Smitten Book Club

( 14 )

Overview

The century-old Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl ...

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Smitten Book Club

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Overview

The century-old Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!

The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.

Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends’ romantic exploits.

When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.

What’s more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold—exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?

In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of the Gentlewoman’s Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781410468147
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 5/28/2014
  • Edition description: Large Prin
  • Pages: 468
  • Sales rank: 982,739
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

USA Today best-selling authorColleen Coble has writtenseveral romantic suspense novels including Tidewater Inn, Rosemary Cottage,and theMercy Falls, Lonestar, and Rock Harbor series. Visit her website at www.colleencoble.com Twitter: @colleencoble Facebook: colleencoblebooks

Kristin Billerbeck is a Christy Award finalist and two-time winner of the ACFW Book of the Year award.Her books include A Billion Reasons Why and What a Girl Wants. Twitter: @KristinBeck Facebook: Kristin-Billerbeck

Denise Hunter is the bestselling author of The Convenient Groom and The Trouble with Cowboys. She has won The Holt Medallion Award, The Reader's Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist. Twitter: @deniseahunterFacebook: authordenisehunter

Diann Hunt writes heart-warming stories with a rose-colored view of the world. Author of 25 books, many of them award winners, Diann lives in Indiana with her husband Jim. Visit her website atdiannhunt.com. Twitter: @DiannHunt

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Read an Excerpt

Smitten Book Club


By Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter

Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2014 Kristin Billerbeck, Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4016-8716-8



CHAPTER 1

Mountains of donated boxes teetered against the west wall when Heather DeMeritt entered the Smitten library. The building had been renovated a few months earlier and still held a trace of that new smell in the brown carpet. The oak bookshelves that housed the library's growing collection and the matching tables still shone with newness. Several businesses had donated the bank of computers lining one wall.

Heather spoke to several friends, then turned to eye the job she'd come to do. She was prepared to work, but the sheer number of books surprised her.

Her friend and fellow book club member, Abby Gray, motioned to her. Abby was the Smitten librarian, though she was much too pretty to fit the stereotype, even with her blond hair perpetually up in a bun.

Heather threaded through the throng to reach Abby's side. "This is going to take awhile."

Abby's cheeks were flushed. "Isn't it exciting? So many people want to help Molly."

Their good friend Molly Moore had recently lost her husband in a tragic fire. He was the only volunteer fireman to die in recent memory, and Smitten was still reeling. As was Molly.

Abby waved vaguely. "You can start there."

Heather opened the nearest box and began to lift out the books to put in sale piles ranging from one dollar to five. Five dollars was too much to pay for some of these books, but it was for a good cause, and everyone would feel great about helping.

An hour later her throat was scratchy, and her nose was stuffy from all the dust. But she'd made progress.

"Need some help?" Elliana Burton asked. Lia, as her friends called her, was the kindergarten teacher at the elementary school in town. She usually had a crayon stuck behind one ear and a slash or two of color on her arms or hands from Crayola markers, but today she looked fresh and carefree in a silky blue top over jeans that hugged her slim hips.

"I'll take you up on it," Heather said. "We might finish in time for coffee at Mountain Perks."

There was only one towering stack left. She lifted down the top box and opened it. A cloud of dust wafted out, and she wrinkled her nose.

Lia waved her hand in front of her face. "Some of these are old. They might be worth some money."

Heather took out the top book, a thick tome bound in green leather. The cover was in surprisingly good condition. She eyed the title, then burst out laughing. "Look at this. Have you ever heard of it? The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship."

She laughed again as she opened the book. "Look at this opening, Lia. It claims the reader who understands these patterns and uses them will find true love. Pearl Chambers."

"Yes, she was a local author. Pretty famous back in her day. Wasn't she related to Molly's husband in some way? His maternal great-grandmother or something?" Lia peered over her shoulder at the place where Heather's finger pointed. "I could use a little luck like that. How about you?"

Heather's smile faded. "I don't think so. Romance is overrated. And look at this advice." She read it aloud. "'A young lady should not allow a man to address her by her first name.' A bit outdated, wouldn't you say?"

"Maybe so." Lia's eyes went soft. "Honey, don't swear off all men just because you ran into a rat. The right fellow is out there." She tucked the book under her arm. "In fact, I'm going to buy it for you. You like mysteries. This one is about deciphering behavior. It's right up your alley."

In spite of Heather's protests, Lia marched to the library desk and plunked down ten dollars for the book.

Too bad it would take more than a book to turn Heather's love life around. Since her work was done, she carried the book to one of the tables and began to leaf through it. A yellowed envelope fell out. The return address showed it was from a Beatrice Chambers, and there was a paper inside. Curious, Heather pulled it out. Her brow furrowed when she began to read.

Son, as I write this, I know you have no interest in this old book, but I believe when you find this letter, what I have to say will change everything. Your grandmother found a gold mine in the hills, and left the clues to its location in this book. I'm convinced of it. I've never quite figured out all of the clues. I think you can. Be diligent, and use the money wisely when you find it. Give it to someone needy or help fund a good cause. Turn it around for good in some way. Good luck.

