Second chances and the Christmas spirit abound in Mindy Steele’s heartwarming novel, one of faith, love, and the power of community.
Grace Miller believed herself in love with the charming Englischer who eventually broke her heart. Now alone except for the secret life growing inside her, she arrives in the unfamiliar small village of Walnut Ridge, Kentucky, to hide and hopefully gain forgiveness. She is pleasantly surprised, however, to find a tight-knit, welcoming group who help her heart grow right alongside her belly. And with the holidays around the corner, there’s plenty of preparations to occupy her mind. Also occupying her mind? Her strong, protective neighbor, Cullen Graber, the town’s blacksmith, who seems intent on not allowing her to ever suffer alone.
Cullen Graber gave up on love after too many losses early in life. He planned to live out his days focusing on his smithy business, yet the beautiful and mysterious Grace refuses to leave his thoughts. But can they open their hearts to God’s grace and create a new family together before Grace must return home?
My thoughts: This is a beautiful story set during the Christmas season about a young woman who is shunned and set to a shack as part of her punishment. While being sent there is a punishment in itself, blessings come from Grace being there as she gets to know some of the people around her.
I thought that the author did a wonderful job of writing characters with complex personalities and stories that came out as the book progressed. I look forward to reading more by this author!
I received this book from Celebrate Lit. This is my honest review.
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About the Author
Mindy Steele writes sweet Amish fiction as well as romantic suspense. She is an author of 7 novels. The Miller’s Creek Amish series, Christmas Grace, Christmas in Cranberry, His Amish Wife’s Hidden past, and An Amish Flower Farm, releasing 2021. If not gardening or visiting her Amish neighbors, she is on the family farm writing her newest inspiration.
More from Mindy
Behind the scenes with Christmas Grace:
- Many are fascinated with the Amish. Their lifestyle, their faith and family. They are talented craftsman, extraordinary bakers, and wonderful stewards of the land. For me, it was their community as a whole. The Amish are some of the best examples of community. How they tend to one another and work alongside each other even without the need of a disaster or tragedy to occur. I didn’t even realize until a close friend who reads my manuscripts pointed it out, but every book I have written thus far has been mostly centered around community. ( I thought that was cool) Walnut Ridge was the first community I ever fictionalized and I still find myself wanting to go back and writing more about the wonderful people who live there.
- As an avid reader of Amish fiction I wanted to write a story that wasn’t so…perfect, because none of us are. Grace Miller made a mistake, and finds herself having to face the consequences of that. I think we all can relate somewhat to her. Getting to know the three local communities near me, I find myself drawn more to the imperfect and how they carry on more than the upright and grounded. There is a scene where a group of women share their imperfections with Grace. It became a turning point in her life.
- Walnut Ridge, Kentucky is completely fictional, as are all of my book settings currently. I have a love for setting a stage, building a place from the ground up. Although my hero, Cullen Graber was born and raised in Walnut Ridge, Grace Miller was not. Getting to know a character like Grace was a pleasure, but required a lot of research. Although I have seen much of our great country I live less than a half an hour from my birthplace.
- Many books and films paint a picture on the meaning of shunning, but it doesn’t happen as often as you think or to the severity portrayed. I met a woman the year this book was wrote and learned a lot from her own personal plight. She had been shunned from her community and never returned, but still speaks to her mother and siblings, often. Grace was shunned for a time in her community, but even after confessing her sin, asking forgiveness and receiving it from her church and community members, her father sent her away from his house out of shame. As a parent to five, there are few times in those teenaged years I wanted to bann a kid or two, but my heart went out to Grace here.
- I love creating characters who are realistic and relatable, but also swoon worthy and Cullen Graber is one I have had in my back pocket for a while. The gentle giant, slow to speak, fast to listen, and has a past too. I hope you come to find him as stoic yet imperfect as I wrote him.
- There is a scene in the book where Grace finds herself completely alone and facing monsters. (No, I’m not giving out a spoiler here) I have found myself in such a place a time or two as I imagine many have. That moment when fear and bravery collide. This scene was actually inspired by a horrible nightmare while writing Christmas Grace. After reading, I bet you can guess what I’m afraid of.
- I am a panster, not a plotter, but even I was shocked that I wrote this book in three weeks while working full time. I have tried my hand at plotting, but find once my characters start to reveal themselves, I have no more control over the story than I did my children’s choice in careers. My process is scary actually, according to Mr. Steele that is. (wink wink) I get an idea, start drafting out characters, setting, and pace or walk for two days while my head figures it all out. Then its pen and paper until that first draft is complete.
- When you hear the word Amish, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Yep, food. I happen to be a food lover and an expert on the subject. Grace found herself unable to work at the job her aunt had set up for her but found she had a purpose, and a place to fit in. We all have a purpose, and a place in our community.
- When I first signed with my amazing agent, Julie Gwinn, we both had hopes for the first book I wrote. She had planned on pitching it two months later so there was time to polish it until it shined. Then she called me up and asked me how quick I could write a second book to pitch too, not wanting to simply go in with one book I assume, but I know nothing about the stresses of a agents work. My mother insist this is who I am, the one who best performs under pressure, without time to prep, think. I tend to disagree. But in three weeks Christmas Grace was finished and ready for editing. I have wrote two contemporaries in short time spans, but Grace’s book, my first contracted book, will always be that one I always remember. Mostly because of I ran out of coffee twice, forgot to shower and eat a few days and learned it’s alright to talk to yourself if you really need someone to hear your thoughts. Oh, and the publisher bought a second book too. I can’t wait to share A Cranberry Christmas with you.
Much love, Mindy
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A Modern Day Fairy Tale, November 6
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Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, November 8
Musings of a Sassy Bookish Mama, November 9
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To celebrate her tour, Mindy is giving away a copy of her book to five winners!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.