Book Club: A Very Country Christmas

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Author: Various (Fiona Greene, Alissa Callen, Rachael Johns, Juliet Madison, Victoria Purman)
ISBN: 9781489248244
RRP: $29.99
Publisher: Harlequin
Copy: Courtesy of the Publisher

A Very Country Christmas is a sweet little selection of Christmas treats from some talented Australian authors. Looking at the authors included I knew that I had to have this book, I may think it’s way too early for Christmas cheer but I couldn’t miss out.

Point to note going in, not all of these stories are brand new but possibly the first time they’ve been in print so still a little special.

I’m not sure if I want to review each story individually because it will make for a very long review, so maybe I will do mini reviews. Each story is a small town romance set in the Christmas season; our leads are damaged and definitely not looking for love and that’s about where the similarities end.

Under Christmas Stars by Alissa Callen is a brand new story set in the rural region of Woodlea and Reedy Creek. I was distracted for the first few chapters because the setting seemed familiar, and then I realised this is the same region as The Long Paddock and some of the same characters.

Freya George is a city girl who has taken on the teaching position at Reedy Creek school where she has fallen for the students, and the tiny town. A mishap with a truck sees her have to leave her accommodation for a while and is taken in by Drew Macgregor, a single farmer married to the family farm.

Woodlea and it’s residents has had a pretty big couple of years and could do with a happy holiday season, Freya loves the holidays and is determined to make it a memorable Christmas for everyone around her.

This is a sweet story of resilience and learning to give yourself a break. You can’t always go it alone and sometimes you just need to take a chance. It’s a story of small towns banding together to get through.

The story has great flow and pacing with just enough information on the characters to satisfy in a story of this length. I was interested and invested and would be interested to see if we get a glimpse of these characters again in Callen’s upcoming release The Red Dirt Road.

Home For Christmas by Fiona Greene is a story that is getting it’s first taste of print, and is the first work I have read by Fiona Greene. I love the premise, it’s a little bit quirky and was very well written. Greene covers a lot of ground in a story that comes in at a little over 100 pages, alright it’s 124 (ish) but it spans over 12 months. This seems like a lot in a short page count but Greene tackles it well and left me feeling quite satisfied with the story.

Layla Parsons comes from a military family and this is her first Christmas on her own; deciding which traditions to keep, which to adjust and which to allow to peter out. One tradition she kept was to send a Christmas gift to an Australian serviceman serving overseas, she changed it up a little and left contact details for the family business Bonsai Christmas, something her father never did.

Sergeant Tate McAuliffe wasn’t expecting a parcel at Christmas and he certainly wasn’t expecting to unwrap gifts that were impersonal but such a perfect match for him. The gift touched him and he felt compelled to send a thank you, sparking the beginning of an email conversation neither knew they were missing.

The Kissing Season by Rachael Johns is a story that I read and reviewed when it was first released back in 2013 so if you want to read my complete review I have linked it here.

Hannah Elliott is the only daughter, she’s also the only Elliott who wanted to expand horizons and get out of the small beachside town she grew up in. Her brothers remained in town; entering the family furniture business, finding life partners and settling down. Hannah travelled the world and has just returned with secrets bigger than the failed Vegas marriage. She is determined to start a new life; sedate, celibate and respectable but she wasn’t expecting to run into Matteo Della Bosca.

This is quite a sweet little romance that is focused as much on family as it is on romance. There is also a follow up from this story about the Elliott family called The Next Season which is available digitally.

12 Daves of Christmas by Juliet Madison is quirky and amusing with quite a different premise, and a completely new take on the 12 Days of Christmas song – which I ended up singing as I read each new line.

I don’t want to say too much because this one is sweet and funny, and could easily be spoiled.

Abby Solomon is a terminally single romance author who discovered her love of the genre through her grandmother, who has recently passed away. The story opens with Abby trying to meet her latest deadline, for which she is extremely behind, when a delivery of her grandmother’s romance collection arrives.

Deadline be damned, Abby sets off on a quest to find a very particular Dave and on her list are 12 Daves, all to be met starting from December the 1st. Will one of the Dave’s be the right one?

I laughed out loud in this one and it was a great read; light and fun but still with a serious side. Loved it and this is the first time the story has been available in print.

Christmas at Remarkable Bay by Victoria Purman is a brand new story set in the fictional South Australian beachside town of Remarkable Bay, the setting for The Three Miss Allens. The two stories are completely separate but there are a couple of cameo appearances by characters from The Three Miss Allens.