Your loving mother


* * *

The book club members sat in comfortable chairs around the fireplace in the back of Lookaway Village Books in downtown Smitten. A small fire gave off a welcome glow that chased away the early March chill.

Heather welcomed the group with a smile. "Thank you all for coming. I know we all feel Molly's absence tonight, but I'm glad we're together. Before we start talking about The Art of Racing in the Rain, Abby, would you give a report on the upcoming book sale?"

Abby's smile stretched across her face when she stood. Dressed in jeans and a red sweater, she looked fresh and appealing. "The donations have far surpassed what we expected. The sale will be held on Saturday, and if we sell even half the stock we'll make enough to pay for Curtis's funeral." She sat down to a soft wave of applause.

Shelby Majors's iPhone buzzed, and she rose to answer it, her long brown hair falling over her shoulders. "Nick is outside," she reported. "He and some of the other firemen want to talk to us about what we might do to help Molly."

Natalie Smitten paused as she was pouring the coffee she'd brought from her shop, Mountain Perks. "Good, bring them in. There has to be something else we can do." She set down the thermos, then sat back down.

Shelby hurried to the door and pulled it open. The clean rush of cold air dissipated the scent of smoke. Nick Majors stomped the snow from his boots, then removed his hat before leading the group of men to the fireplace. The men were even more somber than the women, if that was possible. But then they'd been there when Curtis died.

Heather clenched her fists when she saw one of the men with Nick. She couldn't breathe, couldn't tear her gaze away from the face that still haunted her dreams, even after nearly four years. Paul Mansfield's gaze swept the group, then stopped when he saw her. His eyes widened when he saw her. Did he still remember the way she'd thrown herself at him the last time he was in town? Of course he did.

"Paul!" Natalie launched herself from the sofa and flung her arms around her brother's neck. "When did you get to town? How long can you stay?"

Paul hugged his sister. The two looked alike, same dark hair and eyes. Paul towered over most men at six foot four, and his shoulders strained the fabric of his oh-so-proper oxford shirt.

Heather forced herself to look away. What was he doing here?

She saw several of the single women eyeing him. Paul turned female heads wherever he went with his dark good looks and air of competence. The glasses perched on his perfectly chiseled face added to his sex appeal in some indefinable way, as did the lock of hair constantly falling over his forehead.

Natalie released him and stepped back. "I had no idea you were coming."

"You mean you didn't get the memo? Darn, I thought sure I sent it." He grinned. "There's time enough for that later. Let's concentrate on helping Molly."

"You guys have some ideas?" his sister asked.

Nick took the cup of coffee Shelby offered him. "Yeah, we've been talking. We've never lost one of our own before."

Heather's eyes welled, and she dug a tissue out of her pocket. "I was at Molly's today. She's devastated. She said the house is so empty without him." Several of the other women dabbed their eyes too.

"I still don't understand how it happened," Julia Grant burst out. Her favorite Jimmy Choo shoes showcased her long legs. "Why did he even go in there?"

Heather didn't want to look at Paul, didn't want to notice the way he was even more handsome than the last time she'd seen him. "It seems so odd that Curtis would go inside when the firemen had been told everyone was out."

Nick's mouth was grim. "He was rescuing the family dog. He tossed it out the bedroom window, then turned to get out himself."

And didn't make it. The ceiling collapsed on the veteran volunteer fire fighter. The funeral yesterday had been the largest ever seen in town, with the line spilling out the door of the funeral home and clear down in front of the newly renovated train station. It had taken three hours in line just to get inside the door.

"So, about helping Molly?" Tess Stevenson prompted. The bookstore owner turned her blue eyes Nick's way.

He nodded. "Molly still has Smitten Expeditions. She's got a good guide too. But she's suddenly a single mom with no idea of how to run a business. She'll need our support in lots of ways. Money is easy. The town will give generously. The other things will take dedicated persistence this week, and the next week, and the next. Babysitting, helping with figuring out the books, planning the future. You get the picture. The renovations Curtis had started need to be finished. Some of us can help with that. And we want to be there for his boy. He's lost his daddy." Nick pressed his lips together.

Reese Parker pulled a pen and note pad from her purse. "Babysitting, construction work, accounting advice." She paused and chewed on the end of her pen. "Anything else?"

"She's had a part-time job, but she'll have to quit that. It will take all her efforts to make a go of the business. So she'll probably need more financial help than just paying for the funeral," Lia said.

"I'm not good at the other things you mentioned, but I could clean her house every week," Ellie Draper said. "I can bring in dinner once a week too. I'll organize a food brigade so she doesn't have to worry about that for a while."

"And I'll take up a collection for funeral costs," Abby said. "Just in case we can't sell enough old books to cover the expense."

A chorus of offers filled the air, and Reese jotted them down. "Okay, we'll get this plan put into place. I'll be contacting each of you with your assignment."

Heather's gaze collided with Paul's. He hadn't offered any services. Maybe he was leaving. Again.


* * *

A light still shone out of the bookstore windows. Paul blew warm vapor on his hands and stamped his feet on the concrete as he waited for Heather to come out. Better to get this uncomfortable meeting over with. He'd seen the shock in her eyes when she saw him, and he hadn't done a good job of hiding his own consternation. He'd thought she'd be long gone from here, though if he were honest, he had to admit the thought of seeing her had played a role in his decision to move back to Smitten.

