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The Christmas Promise

by Richard Paul Evans

Library Journal In Balogh's latest Westcott Regency, irascible Justin Wiley, Earl of Brandon, has the decency to take responsibility for half-sister Maria when her mother dies, inviting her friend Lady Estelle Lamarr to accompany Maria to Everleigh Park, where family secrets crack open and the earl finds himself attracted to Someone Perfect: Lady Estelle. In Guild Boss, New York Times best-selling author Castle again escorts us to the earth colony Harmony for another futuristic paranormal romance fling. In Cousens's Just Haven't Met You Yet, Laura picks up the wrong suitcase at the Channel Islands airport while on a business trip, then hunts for the owner with romantic notions—the suitcase included piano music, her favorite book, and a cool fisherman's sweater—with the help of a cranky cabbie who has charms of his own. Evans returns with another Christmas Promise, featuring a love and faith thought lost restored by the true spirit of Christmas (200,000-copy first printing). In the New York Times best-selling Graves's Heard It in a Love Song, newly divorced music teacher Layla recalls her golden days as lead singer of a bar band and falls into happy conversations with the newly separated dad of one of her students, though both are wary of new love (75,000-copy first printing). Next in Ward's "Prison Camp" series, a Black Dagger Brotherhood spin-off set in an underground prison housing murderers and thieves, The Wolf opens with second-in-command Rio saved from death by a lupine creature with golden eyes (150,000-copy first printing). In canine celebrator Wilson A Dog's Chance, Madison helps both her troubled 14-year-old daughter, Abbie, and 75-year-old Arthur by having Abbie help train Arthur's energetic new golden retriever puppy (35,000-copy first printing).

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Kirkus A surviving twin falls for a mystery man in this Yuletide love story. Growing up in Utah, identical twins Michelle and Richelle Bach, or Micki and Ricki, had been virtually indistinguishable in appearance but had different personalities. Micki was the fun one who’d barely squeaked through high school, needing help from Ricki, the class salutatorian and the story’s narrator, to even graduate. Dad gave each a gorgeous black opal worth 15 grand as a graduation present. (Opaleeze, who does that?) Later, the twins had become estranged after Ricki found Micki in bed with Ricki's fiance. Later still, Micki dies (the events are unconnected). Ricki is a dedicated pediatric ICU nurse and an aspiring writer. One day, a handsome stranger named Justin visits her Calliope Writers Group, and he appears to be wholesome as can be. He charms Micki with lines like, “I’ve always believed love should be a little reckless. Sometimes a lot.” And so they fall in love, of course, but the road to bliss is fraught with uncertainty: Why did he come to Salt Lake? What’s his real interest in a writers group, given that he’s not a writer? Why does he keep leaving town and returning? “I guess when something looks delicious, we’re less inclined to check the ingredients,” she muses. That this is a Christmas-themed story suggests sugar rather than spice—Justin seems so gosh darned good—so let’s hope he lives up to his promise. Speaking of which, Ricki says, “I made my father a promise that I never fulfilled.” Love, forgiveness, and downright decency must try to overcome multiple betrayals and personal losses. The book’s best line is Ricki’s: “My question hung in the air like a piñata, just waiting to get smacked.” How much must she endure? The big twist near the end is either an eye-roller or heartwarming as the dickens, depending on one’s worldview, and it all leads up to a Christmas finale. Cozy up to a crackling fireplace with your Christmas cookies and eggnog and enjoy this holiday treat. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Book list Nothing says cozy Christmas read like a Richard Paul Evans book, and his latest (after The Noel Letters, 2020) doesn’t disappoint. Richelle is facing a lonely holiday after losing both her father, Richard, and identical twin, Michelle, in the same year. Richard’s final request of Richelle was to forgive her sister after years of estrangement, but Michelle was killed before they had the chance to even attempt to reconcile. Now Richelle immerses herself in nursing the sickest children in the PICU to cope with her isolation and grief. Her other solace is the writing group where she meets other struggling authors, and where she encounters a newcomer, Justin, who immediately draws her attention. As she and Justin grow closer, the prospects for a merry Christmas appear unexpectedly bright, until doubts and revelations intervene. As Richelle wrestles with the prodigals in her life, themes of love, forgiveness, and redemption resound throughout this heartwarming tale. Recommended for lovers of holiday fiction and fans of Evans, old and new.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Nothing says cozy Christmas read like a Richard Paul Evans book, and his latest (after The Noel Letters, 2020) doesn’t disappoint. Richelle is facing a lonely holiday after losing both her father, Richard, and identical twin, Michelle, in the same year. Richard’s final request of Richelle was to forgive her sister after years of estrangement, but Michelle was killed before they had the chance to even attempt to reconcile. Now Richelle immerses herself in nursing the sickest children in the PICU to cope with her isolation and grief. Her other solace is the writing group where she meets other struggling authors, and where she encounters a newcomer, Justin, who immediately draws her attention. As she and Justin grow closer, the prospects for a merry Christmas appear unexpectedly bright, until doubts and revelations intervene. As Richelle wrestles with the prodigals in her life, themes of love, forgiveness, and redemption resound throughout this heartwarming tale. Recommended for lovers of holiday fiction and fans of Evans, old and new.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The enjoyable latest Christmas-themed outing from Evans (The Noel Collection) introduces readers to twins Richelle and Michelle Bach, who are nearly indistinguishable physically but whose personalities couldn’t be more different. Despite a contentious relationship, the sisters, who are in their 30s, agree to spend Christmas with their father. Over the holiday, Richelle discovers her boyfriend in bed with Michelle, and their relationship further disintegrates. Then Michelle is killed in a hit-and-run, and any hopes of reconciliation die with her. Richelle pours her grief into her job caring for critically ill children in an intensive care unit, and also into a novelization of Michelle’s life. One night during writers’ group, Richelle meets Justin Ek, and their mutual attraction is instant. Justin, whose wife recently died, is dealing with his own grief. As the two find comfort in each other, Richelle fears she is once again being betrayed by someone she loves when she learns Justin knew Michelle. But Justin’s deception might also be the key to Richelle finally overcoming her grief. Probing how anger and fear can skew perceptions and poison relationships, Evans’s lovely tale packs an emotional punch. Agent: Laura Liss, Sterling Lord Literistic. (Nov.)

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