of her time writing, but when she takes the rare break, she can be found reading, sewing, paper crafting, or sleeping and dreaming of finishing the dozens of books swirling in her overly-active imagination at any given moment.

Connect with Chautona: 
Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter  //  Pinterest  //  Instagram

~ From the Author ~

Infidelity to the Tune of Adeste Fideles

I think my husband is having an affair.

An explanation followed. Look, I tend to be one who assumes the best of others—to a fault even. I read the “evidence” and frankly could see it going either way. It’s hard to tell across thousands of miles. While others on the message board saw red flag after red flag—and frankly, I did, too—I also saw perfectly innocent explanations for things. It’s a curse sometimes—that ability to see both sides of an issue. I cautioned against assumptions no one would want other people to make of themselves. And I prayed she was wrong.

She wasn’t.

It wasn’t the first time I’d come face to face with infidelity. As a child, there was an extended family member. As a newlywed, one of my wedding party—then another. Then another. The excuses, the justifications. Friends and I went to confront a sister in Christ on her affair with her husband’s best friend. We foolishly asked, “What happened?” regarding her marriage. Her words: “We drifted apart.

I wanted to scream the words that battered my brain and heart. “Then row back together!

But over the years, it just grew worse. One by one, wives and husbands tossed aside vows made to a brother or sister in Christ—vows made before the Lord—in favor of what sometimes were serial affairs. Abuse. Horror.

I’ve prayed women I love through court cases, medical visits, and disclosures from children no mother should ever have to hear. I’ve prayed for men I didn’t even like because of the pain their wives inflicted each time she left them alone with the kids. He knew. He always knew.

Adultery is real. It’s ugly.

And there’s absolutely a cure for it. Jesus. 100% surrender to Jesus. But as long as we rely on those little loops on the back of our boots instead of the saving, healing, strengthening power of Jesus, we’re just as vulnerable as the next person.

And that’s why I wrote Christmas Embers. I took every heartbreaking story I’d observed over the years and put in each character for a reason. Every scene, every plot point, every twist—I put them exactly how and where they are for a reason.

They’re there as a warning.

This isn’t your lighthearted Christmas novel. Some have suggested I shouldn’t have set it at Christmastime. But you know what? Over half the disclosures I’ve ever heard of happened between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. I couldn’t get the idea of Joey’s story out of my head. And to write his story, it had to be at Christmas.

Let me say it again. While Christmas may not seem like the optimal time for a hard-hitting book like this, I had to do it. Adultery is reaching epidemic proportions in the church. There’s a solution.

His name is Jesus.

For more posts on this novel, visit

~ Giveaway ~

Kindle unlimited giveaway

To celebrate her tour, Chautona is giving away a grand prize of a 6 month Kindle Unlimited Subscription!!

Click below to enter. Be sure to comment on this post before you enter to claim 9 extra entries!

~ Blog Tour ~


December 5 – Carpe Diem // A Baker’s Perspective // Mary Hake

December 6 – Moments Dipped in Ink // D’S QUILTS & BOOKS // Daysong Reflections

December 7 – Fiction Aficionado // A Simply Enchanted Life // Genesis 5020

December 8 – Blogging With Carol // The Power of Words // Bigreadersite

December 9 – Reading Is My SuperPower // A Greater Yes // Radiant Light

December 10 – Just Jo’Anne // For The Love of Books // Book Bites, Bee Stings, & Butterfly Kisses

December 11 – Aryn the Libraryan // A Reader’s Brain

December 12 – The Fizzy Pop Collection // Books, Books, and More Books

December 13 – Quiet Quilter // Seasons of Opportunities // Christian Book Devourer

December 14 – Allofakindmom // Texas Book-aholic // Pursuing Stacie

December 15 – Pause for Tales // Reader’s cozy corner // margaret kazmierczak

December 16 – Red Headed Book Lady // Purposeful Learning // Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations

December 17 – Janices book reviews // Christian Bookaholic

December 18 – Karen Sue Hadley // Remembrancy // Blossoms and Blessings

About Fiction Aficionado

Homeschooling mum, word lover, reader extraordinaire, and follower of Christ
This entry was posted in Book Reviews, Christian Fiction, Contemporary Fiction and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Christmas Embers (Chautona Havig) – Review + Giveaway!

  1. sabrinatemplin says:

    What a tough subject


  2. Thank you for such a thoughtful review. Bless you. I really appreciate you taking the time to read such a hard book. 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hannah Corner says:

    Oh, I love Chautona Havig’s books so much! I own and have read so many. I am really excited about this new one! Yay!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Best of 2017 – The Emoji Files, Part IV: Got Me in the Feels | Fiction Aficionado

  5. Pingback: Top Ten Tuesday – Emotionally Exhausting Reads | Fiction Aficionado

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