The town had changed since he was last here. White lights sparkled along the street like tiny diamonds. Every storefront wore fresh paint of several colors in the "painted lady" tradition. New streetlights lit the sidewalks, and people milled in the town square even at this hour. The romance destination plan had taken root. He'd played a part in that, and he was eager to see how the new lodge had turned out.

The door opened, and a shaft of light hit the sidewalk. Heather stepped out in a lightweight jacket. Her long blond hair gleamed in the lamplight, and her jeans and knee-high boots accentuated her long legs.

He stepped out from the shadows. "Hi."

She put her hand to her chest. "You scared me."

"Sorry. I wanted to talk to you."

Her lips flattened, and she moved toward the curb. "What about?"

He fell into step beside her as she started across the street. "Can we grab some coffee or something?"

She shot him a look from wide blue eyes like a frightened cat. As well she should after the way he'd treated her.

He pushed up his glasses and gave her his best smile. "I figured we might as well get the awkwardness out of the way. Otherwise we're going to be tiptoeing around each other."

She stopped in the middle of the street and stared at him. "Why are you here, Paul?"

"Can we talk? I'll explain then."

She stared at him as though searching his soul. Her way of looking inside him had been the first thing to attract him. And it had been what sent him running scared from town. He still regretted it. "I'll buy coffee."

She shook her head. "I love Nat, but I don't want her watching over our shoulders. You can come to my house for a minute. I promise to keep my distance." She walked across the street and turned left.

He jogged after her and fell into step beside her. "I'll stop off at the coffee shop and grab us a snack. Be there in ten minutes."

"Okay. I'll see you in a few."

He watched her turn the corner and vanish into the shadows. The hard part was still ahead.

CHAPTER 2

Night, night, Charlie." Relishing the scent of toothpaste and little boy, Heather kissed her son. "Sleep tight."

"Don't let the bedbugs bite," Charlie said. He wrapped his arms around her and planted a wet kiss on her cheek. "Love you, Mommy." The three-year-old sounded sleepily content.

"I love you, honey. Very much." She tucked his stuffed bear into the covers with him, then flipped on his goldfish night-light and backed out of the room. The gentle knock came as Heather walked down the stairs. Her throat tightened as she opened the door to greet Paul. He had a cardboard drink carrier in one hand and a sack in the other.

Lord have mercy, but the man was handsome. The crisp white button-down collared shirt contrasted with his dark, curly hair and tanned skin. His eyes were brown, but a warm golden color that invited you to trust him. She'd made that mistake once.

His smile widened as he stepped into the house. "Nice."

She nodded. "There's a big yard, and I'm able to have a nice garden."

"Organic food, of course," he said.

"Of course. How odd you remember."

An incredulous expression crossed his face.

He handed her a coffee, then took one for himself before settling on the sofa. "Natalie swears these brownies are the bomb even if they're gluten-free. I'm not so sure. I've tasted some of her concoctions."

"They're delicious," she said automatically before dropping onto the chair as far away from him as she could manage.

He regarded her over the rim of his glasses. "I'm moving back to Smitten, Heather. I thought we needed to clear the air between us."

When she managed to get the elephant off her chest, she inhaled. She gulped, then swallowed. "I see. I appreciate the heads-up, and I'll be sure not to bother you."

He exhaled and leaned forward. "I want to apologize for how I acted."

"I'm the one who should apologize." Her face burned as she remembered that night. "I threw myself at you. You did the right thing showing me to the door."

He pressed his lips together and shook his head. "It wasn't that at all."

She didn't want to hear what it was. The humiliation would be too much to bear. She rose. "Well, you've apologized, and so have I. I think the air is clear. We can nod at one another politely in Nat's coffee shop, and there will be no worries. Is that all you had to say?"

Though she knew it was ridiculous, she held her breath with the faint hope he might say he'd never forgotten her. She shook her head at her stupidity.

"What?" he asked.

"Nothing. I'll show you out."

"There's something else. We're going to be working together."

"What does that mean?"

"The town has been donated a plot of land to develop as an organic farm. I'd like you to help me design the beds and the buildings. We're going to put in a pumpkin patch and have hayrides for the kids. We'll have a petting zoo, too, with goats and sheep. There are all kinds of plans for it. I've already cleared it with your boss at the county extension office."

The thought of working in close proximity with him took her breath away, and not in a good way. Being around him tonight had shown her she'd never gotten over him.

She shook her head. "I don't think so, Paul. It would be awkward. There are others at the office who can help you."

"Let's put our personal issues away for the good of the town. I need you, Heather. And let's be honest, you're the town expert on organic farming."

What did she say to that? She loved Smitten, was committed to her little town. And he was right—no one knew more about this, even in her office, than she did.

"All right."

His eyes lit. "Wonderful. I'll pick you up tomorrow and show you what I have in mind. I should have some preliminary sketches by then."

"Mommy?" Charlie stood in the doorway rubbing his eyes. "I had a bad dream."

