A Log Cabin Christmas by Margaret Brownley, Wanda E. Brunstetter, Kelly Eileen Hake, Liz Johnson, Jane Kirkpatrick, Liz Tolsma, Michelle Ule, Debra Ullrich and Erica Vetsch
GENRE: HISTORICAL ROMANCE
PUBLISHER: BARBOUR PUBLISHING
PUBLICATION DATE: SEPTEMBER 1, 2011
RATING: 8 OUT OF 10 STARS
PROS: Introduces readers to established authors and newcomers to the genre; perfect length of stories to read during the busy holiday season
CONS: Not ideal to read one story immediately after the other as the log cabin setting can get a bit repetitive
This endearing collection from Barbour follows on from the success of the previous year’s A Prairie Christmas Collection. Compiling short stories from popular and established authors in the historical genre as well as several newcomers, A Log Cabin Christmas features nine stories set in log cabins at varying locations and periods of American history. Ranging from typical homes built out of logs to log schools and stores and even a log church, the authors of A Log Cabin Christmas show readers how romance can blossom in every setting. Characters dream of living in log cabins, build homes from scratch and learn to overcome difficulties in this shared setting, across different locations and time periods at Christmastime in historical America.
As it is impossible to share my in-depth thoughts on all the stories in this collection I’ve picked out my ultimate favourites to share. While I didn’t have one outright favourite story in this collection, there were several that really stood out to me.
The Courting Quilt by Jane Kirkpatrick was one of these purely because it featured the most unique protagonists in the entire collection. Mary’s hair is prematurely white and as a result everyone believes her to be an elderly woman, and Richard was just as unusual with his different coloured eyes. This was more than just a straight-forward romance, featuring some humour in the fact that nearly all of the women in the story fell for Richard without him realising it. This was not a story that I forgot in a hurry and I’ll definitely be looking out for more from this author, who already has several novels under her belt.
A Log Cabin Christmas also introduced me to a newer, less-established author who I’m certain will soon become more popular in the inspirational market: Liz Tolsma. I adored Under His Wings, the story of a young woman, Adie, who lives with her father at a logging camp and finds herself having to rely on one of the other loggers for protection when her father is killed in an accident. This was a slow moving romance as Adie took a while to respond to Noah’s offers of help. This touching tale will appeal to fans of marriage of convenience stories.
My love of all things German may have biased me towards A Grand Country Christmas by Debra Ullrick, but even those who aren’t so familiar with the language and the customs will enjoy this sweet tale of orphaned Awnya being taken in by Amadeus and his family just in time for Christmas. I thoroughly enjoyed this story, especially as the protagonists had a lot of chemistry between them which made their quickly blossoming relationship seem all the more realistic. The sizzle in their romance reminded me a bit of Vickie McDonough or Mary Connealy and made a much appreciated addition to this otherwise incredibly chaste collection. Readers who appreciate stories featuring characters from other ethnicities will likely also appreciate the Mexican-infused The Dogrot Christmas by Michelle Ule which, despite having a very different type of romance from that in A Grand Country Christmas, reminded in my mind long after I finished reading it.
I must also mention Margaret Brownley’s short story, which is the first in this collection. I was introduced to her work earlier this year and was pleased to discover that I enjoyed her shorter works just as much as her full-length novels. Snow Angels contained all of my favourite components in a romance, from being snowbound in a cabin to the addition of cute children to spur on the relationship between the hero and heroine.
There were no real duds in this collection, and I’ve refrained from going into detail about some other excellent additions to this collection purely due to the constraints of writing a review that isn’t so long that you’ll feel like you’re reading my university dissertation. So I must briefly mentioned Kelly Eileen Hake’s Christmas Traps and Trimmings, which stood out because of the details about Mina’s English upbringing and the disaster that brought her and Sam together, but isn’t a favourite simply because ended a bit too abruptly to make me truly love it. Christmas Service by Erica Vetsch is also worth reading for the message it gives about ways in which to serve God that many young women are likely in need of hearing, but this same message ended up making the heroine difficult to sympathise with.
I did find Wanda Brunstetter’s The Christmas Secret and Liz Johnson’s A Star in the Night to be the weakest stories in the collection, for very different reasons. I’ve never been a fan of Wanda’s style of writing and this was still the case in The Christmas Secret, but I will admit that the plot was quite original and kept my interest. A Star in the Night was a sweet, gently blossoming romance but lacked any chemistry between the characters, especially as the author continually reminded the reader that the protagonists never spent time alone indoors together, which even in a historical setting felt a bit forced. I still enjoyed reading both of these stories despite their flaws, and it wouldn’t stop me from recommending this collection.
A Log Cabin Christmas is a collection to be savoured over a matter of weeks, not hours, and the length of the stories makes it easy to pick up and put down again during the busy holiday period. Historical romance readers will be pleased to see stories many popular authors in the genre featured, and to discover some new writers who will hopefully come to be just as admired.
Review title provided by Barbour Publishing.