Mara is a teacher taking some time out over Christmas in Remarkable Bay, trying to avoid a burn out due to concern for a student.

George is a police officer house sitting for his partner, unused to a Christmas on his own but determined to do all he can for his partner.

A booking mix-up for Christmas lunch sees the two thrown together for an awkward lunch; and then in the way of small towns they run into one another regularly.

Christmas at Remarkable Bay is about two people who are totally invested in their jobs and sometimes maybe care a little too much. The story sees them work together to help a troubled teen and bring the magic of Christmas to all of them.

A Very Country Christmas is book #46 for the Australian Women Writer’s Challenge 2017.

A Very Country Christmas is published by Harlequin and is available now through Angus & Robertson Bookworld, Booktopia and where all good books are sold.

Thanks to Harlequin 20 of our Beauty and Lace Club members will be reading A Very Country Christmas so please be aware there may be spoilers in the comments below.


19 thoughts on “Book Club: A Very Country Christmas

  1. A big thank you to Harlequin Publishers and of course Beauty and Lace for supplying this ‘A Very Country Christmas’ book, a compilation of short stories by five different authors.

    What a success this book will be. Jam packed with stories set to please most readers. Some authors I was already familiar with, others were new.

    Short Story 1 by Alissa Callen ‘Under Christmas Stars’ introduces characters with grit and emotional wounds, having to overcome obstacles in order to find true love. The reader moves with the characters throughout their lives. The author offers believable characters set in realistic, relatable country life. A great story!

    Short Story 2 by Fiona Green ‘Home For Christmas’. The author has given us a great depiction of life in the armed forces, the difficulties and insecurities of the soldiers and their loved ones. It was a lovely story but I found it became a little tedious when depicting a blossoming distant relationship in the form of email entries. I would have liked to have seen more face to face time for the characters story to develop. Known the less, a good story.

    Short Story 3 by Rachael Johns ‘The Kissing Season. I’m usually a big fan of Rachael but I must say this book felt contrived and the story line unrealistic. A girl experiencing many past failures in life falls for a hunk in two weeks, they bond and he commits to her and her unborn baby whilst then living happily ever after. Argghh!

    Short Story 4 by Juliet Madison ’12 Daves of Christmas’. This was an equal favourite for me. Although the story line is fictional; a deceased grandmother appears to her granddaughter as a ghost in order to track down her past real love and return his gift of long ago. Spending days on a car trip reveals some beautiful emotions and inner feelings of these two main characters. An endearing, heart warming story. The author has succeeded beautifully in depicting such depths of character in such a short story format.

    Short Story 5 by Victoria Purman ‘Christmas at Remarkable Bay’ – my other equal favourite. I loved this story. In only 120 pages the author has managed to capture such intricate, alluring, interesting characters. The story line is unexpected and highly engaging.

    Overall a pleasurable book that will leave people very happy to have received this as a Christmas pressie this year.

  2. Absolutely wonderful!!! A Very Country Christmas is a book to delight just about anyone who loves good Australian authors and it is a Christmas present must buy for many. It’s been quite some time since I’ve had as much joy and pleasure from a book that left me feeling totally satisfied and uplifted – and that’s saying a lot!
    Five mini novels, all with a Christmas theme, all love stories, make up this glorious book. I don’t believe it is necessary to review each section as Michelle has done this and I would find it difficult to make sure there were no spoilers. I “discovered” new (to me) authors, grew to love so many characters, delighted in the different styles of writing and the beautiful, but in no way soppy love stories. Despite having a similar theme, the stories were so different but all with beautifully rounded characters, all special. From the beautiful and meaningful cover to the last word, this book is special.
    It would make a wonderful Christmas gift for special people and the stories will stay with me well after Christmas. It’s as lovely a book as I’ve read – and I have a very long list of wonderful books.
    I can’t thank Beauty and Lace enough for the opportunity to enjoy this so much. Thank you too to Harlequin Mira and to Alissa Callen, Fiona Greene, Rachael Johns, Juliet Madison and Victoria Purman for writing so beautifully. The editing is brilliant as each of the five mini novels is so different, even though the theme is constant. I could not have enjoyed this book more than I did.

  3. A truly enjoyable book. A perfect Christmas gift for anyone that you’re not sure what to buy for (or any book lover on your gift list). I thoroughly loved this collection of stories. All the themes I love, romance, Christmas, Australian countryside. This collection is the perfect addition to your beach bag. The stories are just long enough to engage during an afternoon lying on the sand.

