Kimber here. I’m gonna do that stretchy-yawny thing this morning just for you. Cuz Christmas is coming and Mom loves Christmas! No idea what that means. But if Mom loves Christmas, then I do too!
So today I’m waking up just in time to introduce – or remind – you to/about one of Mom’s favorite authors: Richard Paul Evans. Aka: The “King of Christmas Fiction.” Cuz sure as Santa’s makin’ his list and checkin’ it twice, Richard Paul Evans releases a new Christmas-ish novel every year about now.
Brimming with inspiration and hope while neatly sidestepping sappy, Richard’s gentle, uplifting stories are a great choice for curl-up-near-the-fireplace seasonal reading! And I oughtta know! But I’ll let Mom fill ya in. Take it away, Mom!
The typical Evans holiday-ish storyline is pretty simple: Searching for Love. Found Love. Lost Love. Regained Love. There’s usually a generous dose of hope and healing in the mix.
Formulaic? Yes. But he’s a #1 New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and has penned more than forty novels. Per his website, “there are currently more than thirty-five million copies of his books in print worldwide, translated into more than twenty-four languages.” Besides. There’s enough originality and freshness within each story so it works.
What also works is the format. Evans’ seasonal novels typically open with a brief Prologue. It serves as a teaser or a Preview of Coming Attractions, grabbing the reader’s interest and reeling them in as they glide into chapter one. Chapters are headed with either pithy quotes or a journal entry from the protagonist.
Evans’s latest holiday offering is The Noel Collection. I read all the books in the collection (thus far) in less than a week. Like this:
The Noel Collection
The Noel Diary, 2017
The redemptive tale of a man receives the best Christmas present he could ask for: the chance to re-write the past.
A bestselling romance author hasn’t been home for almost twenty years–not since his mentally ill mother kicked him out of the house when he was just sixteen. When a lawyer calls just before Christmas to inform him that his estranged mother has died and left her house to him, Jacob Churcher returns to settle the estate and maybe reconcile with his painful past. As Jacob digs through the detritus of his mom’s house, he uncovers a diary left by someone named “Noel.” Another woman also shows up. Rachel is looking for the mother who put her up for adoption thirty years prior.
United by their quest to make sense of the past and rewrite their futures, Jacob and Rachel begin a search for Noel, finding grace and love along the way.
Of the four titles in the collection (thus far), The Noel Diary feels the closest to our old favorite, The Christmas Box.
“Love. There is no greater force in the universe. Now if we’ll only learn to stop getting out of its way.” – The Noel Diary
The Noel Stranger, 2018
Maggie Walthers feels like her world is imploding when her husband of nine years is arrested for bigamy. Divorced, disillusioned, and hanging on by a thread, she’s desperate for a second chance at life and love but too scared to risk more heartbreak or deception.
Urged to climb out of her self-imposed isolation by a dear friend, Maggie wanders into a Christmas tree lot and meets Andrew. He’s handsome and kind and single. He’s also tryhing to start life anew. On the cusp of a new heart-healing happine4ss, Maggie accidentally discovers a dark secret from Mr. Perfect’s past. Uh-oh.
“The measure of love isn’t how much you want from someone. It’s revealed in what you want for them.” – The Noel Stranger
Noel Street, 2019
It’s 1975. Elle Sheen is a single mother who is supporting herself and her six-year-old, African-America son, Dylan, as a waitress at the Noel Street Diner. Elle isn’t sure what to make of William Smith when his appearance creates a stir in the small town of Mistletoe, Utah.
As their lives unexpectedly entwine, Elle learns that William, a recently returned Vietnam POW, is not only fighting demons from his past, but may also have the answer to her own secret pain—a revelation that culminates in a remarkable act of love and forgiveness.
“One cannot understand the power of grace until one has needed it. Or given it.” – Noel Street
After nearly two decades, newly divorced Noel Post returns to her childhood home in Salt Lake City to see her estranged, dying father. Embittered over the past, Noel arrives in SLC hours after her father’s death. She just wants to bury both him and the past and “book” outta Utah back to her job as an editor for a hot shot New York publisher.
But in a one fell swoop Noel loses her husband, her father, her apartment, and her job. What she thought would be a brief visit turns into something more as she inherits the bookstore her father fought to keep alive. Meanwhile, mysterious letters addressed to Noel keep showing up at BobBooks. Noel assumes they’re from her long-lost love, Dylan. But are they?
The Noel Letters is my favorite in The Noel Collection. Brimming with all things bookish as well as a gentle message regarding the healing power of forgiveness, it’s both a seasonal and a bibliophile’s delight!
“A purpose of human life, no matter who is controlling it, I to love whoever is around to be loved.” — Kurt Vonnegut, as quoted in The Noel Letters.
Kimber: Richard’s latest book, The Christmas Promise, was released last month. Mom’s like #5,856 in the queue at The Book Place. So. Can we get back to you on that?
Now if I could just remember what I did with Mom’s Christmas stocking…. Hmmm…