About the Book:
Book: Keeping Christmas Volume 1
Authors: Cathe Swanson, Chautona Havig, Olivia Talbott, Kathleen J. Robison, Denise L. Barela, Marguerite Martin Gray, and Naomi Craig.
Genre: Christian Christmas Romance
Release date: October 4, 2022
In castles far and near, long ago and yesterday, find happily-ever-afters wrapped in love and tied with Christmas joy.
The Lights of Castlebourne (by Cathe Swanson and Chautona Havig): He bowled her over at first sight–his dog, that is. Sydney just wanted a chance to do the landscape design at Castlebourne. She never dreamed the owner’s electrician would light up her heart at Christmas.
The Girl From Dalarna (by Olivia Talbott): She’s the most beautiful woman in Sweden, but she doesn’t want to be. A simple life among milk cows is all she desires. Will a scandal upend her plans and ruin her chances for love?
The Cross at Morioka Castle (by Kathleen J. Robison): In the ancient land of shoji screens and tatami mats, Ariko finds the stone ruins of Morioka Castle, and the mysterious cross that holds the secret of a Christian faith extending far deeper than Ariko ever imagined.
The Ghost of Christmas… (by Denise L. Barela): Abbigayl needs to get away for Christmas this year. No family, no questions about why she’s still single, no suggestion about being set up with someone’s friend. What will happen when Neuschwanstein Castle’s past converges with Abbigayl’s future?
Crystal Clear (by Marguerite Martin Gray): Rosalind’s muddied past and foggy future crystalize in Château Chenonceau, a refuge from gossip and more. Watch as the château and Christmas work their magic and break the bonds of propriety, and rejoice as Rosalind experiences the crystal-clear hints of peace, joy, and hope all around her.
The Weary World Rejoices (by Naomi Craig): Behind the elaborate furnishings of Herod the Great’s palace, conspiracy and distrust run rampant. Mysterious visitors from the east challenge everything Amal thinks he knows as palace scribe. Will his quest to uncover the Truth free him from the ornate shackles of palace life, or will he be the next victim of King Herod’s maniacal jealousy?
Grab a mug of something hot and delicious and curl up somewhere comfy. Your literary chariots await to take you on a journey from an early twentieth-century castle overlooking the Mississippi all the way back to the Holy Land at the time of Jesus’ birth. These six novellas, all set in castles real and fictional, celebrate the heart and joy of Christmas.
The Lights of Castlebourne: I always enjoy books written by Chautona Havig or Cathe Swanson, and since they co-authored this one, I knew I would enjoy it. I did—except for the frequent, detailed kisses. In my opinion, and from what I have seen and experienced, kissing is not a good basis for a relationship. If a couple wants a strong marriage that lasts, they need to found it on Jesus and not on the feelings they get when they kiss. Ok, off my soapbox. The setting of this story was really fun, and I loved Sydney and her cousin Arielle. The dog was something else again, too! And that bit about un-firing? Genius!
The Girl From Dalarna portrays a beautiful young woman whose beauty becomes somewhat of a curse to her. She doesn’t like her beauty because of where it takes her, but Who made her? Can she learn to accept the way God has made her, and to do what is right even when it’s hard and she is misunderstood? This story is set in Sweden, on a farm.
The Cross at Morioka Castle took me to Japan. Who knew there was a castle there? I didn’t! Though this story isn’t based on historical fact, I still really enjoyed it. It’s a beautiful story of people standing up for God through opposition.
I did not enjoy The Ghost of Christmas…. I simply don’t like time travel or ghost stories. I’m sure there are a lot of people it will appeal to, but not me.
Crystal Clear is the first book I’ve read by Marguerite Martin Gray, although I have read a lot of reviews of her books. This one involves a young woman going from London to stay with a friend of Queen Victoria in a castle in France to get away from a scandal in her family. What would happen, though, when other English people, who had heard about the scandal, showed up? Could Rosalind find peace in her heart despite others’ censure, and could she find purpose in life? I did wonder about the historical accuracy of this book, with a returned soldier who had been fighting in Vietnam and Morrocco suffered from trauma. I don’t doubt the trauma, but the term Vietnam doesn’t ring true to me.