    Thank you so much to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I thoroughly recommend this book

  4. This was a wonderful book written by awesome Australian authors, many of which I had never heard of but certainly would look out for in the future.

    Each story followed a loose theme of Christmas and Australia but each story was unique and took this theme in a different direction. What was great about this book, was that despite its size (its pretty big) each of the stories are quick to read which is perfect for starting and finishing each story in a short amount of time. This means that you can read each story in a sitting or two which plays right into a summer time book.

    My favorite book was Under Christmas Stars.

  5. ‘A Very Country Christmas’ is fun, light-hearted and great holiday reading. 5 romances. Perfect for taking on a trip. The stories are enjoyable and even though they are technically ‘short stories’ they are substantial and not necessarily a ‘one session read’.
    I love Australia and we really do have some wonderful authors. I also love reading about Australia. This is a smart and an enjoyable book.

  6. A Very Country Christmas is a delightful read of 5 Australian Christmas themed stories, each by a different author.
    Each story was around 140 pages,so perfect to enjoy over a night or two. Easy and fun to read.
    Thanks to Beauty and Lace, and Harlequin books for the chance to read these nice stories.

  7. A Very Country Christmas is a beautiful collection of five mini Christmas stories that would make a lovely Christmas present for someone special.

    All five romantic and stories with an Australian Christmas theme were written by different authors and were such a pleasure to read. I was absorbed in each small town country story and enjoyed reading about the lovable characters. They were all feel-good stories, just perfect for this time of year.

    Thank you very much Harlequin, Beauty and Lace and all the authors – Alissa Callen, Fiona Greene, Rachael Johns, Juliet Madison and Victoria Purman.

  8. A Very Country Christmas is an Aussie sampler of five romantic short stories set in the country. Not only set in the Land of Oz but written by Australian authors too; Alissa Callen, Fiona Greene, Rachel Johns, Juliet Madison and Victoria Purman.

    I found that the books didn’t seem that ‘short’ after all with almost 600 pages of reading material. I was easily immersed as all stories were light, easy and enjoyable reads. The beauty of a collection of stories is getting a taste of a variety of Authors, my favourite being Home for Christmas by Fiona Greene.

    So grab your copy and wrap it up, it’s a perfect Christmas gift!

    Thank you Beauty and Lace Book Club and Harlequin Mira Publishing for the reading opportunity, I am more than happy to recommend this book.

  9. A Very Country Christmas is a selection of five Australian short Stories set around Christmas time.
    There are stories from the following authors, Alissa Callen, Fiona Greene, Rachel Johns,Juliet Madison and Victoria Purman.
    The stories are uplifting feel good stories that are well written and definitely enjoyable.
    I read them all over two days.
    I enjoyed all five stories but my favourite was ‘”Under Christmas Stars’ by Alissa Callen. Having read her novel’The Long Paddock’ I enjoyed revisiting the characters from this book.
    Thank you Beauty and Lace and Harlequin Mira Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read and review this book.

  10. This was such an easy read and although I preferred some of the stories over others, because they weren’t long stories they were all enjoyable in their own way.
    Under Christmas Stars was probably my favourite and I was delighted to find the characters were familiar from Alissa’s book ‘The Long Paddock’ which I also really enjoyed reading. Am really keen to see her next book now! The 12 Daves of Christmas was gorgeous and even made me cry! A really touching story. I found Home for Christmas a little frustrating as moved very quickly for 2 people that knew nothing about eachother but were thinking about a relationship after only a couple of emails. Bit unrealistic for my liking. The Kissing Season was similar in that it moved way too quickly but was fun to read so didn’t mind as much. Christmas at Remarkable Bay was an easy read that I didn’t love but I didn’t hate either so was another good one.
    Really loved reading this book so a BIG thank you (and a Merry Christmas!) to Beauty and Lace and Harlequin for giving me the chance to indulge.

  11. I really enjoyed reading this compilation of five short stories, tied together by the common theme of Christmas. The stories were each quite different, yet similar enough that the reader who is interested in this book would enjoy them all. They were all based on love but each in a different way. The book is quite large at nearly 600 pages long, but each story is only a little over 100 pages each so they don’t take a huge amount of time each.

    It is hard to pick a favourite story from the book as they were all really enjoyable in their own ways, but if I was forced to choose I would probably go with the third story which was The Kissing Season by Rachael Johns as I really enjoyed the style of writing in this one as well as the story line.