"You're fine, little man." She sprang to her feet and picked up her son. His warm little body relaxed against her. "Put your head down." She hummed "Amazing Grace," and his lids began to drift downward again. "Sorry," she mouthed to Paul. "I'll be right back." She carried Charlie back to bed and tucked him in. He didn't stir.

She went downstairs and found Paul standing by the window with a pensive expression. "Sorry about that."

"No problem. He's cute. He looks like his daddy?"

It was on the tip of her tongue to tell him her husband had left her when she was six months pregnant, but she'd had all the humiliation she could handle tonight. "Yes."

"I'm glad you're happy. I only wish you the best."

She showed him the door, then leaned against it and let the tears fall.

When she went back to the sofa, she spotted the old book Lia had bought her. How on earth could she find any clues in such an obscure text? Leafing through the fragile pages, she came to a section titled "Encouraging the Male's Attention." The old language made her smile, but her smile faded when she read the last paragraph.
(Continues...)


Excerpted from Smitten Book Club by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter. Copyright © 2014 Kristin Billerbeck, Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Contents

Love by the Book by Colleen Coble....................     1     

Shelved Under Romance by Kristin Billerbeck....................     83     

A New Chapter by Diann Hunt....................     163     

Happily Ever After by Denise Hunter....................     247     


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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 14 )
Rating Distribution

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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 11, 2014

    Smitten Book Club Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter, &

    Smitten Book Club
    Colleen Coble, Diann Hunt, Denise Hunter, & Kristen Billerbeck




    Book Summary: 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.




    Review: I liked the overall theme that the stories kept of the Treasure hunt through the book historic book of advice. It was fun to watch this time into the stories. I liked most of the characters but did not enjoy Molly’s story as much. I felt sorry for her the book opened with the death of her husband. But for me I could not connect with Molly as easily as I did Lia, Heather and even Abby. I like the male characters in all the stories. I think the changing seasons lent itself to the moving of time that led into Molly’s story. I liked Heather’s story the best overall. Usually if I like the first story I tend to enjoy all of them. Despite not connecting with Molly, I did find her spunk to be a plus by her learning to run the company. I think the most moving part for me is that Diann Hunt is now with the Lord and this is her last story. It is bitter sweet for her friends and family left behind. All that being said the book was worth the read and continues in the periphery the characters that have gone before always a real plus when reading a series style book.
    I would like to thank Net Galley and Thomas Nelson for allowing me to read and review this book in return for a free copy and I was never asked to write a favorable review by anyone.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 8, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Hott Synopsis: While preparing for a book sale Heather, Abby

    Hott Synopsis:

    While preparing for a book sale Heather, Abby, Lia find A Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship and discover that it has clues that could lead them to missing gold that would rightfully belong to their dear friend and new widow Molly. As each of them read the book they close in on the clues and learn a lot about themselves.

    Love by the Book
    Heather is still embarrassed about how she acted when Paul shunned her advances but she has a son and divorce paper to prove her poor choice.
    Now Paul is back and is the same playboy he always was – is Heather willing to let her guard down and give Paul a chance?
    Review: Loved it!! Heather is one of those people who is so wrapped up in helping others that she forgets that she isn’t just a mom and employee. She just needs someone to see through the walls she put up for everyone except her closest girlfriends.

    Author: Colleen Coble
    Grade: A
    Ages: 16+

    Shelved Under Romance
    Abby can’t believe it when he friends tell her she acts like a grandmother instead of the twenty-seven year old she is. They insist on new clothes and try to help her be a bit more… young.
    In walks Wyatt, adventurer extraordinaire. Not only has he been crushing on Abby from afar but he also made a death-bed promise to her father to help Abby learn to be more adventuresome.
    Can Wyatt & the girls get Abby to live life a little?
    Review:

    Author: Kristen Billerbeck
    Grade: A
    Ages: 16+

    A New Chapter
    Lia has been in love with Joey since she met him way back in elementary school. She dealt with them only being friends and has patiently waited for God to give her someone to love. Now, he’s back a widowed father needing his friend back – could there ever be more?
    Review: Adorable! I loved Joey’s daughter, Grace. It was a great story to get lost in!

    Author: Diann Hunt
    Grade: A
    Ages: 16+

    Happily Ever After
    It’s been a year since Molly’s husband died and she’s still buried under the debt and lies he left for her to deal with. Can she swallow her pride and ask her only competitor for help? Especially, she this competitor and her husband disliked each other so intensely?
    Review: WOW! A strong finale. I couldn’t put it down!

    Author: Denise Hunter
    Grade: A
    Ages: 16+

    Hott Review:

    What I liked: I LOVED the quotes from the book the girls found. They were absolutely perfect!
    What I didn’t like: It ended :,(

    More…

    Source: Thomas Nelson via Netgalley -- I liked it so much I bought it!
    Grade: A
    Steam: YA
    Setting: Smitten, Vermont
    Series: Smitten Novella Series #3

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 30, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    Smitten Book Club By Coleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diman He

