A Family Made at Christmas
After taking guardianship of his late friend’s siblings and baby daughter, minister Levi Wallin hopes to atone for his troubled past on the gold fields. But it won’t be easy to convince the children’s wary elder sister to trust him. The more he learns about her, though, the more he believes Callie Murphy’s prickly manner masks a vulnerable heart…one he’s starting to wish he was worthy of.
Every man in Callie’s life chose chasing gold over responsibilities. Levi—and the large, loving Wallin family—might just be different. But she can tell he’s hiding something from her, and she refuses to risk her heart with secrets between them. Even as they grow closer, will their pasts keep them from claiming this unexpected new beginning?
Why This Book:
If you’ve read my bio or followed my blog for any length of time, you know I’m a sucker for stories involving the fatherless.
Opening Line (from Chapter 1):
Near Seattle, Washington Territory
Someone was watching her.
The first chapter of this novel was uniquely compelling with its combination of one family’s life upheaval and an underlying sense of mysterious danger. I was never quite sure if Callie’s family was truly safe or what they might do next and I kept reading to find out.
California “Callie” Murphy – Every male in her family has been struck by gold fever and Callie’s been left to pay the price for it, despite the best of intentions.
Levi Wallin – Made a mistake in his youth that continues to haunt him despite his faith and recent calling to become a pastor.
Frisco and Sutter Murphy – Callie’s 9 year old twin brothers, named after San Francisco and Sutter’s Mill. They are about as rambunctious and mischievous as you could want or expect two boys of their age to be.
Mica Murphy – Callie’s toddler niece; the son of her brother, Adam. Mica has a delightful disposition.
There is a whole Wallin family involved, with many brothers, a sister, and several sister-in-laws, not to mention Levi’s parents. However, they all spend about an equal amount of time “on screen” and we don’t get to know any of them in depth. Nevertheless, they still ring true as well-developed characters and you do get the sense there is more to their stories, which hints at the other books in the series without leaving you feeling you are missing any vital information regarding the story at hand – the story of Levi and Callie.
As is almost always the case, there are two or three more main characters whom I cannot identify without giving away their significance and possibly spoiling some of the intended surprise.
Emotional Engagement & Pacing of the Story:
This story was a slow, steady burn. It didn’t hurry me through, but it didn’t put me to sleep either. The characters were unique, sweet, and unpredictable enough to maintain my interest in what happened next in their lives.
Elements I especially liked/disliked:
While I have no family members struck by gold fever, I felt I could relate to Callie’s situation of having been repeatedly burned in relationships and feeling reluctant to put herself back out there. I also liked seeing the true-to-life struggle of two people learning how to parent together when their individual natural inclinations don’t always entirely match.
The theme of this novel is turning one’s eyes from the past and learning to appreciate the present while looking toward the future with optimism. Another way to put it would be: Focusing on the past wastes the present and poisons the future.
While there was a certain amount of predictability, I can’t dislike the predictability. I think it’s what we look for in this particular type of book. Also, the ending did hold a bit of a surprise for me as there was such a gap between particular events I’d nearly forgotten about the thread which created the twist.
3.5 out of 5 stars
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Other Books in the Series
About the Author
Regina Scott started writing novels in the third grade. Thankfully for literature as we know it, she didn’t actually sell her first novel until she had learned a bit more about writing such as vocabulary, sentence structure, and plot. After numerous short stories and articles in magazines and trade journals, she got serious about her novel writing. The Unflappable Miss Fairchild was her first novel to be published (March 1998).
Besides her novels, Regina Scott has had published three Regency novellas (“The June Bride Conspiracy” in His Blushing Bride, “Sweeter Than Candy” in A Match for Mother, and “A Place by the Fire” in Mistletoe Kittens). Two of her novels, A Dangerous Dalliance and The Twelve Days of Christmas, have been translated into German. A Dangerous Dalliance and The Incomparable Miss Compton have been translated into Italian. Starstruck and Perfection have been translated into Dutch.
Regina Scott and her husband are the parents of two sons. They reside in the Tri-Cities of southeast Washington State and are members of the Church of the Nazarene. Born in 1959 and raised in the Seattle area, Regina Scott is a graduate of the University of Washington. She comes by her writing talent naturally–both her parents are excellent writers in their vocations as teacher and electrical technician. Her mother envisioned the plot for “Sweeter Than Candy,” the novella which was written as a tribute to her.
Regina Scott is a devout Christian and a decent fencer; owns a historical, fantasy, and science fiction costume collection that currently takes up over a third of her large closet; and has been known to impersonate an independent consultant specializing in risk communication.
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December 9th: Grand Finale
1 winner will win an autographed print copy of His Frontier Christmas Family along with a set of rustic burnt-wood Christmas decorations the Wallin family would be pleased to own.
Ends December 13th