Thursday, December 7, 2017

Book Review for Litfuse Publicity Group: The Gift of Christmas Past

Welcome to my blog's stop on this book tour coordinated by Litfuse Publicity Group!

Today, I’m sharing my thoughts on a book called “The Gift of Christmas Past.” It’s a fiction story that's co-written by New York Times bestselling author Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall.

Here's a blurb from Litfuse Publicity Group, about The Gift of Christmas Past:

Arson wasn't the only fire that ignited between them. 

Promises shattered.

Lies spoken.

She was arrested.

He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?

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My Review:

“The Gift of Christmas Past” is a Southern Romance fictional story written by Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall.

Despite being a work of fiction, this story touches on real-life issues and desperate situations. The story’s heroine (Hadley) is a victim of the foster care system. Her anger issues to me, as a reader, were totally understandable given all that she’s been through as a foster child. However, it was her anger issues and alleged arson that caused her foster mom to reject her and landed her in jail at age 17. Hadley’s boyfriend (Monroe) at the time tried to rescue her but his wealthy parents stepped in and blocked him from seeing Hadley. So she carried that confusion of being abandoned by a young man she loved with her…for ten years. The story opens with these scenes (Hadley at age 17, being accused of arson and arrested along with Monroe’s failed attempt at rescuing her from a hard life).

The story continues ten years later with a reunion in the works: Hadley and Monroe now work as therapists at the same clinic. Only problem is, Monroe is now her boss and Hadley is having trouble forgetting and forgiving him. Monroe is conflicted—he’s happy to see Hadley again and has so much that he wants to tell her but their decade apart has caused pain in their hearts, the kind of pain that you can’t just easily forgive or forget.

The authors did a delightful job of digging deep into the characterization of Monroe and Hadley. I liked how they layered the backstory especially in how they involved Monroe’s parents. The authors painted a vivid picture of the wealthy and luxurious world Monroe grew up in and they gave a good hook to his story because he wants nothing to do with it. He’d leave it all behind for Hadley if only she would find it in her heart to hear him out and forgive him.

As a reader, I was often on the edge of my seat, wondering if this would be the moment where Hadley listened to Monroe’s side of the story, forgave him and rekindled their romance. The authors are really good at thickening the plot with the turn of every page and keeping the reader’s attention. As a reader, I cared about these characters and wanted to see them all live happily ever after…including Hadley’s best friend from her foster care years, Elliott and her love interest Trent.

Speaking of Elliott and Trent, I liked how the authors showed another side of Hadley and Monroe through the lenses of their best friends (Hadley + Elliott and Monroe + Trent). There were scenes where Elliott came to Hadley’s defense when talking to Trent and Trent vouched for Monroe when talking to Elliott because both Elliott and Trent saw a different side to their best friends. I like that they were not too pushy in their viewpoints but allowed room for debate. It was great to see how the authors used these lenses of the best friends in this story to soften Monroe and Hadley’s hearts.

The way that the authors wrote Elliott and Trent’s love story for the subplot was downright adorable! I loved the witty banter and their date scenes. It was lighthearted and refreshing but not without challenges because Elliott was playing worse than hard to get, Trent had to knock down brick walls to get close to her heart. The authors kept me as a reader, on the edge of my seat with this subplot romance!

The sweetest part of this story is the Epilogue, which takes place at Christmastime. I’d tell you more, but then I’d be giving away the story!

As a truly sweet treat from the authors, readers in real-life can enjoy making some of the recipes that the fictional characters make in this story because the authors included a few recipes on the few pages following “The End” of this story. This fun feature reminded me of Hillary Manton Lodge’s books which I also love!

I’d like to conclude my review by saying that this book is worth a five-star rating. I’d recommend it to anyone who deals with tough issues and needs a glimpse of hope.

*Litfuse Publicity Group provided me (Alexis A. Goring) with a complimentary copy of The Gift of Christmas Past. My opinions in this book review are my own.

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About the authors:


Cindy Woodsmall is the "New York Times" and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She's been featured in national media outlets such as ABC's "Nightline" and the "Wall Street Journal." Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA. 


Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at http://www.cindywoodsmall.com.

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