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The Gift Of Christmas Past: A Southern…

The Gift Of Christmas Past: A Southern Romance

by Cindy Woodsmall

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173905,388 (4.5)None
At twenty-seven, Hadley is still trying to get free of the weight she's carried all her life: entering foster care at age five, getting arrested at seventeen for arson, and losing her boyfriend, Monroe, when she needed him most. Monroe never wanted to walk out on Hadley. He'd understood her, from her desire to help children with speech issues to her intense temper. But when she was arrested, he became haunted by what he knew and convinced his only choice was to end their friendship. 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-ild girl who's been rendered mute after being rescued from an apartment 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 young girl and her family.… (more)



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Hadley is a foster child. She is wrongly accused and loses her foster home and boyfriend who's parents are wealthy. Her boyfriend's' parents pay for an attorney on condition Monroe not see her anymore. After Hadley is cleared, her and Elliott take off and live on their own. Hadley becomes a Speech Therapist. She is forced out of her apartment when there a fire. Chloe, a little girl with a speech problem has been under Hadley's care. After fire Chloe quits talking Hadley ends up working with Monroe which don't set well with his parents. Monroe gives everything up to be with Hadley. They adopt foster kids as well as have some of their own. ( )
  squiresj | Jan 22, 2018 |
The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall is a departure from the best-selling author’s usual Amish genre. This new venture is a treat! While the setting may be different, this Christmas novella is still filled with the same heart that fans have come to love. My book club is reading this book later this month, and I look forward to a lively discussion.

Hadley and Monroe are just seventeen years old when they fall in love. Vowing to stay together, they are soon ripped apart by false accusations, family pressures, and obstacles stacked against them. Nearly 10 years later, as Hadley is close to reaching her dream of becoming a licensed speech therapist, another unfortunate fire and a hurting little girl throw the two together. But there are a number of past secrets that work to keep them separated yet again.

The authors set up a no-win situation for Monroe and Hadley in their early years. Both characters feel deeply, but their vulnerability, inexperience, and young age work against them. They are trapped by others’ perceptions and prejudices. I felt they were realistically portrayed in the early part of the book. But while Hadley’s character continues to be credible (I really liked her!), I found Monroe naive and immature even as an adult. For someone with many achievements and a great deal of responsibility, his reliance on his parents seems a bit unbelievable. But his character grows up and grew on me. By the end of the book he is a man of convictions and principles. Supporting characters are well-developed, especially Elliott and Trent. The Gift of Christmas Past is no fluffy novella. Serious issues are explored, and I found myself intrigued by the speech problems presented and the plight of at risk teens, especially those in the foster care system. This book is a meaty read without being too heavy — its great strength. In the prologue, readers find the characters 4 years in the future — and what a great future it is. This one has a happy ending!

The Gift of Christmas Past promises great things for the duo of Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. I look forward to more from the two in the future.


Audience: older teens and adults.

(Thanks to the authors and LitFuse for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.) ( )
  vintagebeckie | Dec 6, 2017 |
I really enjoyed this book and thought the characters were very relatable. The story is gritty and emotional with topics that can leave scars. As I read about the foster care system and how the two main female characters faced that life, I wanted to cry. Everyone wants to be loved and wanted, but for Hadley and her friend that didn’t seem to happen. To often people misjudge others and cause heartache and trust issues.

Hadley had a reputation of lying and stealing. When she tries to make up for her mistakes, it backfires on her. I loved her strength and willingness to overcome her past. I think her anger fueled her desire to prove to herself that she is a valuable person. As she becomes an adult, she runs into someone from her past that destroyed her hopes and dreams. Can she forgive this person? The story is a look at past mistakes, learning to forgive and finding purpose. I loved reading how the characters each had issues that were painful to deal and how the author showed their vulnerable side.

This book takes readers on a journey of two young girls through the foster care system and shares their struggles, and delivers a powerful story of forgiveness. I hope everyone will pick up a copy and let your heart be filled with a sense of peace, love and family.

I received a copy of this book from LitFuse. The review is my own opinion. ( )
  Harley0326 | Dec 1, 2017 |
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