Friday, January 17, 2014

"Smitten Book Club" by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, & Denise Hunter

About the book:  At a rummage sale, Heather, a member of the Fireside Book Club, discovers a turn-of-the-century romantic advice book written by a once-famous Smitten, Vermont, resident. When she shares the precious volume with her friends in the club, they find clues about a hidden treasure rumored to be buried in their tiny town.

As Heather, Abby, Lia, and Molly take turns reading the book, each projects onto it her own literary tastes. Heather sees it as a mystery. Abby discovers delicious dashes of Jane Austen. Lia sees in it the idealism of a bygone day. And Molly just wishes they'd made the book into a movie!

One by one, each of the women finds romantic love—often in spite of the historic book’s advice. And in searching for the legendary gold, the friends discover the best kind of treasure. The kind that brings hope and healing to each of their hearts.

My thoughts:  Smitten Book Club is the third book in a series that tells the story of the charming little town (or village) of Smitten, Vermont.  The Smitten community is a caring, close knit one that came together to rescue the little town itself from dying by creating a tourist attraction for romantic get-aways.

In Smitten Book Club the community has come together to take care of Molly and her son Noah who are left when Molly’s husband died as a fireman. But Molly isn’t the only one with a story that needs telling and lives that need mending or completion. We have three other ladies – Heather, Lia, and Abby – who with Molly make up the Book Club. Their newest acquisition in the book club is an old book written by a long ago resident of Smitten who was actually an ancestor of Molly’s deceased husband. This book is the century-old Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship.  Not only do our four ladies find clues to love and courtship, there are other hidden clues within its pages. And they go exploring.

This is a contemporary Christian anthology of four novellas. Each tells the story of one of the ladies and is written by a different novelist.  Colleen Coble writes about Heather in Love By the Book, Kristin Billerbeck tells Abby’s story in Shelved Under Romance, Dianne Hunt delves into A New Chapter for Lia, and Denise Hunter finishes the collection with Molly’s story of Happily Ever After.  And the four authors have done a fantastic work in creating a flowing story with no glitches in characters, settings, or moods.

The overall story is one of community helping and pulling together to help one of their own – Molly. But it also tells how community can be there to help and support each and every member of the community.  And since this is about life and how it plays out day-by-day, it also involves romance. Each lady finds love and their stories are sweetly told.  I think you’ll find that these are folks you’d like to have as neighbors of your own.

DISCLOSURE: I received a complimentary copy of Smitten Book Club from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. No compensation was received for this review. Opinions expressed are solely my own.

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