About the Book
Book: The Bells of New Cheltenham
Author: Chautona Havig
Genre: Christian fiction, Christmas romance
Release Date: October 15, 2020
Who knew that Christmas carols were love songs?
Justine Driscoll sure didn’t. Peace on earth? She’s heard of that. Holy and joyful? Something about that, too. But love songs sung by a bride about the birth of her bridegroom? That’s just weird stuff right there.
Weird or not, though, once Justine decides to enter a short story contest using a Christmas carol as the inspiration, she discovers love in the carols she investigates, in the story an ex-Army guy tells, and in the little tourist town of New Cheltenham.
“But what do the words mean?”
Ken Torsney is used to fighting for causes he believes in. He just never imagined he’d go from Army “warrior” to spiritual warrior in the span of one question from a stranger. Justine is like no girl he’s ever known— hungry for the gospel even as she rejects it.
He’s falling for her, and that’s bound to break his heart.
Love is in the air in New Cheltenham this Christmas. Again.
A couple of years ago, Chautona wrote The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, which involved Mitchell being required to tell a ghost story in order to get his inheritance. The Bells of New Cheltenham has a much nicer theme! I enjoyed reading it as it was written, and again after it was all done.
Mitchell entered the ghost story telling competition two years in a row; this year he can’t bring himself to enter. What can he do instead? He has a bright idea: Sponsor a different kind of contest! His idea is simple; the contestants are to write a short story based on a Christmas carol. He prints up flyers and posters and gets the word around town.
Justine wanders into town with all her possessions on her back. She listens to the carolers going around the streets singing one Christmas carol after another, and then sees the flyer about the short story contest. It catches her attention, even though she knows nothing about the Bible, Christmas, or Christianity. Ken, one of the carolers, notices her interest in the carols and offers to tell her the story behind the one she thinks sounded quite depressing. She wants to hear the whole story, even though she is trying to reject it. Ken, finding himself very attracted to her, knows he has to be careful not to fall in love with someone who isn’t a Christian—but he very much wants to spend time with her and answer all her questions about Jesus and the whole Christmas story! Meanwhile, she must win that contest—it would solve all her problems!
This is a great story with a unique premise. Chautona has carefully woven the entire story of why Jesus came to earth into this story, without being at all preachy. You must read this story about how Justine discovered love in everything around her. It’s delightful! Oh, and the scene in Chapter 8 where Ken talks about buying weed? It makes me laugh out loud every time I read it! (About four times now, since after I read it aloud to one son he wanted me to read it to the rest. I could hardly read, for laughing so hard.)
I received a free copy of this book from the author, and these are my honest thoughts about it.
About the Author:
Chautona Havig lives in an oxymoron, escapes into imaginary worlds that look startlingly similar to ours and writes the stories that emerge. An irrepressible optimist, Chautona sees everything through a kaleidoscope of It’s a Wonderful Life sprinkled with fairy tales. Find her at chautona.com and say howdy—if you can remember how to spell her name.
More From Chautona:
3 Things That Make My Christmas Heart Sing
I didn’t have a ghost of a chance.
The message popped up in my messenger at exactly the moment I sat down. This is significant, because I get dozens of Facebook messages every day, and often, they get buried when a new one supersedes it. So, as you can see, it’s a near miracle that I ever saw the message at all.
The message offered me a spot in a collection of novellas—a Christmas collection. Yep. Not a ghost of a chance.
Still, I tried to be responsible, you know? After all, I had quite a few books due at the same time already. Bookers on the Rocks, The Last Gasp, my Christmas Lights Collection “noella,” and my CrossRoads Collection “noella.” And those didn’t include anything I wanted to write in spring or summer.
Then she added another layer of temptation. This collection had a theme. That theme? Christmas carol inspired romances.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love music, Christmas, and specifically, Christmas music?
The other authors in the set had already made their carol selections. She sent a list of those that had already been claimed. I read them with great trepidation. See, I already had two carols I’d want to use in the story for this collection that I hadn’t even agreed to participate in yet.
No one had chosen “The Holly and the Ivy” or “The Bells on Christmas Day.”
That ghost slowly transformed into the ghost of my resistance.
All that remained was for me to come up with a story idea. I mean, why join a collection if you can’t even decide what to do with it?
That’s when it happened.
There’s always this moment when the first idea germinates, sprouts, and pushes up through the fertile soil of my imagination. My favorite moment. And it hit me. What if the theme for the collection was my story idea? My character could enter a contest that requires a short story based on a Christmas carol.
And once I had that idea, the rest came in a whoosh! Mitchell, from The Ghosts of New Cheltenham could be sick to death of this annual ghost storytelling contest and decide to create his own contest. And then… well…
The Bells of New Cheltenham was born.
If you’ve not read The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, you’ll follow this “noella” just fine. It is meant to be a stand-alone. However, if you want a richer reading experience, I recommend reading The Ghosts of New Cheltenham, followed by the companion short story, “The Ghastly Therapist” first. Both are available through Kindle Unlimited. Additionally, if you send your receipt (or a screenshot of the final page of the eBook from Kindle Unlimited) for the Melodies of Christmas Love collection to firstname.lastname@example.org, I’ll send YOU the bonus short story—the one Justine Driscoll writes in this “noella.”
But I promised to tell you three things that make my heart sing at Christmas.
- The way people are often just a little kinder and a little more giving and understanding.
- The joy that seems to fill every part of life—family, friends, parties, presents, church services, reading, singing…
- The music that plays everywhere—and often sings of a Savior’s love.
What makes your heart sing at Christmas?
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