Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Smitten Book Club by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Dian Hunt

In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman's Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

The century-old Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.

Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends' romantic exploits.
When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

What's more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold-exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?

Here's my review of this enjoyable weekend read:

First of all, I would like to extend a heartfelt “Thank you” to Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter and their publisher for sending me a copy of "Smitten Book Club" to review for them. I am truly grateful for this generosity. I really appreciate the time, effort and expense it takes to make a reviewer copy available to me.

“Smitten Book Club” is a fun and heartwarming anthology of novellas from four of Christian fiction’s best authors.  Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter contribute four stories to this collection in the series of novels about Smitten, Vermont.  The common theme that runs through all four stories is that the gals are passing around a book on romance that apparently contains clues to a real-life treasure hidden in Smitten!  This is a thoroughly satisfying weekend read.

****“Love by the Book” by Colleen Coble.  Heather has a history with Paul:  four years ago, she threw herself at him and he rejected her.  Now, he’s moving back to Smitten with the idea of creating an organic town garden and hopes that Heather will help him.  He has other hopes regarding Heather as well, but she seems to want to keep things between them away from a more personal interaction.  This engaging romance is a great way to kick things off!

***“Shelved Under Romance” by Kristen Billerbeck is the tale of Abby, the town librarian, who has grown older than her 27 years caring for her aging mother.  Wyatt is an adventurer and an extreme sportsman who wants to help Abby break free of her reticent lifestyle.  This sweet romance is a charming edition to the Smitten collection.

***In “A New Chapter” by Diann Hunt, Lia is reunited with a friend from her youth.  Joey has recently returned to Smitten with his daughter after losing his wife the year before.  Joey has never thought of Lia as more than a friend, but Lia has always been head over heels for him.  This touching Christmas tale will have you curling up on the couch with cocoa and a favorite blanket.

*****Molly’s husband passed away last year, leaving her with an adventure business she has no idea how to run in “Happily Ever After” by Denise Hunter.  Gage owns another adventure business, Molly’s prime competition in Smitten, and with her trust in men at an all time low because of things she learned about her husband after his death, Molly is having a hard time accepting that Gage wants to help her succeed.  He must have an ulterior motive.  This beautifully written story is a great way to wrap up this set of four novellas, bringing the suspense of the treasure hunt to a conclusion as well.

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