    Smitten Book Club By Coleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diman Heart and Denise Hunter
    Anthology, 4 stores based on the same theme from 4 different authors. Community helping one another..
    .
    Love By The Book by Colleen Coble
    Town of Smitten as in prior books in this saga. The Gentleman's Guide to Love and Courtship, this book is the basis of this anthology.
    Molly has lost her fireman husband, Curtis in a fire and the others try to raise money to help her. The book club sells books and Heather finds an old book guiding one how to attract the opposite looks appealing and a letter drops out that promises clues to the gold mine are in the book. Paul comes to aid to help in the book sale.
    Advice is given at the beginning of each chapter and discussed during the chapter as the women go through Pearl's old photo albums to find more clues to the mine. Paul has returned and he's working on an organic farm project and Heather can help him-she's not gotten over him since they split. Lots of secrets.
    Although there are other books that build the characters and town, you can get a good idea from the current events in this book. Authors don't leave you in the dark about the past.
    Heather is afraid that she still cares for Paul but then she sees him kissing Isabella....
    .
    Shelved Under Romance by Kristin Billerback
    This story in the continuing saga is mostly about Abby, librarian, another book club member. Wyatt really likes books also and has volunteered his time to catalog the whole library into digital format, keeping paper trail.
    The saga continues about the gold mine and the others in the club intervene to take Abby out to update her...
    Heather has given the book to Abby and she's able to uncover a few more clues... Love how Wyatt's mixng up business with pleasure...liked hearing of how his app can help others who are medically challenged.
    He also has a letter from her father and she's agreed to use the tickets... Loved hearing of this adventure! Sad misconceptions about the letter occur-you're so sure they will find one another..
    .
    A New Chapter by Diann Hunt
    This one is about Lia and on Thanksgiving Day she bites into a walnut shell and cracks a tooth. Her mother and others talk her into getting it fixed that day as the dentist owes them a favor. Joey is the dentist when she arrives and they agree to have a coffee after...
    They meet for coffee later and catch up with one another. He's lost his wife and has a child and is living at his relatives house til his house can be built. Lia's mother talks him into renting Lia's apartment upstairs and that way she can watch the child when needed.
    Lia is also given the book from Abby in hopes they can find the gold for Molly. Lia is a school teacher.
    Grace has a problem communicating with others since her mother died but Lia knows sign language. Joey wants to take Grace away for the holidays because he thinks it's too much of a reminder of her mother. Love hearing of Lia's mother and her knitting.
    Reading her bible and the guide help her to see things in a new light and she tells Joey he needs to forgive the man who ran into his wife's car.
    .
    Happily Ever After by Denise Hunter
    This part of the book concentrates on Molly and her son Noah and she knows the business is failing. She does get an offer for help from a competitor and she learns to accept his help.
    She needs to learn the business of giving tours from Gage Turner. Love all the talk of getting ready, right equipment, etc.
    The girls give the book to her in hopes she can find more clues to solve the mystery of where the gold mine is, that could save her life.
    God will get her through the hard times.
    Won this book along with 9 other copies in a Facebook contest. I have read the other Smitten books and liked them.

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  • Posted April 25, 2014

    This was just as good as the original Smitten. It follows the sa

    This was just as good as the original Smitten. It follows the same format and has a mystery that is somewhat addressed throughout. I love the format of the whole story being broken up into small romances. Each complete yet the next one begins where the last one left off and still follows to a final ending. I found it hard to tell that each of the stories was written by a different author. They all blended together well and were very similar. The later ones even included characters from the previous stories.
    They are all feel good stories about the struggles to obtain that right relationship. It was fun to have the mystery finally unfold in the end.

    Just a fun read.

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  • Posted March 1, 2014

    I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of the Smitten books by all

    I have thoroughly enjoyed all three of the Smitten books by all four of these wonderful authors.  All four are best friends and write a fourth of the book each taking on a character to write about.  In The Smitten Book Club, the ladies are trying to help Molly.  Her husband was a firefighter and perished in the line of duty.  She is on very shaky ground financially and all the people in the small town of Smitten come together to try and help her and her young son.  There are fund raisers, searches for a gold mine, and a very old book "Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship".  Filled with deception, mystery, and not the least, romance, you'll find yourself engrossed in their lives, rooting for each character to find their true love.  Because of the death of Diann Hunt in November 2013, this will be the last of the Smitten books.  I will miss the town and the people.  They have seemed like friends.  Colleen Coble, Kristen Billerbeck, Diann Hunt, and Denise Hunter have all written wonderful novels on their own as well.  I highly recommend any book written by any of these wonderful Christian ladies!

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  • Posted February 25, 2014

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    I love the idea of books clubs. I belongs to one for about a ye

    I love the idea of books clubs. I belongs to one for about a year and I really enjoyed going to the meetings and discussing shared reads. Attendance really dipped and then it was ended when they were only a few of us who still came. At some point I would love to find a group to join again, perhaps as my own children get a bit older and I have a free evening, so the opportunity to read and review this book for Litfuse really appealed to me. I have not read either of the other two books in this series, so this can easily stand alone, but I would love to now that I have read this one.



    Each author took a different character and wrote a smaller book within the book from one woman's perspective. They work together chronologically and advance the overall story, while the shorter stories work on their own and as part of the whole.