My favorite in this volume, which surprised me, is The Weary World Rejoices. I’ve been wanting to read something by Naomi Craig for awhile, and I think I like her! I liked that there was no romance at all in this story. I also liked the new perspective on the birth of Jesus. I loved the way she told the story from the point of view of one of Herod’s scribes. This is a good story! I will be looking for more books by this author.
About the Authors:
USA Today Bestselling author of Aggie and Past Forward series, 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.
Cathe Swanson writes books with creative plots and engaging characters of all ages, to glorify God and entertain and bless readers. Her heartwarming stories will make you laugh and make you cry – and then make you laugh again.
Olivia Talbott grew up in Montana, but currently lives in Kentucky with her husband and two daughters, a few sheep and a border collie. She loves words, traveling, pickles and having deep conversations about how Jesus changes everything. Visit her at oliviatalbott.com.
Kathleen J. Robison is an Okinawan-American, born in Okinawa, and raised in California, Florida, Mississippi, and Singapore. Her travels and her family are the sources of her inspiration for her books. Kathleen and her Pastor husband have eight adult children. Seven are married, blessing them with eighteen grandchildren and counting. Her ethnically diverse background extends to her family of currently thirty-five personalities which provide many opportunities to share God’s amazing love amidst the challenges of real life.
Denise L. Barela is a twenty-something-year-old writer with a passion for fiction, her faith, and just being creative in general. When she’s not working away at her desk, you might find her reading a good book or following Alice down the rabbit hole…
Marguerite Gray enjoys the study of history, especially when combined with fiction. An avid traveler and reader, she teaches French and Spanish and has degrees in French, Spanish, and Journalism from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas and a MA in English from Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. She has two grown children and currently lives with her husband in north Louisiana. She writes historical fiction.
Author of Biblical fiction, avid reader, pastor’s wife, Naomi Craig loves reading the Bible and imagining how things were at the time. When she’s not serving in various areas at church, trying to stay on top of mountains of dishes or convincing her rescue dog, Freeway, to be cute on command for Instagram reels, you’ll most likely find her enjoying a good book and a cup of coffee. Naomi co-hosts #BehindTheStory with Naomi and Lisa, an author interview show on YouTube and your podcast platform of choice.
More from Denise:
I’m excited to share this set of stories with you! All the authors have worked hard to bring you some Christmas joy and magic. We’ve each picked a castle to center our stories around. I mean, Christmas and castles go well together, don’t you think? You’ll get to explore different castles in different time periods while also getting to know all the characters in each story. That’s a lot of new friends to make!
For my story, I jumped on the chance to write about a castle that inspired the castle that always brought me joy growing up (if I’m being honest, it still brings me joy). I’ve always been a huge Disney nerd, and Princess Aurora has always been my favorite Disney princess. Growing up, I was blessed to be able to visit Disneyland for most of my life, and Sleeping Beauty’s castle was my favorite thing (I was so sad when they closed the walk-through part for several years). Even without the attraction part of it, I loved walking into the park and seeing it stand at the end of Main Street. I actually teared up seeing it for the first time after Covid.
What does all this have to do with my castle story? Well, in 1869, King Ludwig II of Bavaria began construction on Neuschwanstein Castle. This castle served as the inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty’s Castle. Let me tell you, if you thought Disneyland’s castle was beautiful, it’s got nothing on Neuschwanstein. If I were to pick a castle to live in, it’d be this one.
Setting aside the Disney connection, I was even more intrigued when I learned more about the king who commissioned it. The king was not very popular towards the end of his reign, and the day after he was sent to Berg Castle, he and a doctor were found dead in Lake Starnberg. The weird part? They ruled it a drowning, but there was no water in their lungs and clear signs of foul play.
Oh, but that’s not the only interesting fact this castle houses. This castle became a hiding place for some of the art the Nazi’s stole during World War II. Part of me wonders if any pieces are still hidden there. The Monuments Men group actually cataloged art found there, and it’s been preserved. Here’s a fun article from The Met all about it!
I hope you enjoyed learning about the castle that inspired my story!
To purchase your copy, click here.
To visit more of the blog stops on this tour, click here.
To enter a fun giveaway, click here.