Colleen Coble. All Is Calm, All Is Bright: Two Christmas Novellas. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2015.
Since this week is Thanksgiving, I thought it tremendously appropriate to post a holiday-themed book review on The Books and Biscuits Blog. :) Somehow, the season of Christmas brightens up the ever-shorter days of late fall and early winter in a way that simply makes me smile.
Accomplished author, Colleen Coble releases two novellas in All Is Calm, All Is Bright, returning her readers to Bluebird Ranch and Hope Beach to further build upon two beloved series. “All Is Calm” focuses on the story of Lauren Everman and Brendan Waddell, two souls who find security and hope at the Bluebird Ranch. After being injured, Brendan’s future in the Special Ops is left in question. However, his skills at sniffing out the truth come in handy when Lauren arrives amid questionable circumstances. Lauren left her previous job after being falsely accused of a murder that she witnessed. Together, Brendan and Lauren must find the truth before the culprit threatens the lives of those seeking protection at the Ranch.
“All Is Bright” presents the Christmas-time events at Tidewater Inn, expanding upon the Hope Beach series. Delilah Carter has managed the Tidewater Inn for years. An accomplished organizer, she has also been called upon by her friend, Elin Summerall to plan a Christmas wedding. However, Delilah must contend with Sheriff Tom Bourne when someone tries to run her car off the road, endangering her life. Fortunately, the townspeople of Hope Beach know about Tom’s feelings toward Delilah and eagerly throw them together if it means keeping her safe. With a determined criminal on the loose, Tom must protect Delilah from imminent danger, even as he hopes that it will not ruin his Christmas surprise for her.
Overall, I rather enjoyed reading All Is Calm, All Is Bright. Although I’m not intimately familiar with all of the books in both series, Ms. Coble offers intriguing stories and characters that feel well-developed even in the shortened novella format. The two novellas function as separate stories, with the first related to the Bluebird Ranch novels and the second connected to the Hope Beach series. Together, they offer Christmastime-themed extensions of those series. However, I still felt like I could enjoy them as short stories, independent of the series’ respective contexts and character development. While I don’t normally read (and enjoy!) unfamiliar short stories from other authors, Ms. Coble’s writing style and story development are excellent and thoroughly entertaining. After reading All Is Calm, All Is Bright, I will be tracking down the other novels in these series to find out more about the characters and stories.
Fans of Ms. Coble’s novels who are more familiar with the other stories from the series will particularly relish these stories. However, readers who typically enjoy shorter-form Christian fiction will also appreciate All Is Calm, All Is Bright. For those unfamiliar with Ms. Coble’s stories, she typically incorporates suspense and mystery elements in a Christian romance plotline. As a result, her stories are somewhat darker in tone than contemporary Christian fiction written by such authors as Melissa Tagg and Rachel Hauck.
Special thanks to Thomas Nelson and the Fiction Guild for the advanced copy of All Is Calm, All Is Bright!
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