    Each story is a love story. Two of the characters meet men from their past who they were attracted to or friends with, but who, for one reason or another, left town and never explored where things might have gone. One character meets someone new, but due to her own personal baggage, struggles with whether or not she should trust him and if she believes he is being honest. The last woman has been resistance to change and going outside of the small boundaries she has set for herself for her own life. In each case, when the going gets tough the women turn to prayer and to God to guide them through and show them the way. I don't think that is something a lot of us think about in our love relationships, but if more people took the time to pray for guidance and to trust that there is a plan in place, things might go smoother for a lot of people.



    Underneath the stories of love and trust is a mystery about a gold mine that was supposedly found by the family one of the women married into. People have looked for it for years, but no one knows if it is real or just a legend. At a rummage sale to raise money for Molly, whose husband, Curtis, was a volunteer firefighter who was killed in the line of duty, Heather acquires a book written by one of Curtis' relatives. Inside it is a letter saying that the book holds the clues to finding the treasure, the treasure that Molly's friends see as a way to help her deal with the large debt that was left behind by Curtis' death. Each of the four women highlighted in this book take a turn looking and reading the found volume to see if they can find the clues and solve the mystery.

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  • Posted February 22, 2014

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    Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter

    Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter in their new book “Smitten Book Club” Book Three in the Smitten series published by Thomas Nelson takes us back to Smitten, Vermont.




    From the back cover:   The century-old Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship is no ordinary book club choice. But for the little book club in Smitten, Vermont, it might be their best pick yet!




    The thick, leathery tome Heather pulled out of the dusty cardboard box was definitely coming home with her. Not only was The Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship an appealing curiosity by virtue of its title; it was also written by Smitten, Vermont native Pearl Chambers, a local gentlewoman from three generations back.




    Little did Heather know the repercussions this little curiosity would have on her and her friends’ romantic exploits.




    When Heather and her fellow book club members begin passing the book around, their respective interpretations are unleashed on their respective love lives . . . for better or for worse. Is it a mystery? An idealist fantasy? An intimation of Jane Austen? As romantic love finds its way to each woman, the Guide proves itself both surprisingly prescient and hilariously irrelevant.




    What’s more, a handwritten inscription indicates that the arcane book might hold the only extant clues leading to buried gold—exactly what one of the members needs to keep her house. How could they not go treasure hunting?




    In this remarkable collaborative novel, besties Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, and Diann Hunt tackle the tale of theGentlewoman’s Guide by writing for one book club member apiece. Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, hilarious story of friendship and healing, written by friends for friends.




    Once again we fall in love with the town of Smitten and its people and wish there really were such a place to visit.  This time the focus is on Heather, Abby, Lia and Molly, four friends who not only are trying to read a book for their book club but, because of this book, are also going on a hunt for lost gold.  Technically, “Smitten Book Club” is one story that connects through the lives of the four women.  So that means we get four tales of romance as we watch them change and grow.  All four authors know how to write characters that come alive off the page.  Great storytelling, mystery and romance, what more could you ask for?  I know:  one more sequel!  I recommend this book highly!




    Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Litfuse Publicity Group.  I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.  I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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  • Posted February 20, 2014

    Love Is In The Air! People comes from miles around to the co

    Love Is In The Air!




    People comes from miles around to the cozy town of Smitten where romance seems to emanate from its quaint and scenic charm. Four young women who have lived in Smitten their entire lives have definitely seen the changes that have come to Smitten over the years. In this compilation of four different stories told by four completely different authors, each of these young women's stories unfolds. Their common bond is the Smitten Book Club where they meet on Friday nights and discuss the book of the week, among other things. Romance appears to be in the air where these young women are concerned, as well as to those who come from far and near to discover the ambiance for which Smitten is known. Is it the charm of Smitten and those who dreamily ride in carriages down the streets through town that affects these young women, or is it destiny that true love eventually blossoms in the hearts of these lifelong residents?




    The authors have done a wonderful job of blending the lives of these four women in the town of Smitten. They have obviously worked well together to pull these stories into one amazing novel. Each story is well told with charming detail of both the community and their characters. I feel as if I've been to Smitten through the lives of these young women whose lives have intertwined since childhood, and have seen each other through tough times and happy days. It's a lovely compilation of circumstances and people overcoming somewhat overwhelming obstacles, and helping one another through difficult times to bring one another hope. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the stories told with imagination and romance. I look forward to reading the other books written about Smitten! By all means, pick up a copy and relax with a cup of your favorite beverage, and enjoy!




    Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book through LitFuse Publicity Group in exchange for my honest review. All opinions expressed are my own, and no monetary compensation was received for this review.

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  • Posted February 16, 2014

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    I love visiting this town in Vermont, this is my third visit her

    I love visiting this town in Vermont, this is my third visit here, and hope for more.
    Smitten is now known as the romance capitol, and we are about to embark on four romance adventures, of course, with the help of four writers. Love how they intertwine the stores, and page one seems to end at the end of the last novella.
    We start with Abby, and end with Abby, but enjoy the stories of Heather, Molly and Elliana (Lia]. We are reading a side book through out....The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love & Courtship by Pearl Chambers, a long ago author from Smitten. We also, because of this side book, go on a hunt for gold.
    I love how there is so much support of each other, and are there whenever there is a need. Whether it be a new dress, or holding one another at a time of grief, or directing another down the right path.
    Don't miss this great book, and don't worry if you haven't read the other two, this one is complete by its self. Do yourself a favor and read the other two!