    For a quick overview:
    1. Under the Christmas Stars – this was a sweet romantic story with a feel good vibe and a bit of a happy ending
    2. Home For Christmas – this was a sweet story based on two strangers and their letters (emails) which were included for us to read as well
    3. The Kissing Season – this was an entertaining story based on Hannah and Matt who
    4. 12 Daves of Christmas – this was completely different to I was expecting with a supernatural element but it was an enjoyable read
    5. Christmas at Remarkable Bay – was really interesting to read as I have read the Three Miss Allens before but didn’t know this was by the same author and linked to this story in small ways. At first I thought it was a coincidence and then I realised!

    Overall, a really enjoyable read!

  12. Thank you to Harlequin Publishing and Beauty and Lace for the advance copy of A Very Country Christmas.
    If you like a nice clean romance then this collection of five novellas is well worth a read. Five stories from five different Aussie authors.
    All of them were well written and entertaining. I’m very fussy when it comes to spelling and grammar and I have to say I did find a few places were I had to reread a sentence but it was only a few. It could be blamed on too many late nights reading.
    I’d definitely recommend this collection.
    A great gift idea for the fast approaching festive season.

  13. Thank you to Beauty and Lace book club and Harlequin publishers for the copy of ‘A Very Country Christmas’.
    This is a compendium of short stories by Australian authors and while I didn’t love all of the stories, I certainly enjoyed them all! I did love all the different styles of writing and the authors varying views on Christmas.
    The stories are short, very sweet and often funny. With a hectic life at the moment, short, light, stories are best for me as I can dip in and out as time allows. I was amazed at the emotions that the various authors were able to invoke in such a short word count and often found myself laughing out loud while reading some of them – which earned me a few strange looks from those sitting nearby.
    This collection has allowed me to renew my acquaintance with some of my favourite Aussie authors and to discover new favourites that I will definitely be reading more of!

  14. Thank you for the chance to read ‘A Very Country Christmas’ book. It was different reading shorter stories and seeing how they could be tied up in fewer pages. I enjoyed the change and the stories were all totally different. This worked well, especially if you weren’t as taken with one story there was always another one to entrance.
    Under the Christmas Stars by Alissa Callen – this was a nice story about country life and two people whose pasts were affecting their present and future. They had to try and work past those together to see if they had a future. This book also highlighted life on the land.
    Home for Christmas by Fiona Green – this was such a different story of two people being brought together by a care package sent to a soldier. I liked that it was different to anything I had read and intrigued me as to whether this could actually work.
    The Kissing Season by Rachael Johns – this was a story of a girl going back to her family while hiding her pregnancy from them, and her falling for the guy who hasn’t been in town for a while. This one was a little more unrealistic in the time frame, but I did like their interactions.
    12 Daves of Christmas by Juliet Madison – I wasn’t sure about this story as the girl went on a road trip accompanied by her recently deceased grandmother in search of the love of her grandmother’s life. Once I got used to it, it was a nice read – sweet, funny, sad and ultimately hopeful.
    Christmas at Remarkable Bay by Victoria Purman – this story was probably my favourite as the story ran fairly true, even in the shorter time. It was about a girl wanting to go away and be on her own at Christmas, and a policeman house sitting on his own over the Festive Season facing his own demons. Their story was realistic, real and showed different sides to life.
    This book would appeal to most, as there were five different types of tales celebrating country life and Christmas.

  15. I quite enjoyed the lightness of this book, enjoyed the short stories but a lot of them I felt I was just getting into the story and it ended! Each were great reads though

  16. Thank you to Harlequin Publishing and to Beauty and Lace for the chance to read and review this book.

    I had not read the works of a lot of the authors included so I was a little unsure to begin with but I am happy to report that I was pleasantly surprised. Another new aspect to me was the short stories but after having read a large number of larger books in the surrounding months they did make a nice change.

    The rural settings in each story were beautiful and the characters had you cheering for them or booing as appropriate.

    I highly recommend this collection and will endeavour to read more from each of the included authors!

  17. A collection of 5 delightful romantic stories set in country Australia. All stories were entertaining and fun!
    This is the perfect Christmas / holiday present for any romantic. The settings of each story sucked you into our beautiful landscape. You get to meet all sorts of characters from a heartbroken teacher who escapes the city to a lonely soldier on service in the Middle East.
    The stories were short but long enough for you to get your teeth stuck into it and feel satisfied at the end!
    I highly recommend this to all my friends.

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