    I received this book through Net Galley, and the Publisher Thomas Nelson, and was not required to give a positive review.

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  • Posted February 12, 2014

    Love by the Book by Colleen Coble This novella starts the book o

    Love by the Book by Colleen Coble
    This novella starts the book off well. The town rallies around Molly in her time of need, and I'm interested to see how that story continues to play out later. Heather is a sweetheart of a character, and I loved how giving she was. When Paul comes on the scene, I could see where this story was going, but I enjoyed the journey, quick as it was. Great start to the collection! [4 stars]

    Shelved Under Romance by Kristen Billerbeck
    Oh, Kristin Billerbeck! I love how her characters are so stereotypical. It definitely adds a bit of humor to the story. :) Abby is the quintessential nerdy, boring librarian who seriously needs a social life. Her friends are so sweet to encourage her to try new things, and Wyatt definitely breaks her out of her comfort zone! The ending is pretty rushed, but I enjoyed Wyatt and Abby's friendship as they learn to look past the obvious to see the true character of the person inside. [3.5 stars]

    A New Chapter by Diann Hunt
    This novella has so many elements that I love in a story—childhood friends reuniting, kids playing a main role in the story, forgiveness as a major theme! Sigh. As Lia and Joey reconnect, I enjoyed getting to know them and see how their relationship grew out of their friendship as kids. While this was a short story at around 80 pages, it didn't feel short, and I think it has a lot to do with the fact they already knew one another. I also adored Lia's mom and Joey's daughter! Sweet story all the way around. It's hard to choose, but I think this one might be my favorite story in the collection. :) [5 stars]

    Happily Ever After by Denise Hunter
    After reading a bit about Molly in the previous novellas, I was pleased to finally read her story. I had such empathy for her as she faced one struggle after another. And I loved Gage—a true hero! The final story in this collection is the longest and has the feel of a complete book, though I would have been happy to read about Molly and Gage for much longer than the 120 pages that Denise gave me! [5 stars]

    Overall
    I've thoroughly enjoyed the previous books in the Smitten series, and Smitten Book Club was no exception! All four authors did a great job including the main characters from the other novellas, and it was fun to continue reading about their stories throughout the other stories. The idea of a book possibly giving clues to a hidden treasure was fun, and I loved the hint of mystery woven throughout the book. With four talented authors contributing to this book, I don't see how anyone could be disappointed! Highly recommended! [4.5 stars]

    I received a free copy of this book from Thomas Nelson through Litfuse Publicity in exchange for my fair and honest review.

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  • Posted February 9, 2014

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    What happens when you combine authentic friendship and the love

    What happens when you combine authentic friendship and the love of writing together? You find warmth, love and the best of Christian Romance with the amazing talents of Colleen Coble, Denise Hunter, Diann Hunt and Kristin Billerbeck in their latest novel Smitten Book Club. Welcome to the town of Smitten, Vermont, now a designated small town romance capital where love abounds where you least expect it! The town has all pulled together to help one of their own, a widow Molly Moore who lost her firefighter husband when a building collapsed on him during a fire. Now struggling to make ends meet, the town rallies around her to lend a hand to a book sale fund raiser at the library to cover the funeral costs. Her friends and fellow book club members Heather DeMeritt, Abby Gray, and Elliana Burton discover a rare treasure buried in the piles of books, The Gentlewoman's Guide to Love and Courtship by long-time town resident Pearl Chambers. The ladies discover a true treasure inside when clues seem to point the way to a undiscovered gold mine which could really bring life changing financial relief to Molly if they can find it. This is where the journey begins as each well-renown author takes a spin at working with each book club member and carries the story through to the end.

    Colleen Coble picks up with her story, Love By The Book which picks up with Heather DeMeritt, who discovers the man she loved and lost has returned to Smitten as part of a more permanent move. Heather has been assigned working with Paul Mansfield to develop a plot of land the town has donated as an organic farm. Along the way, Heather is able to interest Paul in helping her discover what she believes may in fact be the entrance to the gold mine on the vacant property. But will the two be able to put their past differences behind them into order to see what the future has in store for love?

    Kristin Billerbeck picks up the novel with her addition, Shelved Under Romance, takes Abby Gray out of her comfort zone as the town's librarian. Since the death of her father, she has now taken over the care of her elderly mother and along the way, has lost her true identity buried beneath the layers of sweater seats, oversized clothing and comfortable shoes. But is she willing to take a leap of faith with sports extremist Wyatt Tanner as they continue to unravel clues to the buried treasure and discover love where she least expected it?

    Diann Hunt captivates the reader with her addition, A New Chapter in which Elliana Burton who has a fear of doctors suddenly finds herself in need of a dentist when she loses a filling. She never dreams that romance could be hiding beneath the white coat of dentist Joey Oliver, the man she had given her heart to in grade school and had never gotten it back. Will she discover that there is more to life than Anne of Green Gables could predict?

    Finally when Denise Hunter concludes with Happily Ever After with Molly Moore realizing that after all this time, the secrets she uncovers about her marriage with Curtis will lead to a very different path than she ever dreamed possible. But will she be willing to let her business competitor Gage Turner help provide the sound business advice she needs before Smitten Expeditions goes under for good?

    I received Smitten Book Club by Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Diann Hunt and Denise Hunter compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and Litfuse Publicity for my honest review. I did not receive any monetary compensation and the opinions are strictly my own. The best thing about The Smitten Book Club is getting a taste of four different romance writers in one novel. The stories flow so seamlessly you don't realize your making the move from one characters story into another one. The treasure hunt continues as each of the ladies finds more of the clues as they each take turns with the old book of dating and love advice from Pearl Chambers that showcases each new chapter within the short stories. You'll find yourself wondering just how true this really are to current day romance tips and along the way you'll find yourself charmed by the residents of Smitten who show us all what the real meaning of unconditional love really means. I personally give this one a 5 out of 5 stars.

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  • Posted February 6, 2014

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    What happens when four of the best novelists out there get toget

    What happens when four of the best novelists out there get together and write an anthology? A wonderful, full-length novel you're sure to enjoy for years to come emerges.

    Each author, writing in her own style and voice, writes life into each distinctly different character and shows the reader her respective talent. This is the way I prefer to be introduced to a new-to-me author. I've read books by Colleen Coble and Denise Hunter, so I knew I'd like this novel. Throw in new to me authors Kristen Billerbeck and Diann Hunt and wild horses couldn't have stopped me from grabbing a copy.

    Love by the Book - Single mom Heather, written by Colleen Coble, is beautiful, bright, and loving, but she has past regrets she wishes she could erase from her memory. Not the least of which involves handsome Paul. Will she allow her past mistakes ruin something that perhaps was meant to be after all? Or is she doomed to live a life of a single mom raising a son?

    Shelved Under Romance - Librarian Abby, written by Kristen Billerbeck, is shy, timid, and definitely NOT the adventurous type. But good-looking Wyatt wants to prove that she's more than she thinks she is and he's willing to take every single trick he's got to show her how special she truly is.

    A New Chapter - Elliana's story touched my heart. When the man she's loved since childhood comes back to Smitten, she realizes that he may never grow to love her in return. How true to life is that?! Come on, remember that first crush you had? Just think, what would happen if he suddenly returned and wanted to regain that friendship? Would it be easy for you, or would you have reservations about losing your heart all over again with the possibility that things would never come of it? Yeah. Me too.


    The best for last. In Happily Ever After, written by Denise Hunter, we are introduced to spunky, plucky Molly who is recovering from the loss of her husband Curtis. Juggling being a single mother and trying to get Curtis's dream business up and running, she runs into problem after problem. And one of those problems is the handsome and charming Gage Turner who just happens to be her competition - and Curtis's old nemesis. Will she be able to get over the past or will she hold the grudge without knowing the reason why? Will she be able to make a go of the business, or is she doomed to fail?


    Meet Heather, Abby, Lia, and Molly. Four women, each with her own set of problems, trials, and triumphs, will show that life goes on. That they may have been knocked down, but they're not out for the count. After mistakes have been made, after regrets have been vanquished and pasts forgiven, these women show that courage doesn't mean you have to do everything on your own. That God gives us friendships - a truly special gift. Sharing their grit and determination to be what God wants them to be, these four embrace their destinies and encourage each other along on their own respective walks. Everyone needs friends like these. This book will not only touch your heart, but it will encourage you to be a better friend and to look past your own hardships and reach out to someone else.

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  • Posted January 31, 2014

    I want to visit Smitten, Vermont! The third installment of the S

    I want to visit Smitten, Vermont! The third installment of the Smitten books is just as much fun as the first three. I loved the new gals that were featured in this story as well as seeing glimpses of former favorites. Each story featured couples with different challenges to developing relationships. However, I just loved the over arching story of Molly was especially touching. Using Pearl Chambers’ book, Gentlewoman’s Guide to Love and Courtship, added not only some sage advice and some chuckles to the story as well.

    Even though the stories are short and don’t have the same story and character development as a normal novel we do see some continued development throughout the four stories. This is a testimony to how well these four authors work together. They each have a unique style while blending nicely with the other three.

    If you’ve read the other books this one is just as good. If you’ve never read this authors and are curious this is a great way to get an idea of what kind of writers they are. Even though this is the third in the series it stands independently from the others.

    Disclaimer: I did receive this book from the publisher, but was under no obligation other than to give my honest opinion.

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  • Posted January 30, 2014

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    Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, funny story of friendship, and h

    Smitten Book Club is a hopeful, funny story of friendship, and healing. A carry-through mystery plot links four love stories: all using many of the same characters, written by friends for friends.
    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 brings her own literary tastes. Heather sees it as a mystery. Abby discovers dashes of Jane Austen. Lia sees in it the idealism of days past. Molly just wishes they'd made the book into a movie!
    In spite of the historic book’s advice, one by one, each of the women find romantic love. 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.
    If you want a great pick-me-up, cute, and romantic book to read during an afternoon I recommend you get the Smitten Book Club.
    I received a copy of the book from Thomas Nelson Publishing in their Booksneeze blogging for books program for my review.

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