Book Review: The Gift of Christmas Past

6 Dec

Arson wasn’t the only fire that ignited between them.

Promises shattered.

Lies spoken.

She was arrested.

He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents.

Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire.

Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family.

Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all?


Cindy Woodsmall is the “New York Times” and CBA best-selling author of eighteen works of fiction. She’s been featured in national media outlets such as ABC’s “Nightline” and the “Wall Street Journal”. Cindy has won numerous awards and has been finalist for the prestigious Christy, Rita, and Carol Awards. Cindy and her husband reside near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains in Flowery Branch, GA.

Erin Woodsmall is a writer, musician, wife, and mom of three. She has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. She is very excited about their first coauthored book.

Find out more about Cindy and Erin at


My Impressions:

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and her daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall is a departure from the best-selling author’s usual Amish genre. This new venture is a treat! While the setting may be different, this Christmas novella is still filled with the same heart that fans have come to love. My book club is reading this book later this month, and I look forward to a lively discussion.

Hadley and Monroe are just seventeen years old when they fall in love. Vowing to stay together, they are soon ripped apart by false accusations, family pressures, and obstacles stacked against them. Nearly 10 years later, as Hadley is close to reaching her dream of becoming a licensed speech therapist, another unfortunate fire and a hurting little girl throw the two together. But there are a number of past secrets that work to keep them separated yet again.

The authors set up a no-win situation for Monroe and Hadley in their early years. Both characters feel deeply, but their vulnerability, inexperience, and young age work against them. They are trapped by others’ perceptions and prejudices. I felt they were realistically portrayed in the early part of the book. But while Hadley’s character continues to be credible (I really liked her!), I found Monroe naive and immature even as an adult. For someone with many achievements and a great deal of responsibility, his reliance on his parents seems a bit unbelievable. But his character grows up and grew on me. By the end of the book he is a man of convictions and principles. Supporting characters are well-developed, especially Elliott and Trent. The Gift of Christmas Past is no fluffy novella. Serious issues are explored, and I found myself intrigued by the speech problems presented and the plight of at risk teens, especially those in the foster care system. This book is a meaty read without being too heavy — its great strength. In the epilogue, readers find the characters 4 years in the future — and what a great future it is. This one has a happy ending!

The Gift of Christmas Past promises great things for the duo of Cindy and Erin Woodsmall. I look forward to more from the two in the future.


Audience: older teens and adults.

To purchase this book, click HERE.

(Thanks to the authors and LitFuse for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

7 Responses to “Book Review: The Gift of Christmas Past”

  1. bellesmoma16 December 6, 2017 at 9:24 pm #

    Love your review. I agree with your assessment of Monroe. It is a bit odd that he’s so controlled by his parents even as an older guy. It’s like he stunted at 17 with the event between him and Hadley and couldn’t move past it.

    • rbclibrary December 7, 2017 at 7:39 am #

      I thought about Monroe’s character — a young man eager to please, who trusts his parents implicitly (they seem to have all the right answers). Maybe that would impact his conduct. But I still think it was a bit unbelievable.

      • bellesmoma16 December 7, 2017 at 8:28 am #

        I agree…unless they were playing off the Millienial stereotype. That thought struck me as I was thinking about your review.

      • rbclibrary December 7, 2017 at 4:36 pm #

        I guess my children are millennials, but despite my attempts at manipulation, they seem to have their own minds. 😉 Must be that we made them work and pay for things at an early age. And the fact that we wanted them to be independent. I think the millennial stereotype is just that. I know a lot of kids in that age group that don’t fit the label.

      • bellesmoma16 December 7, 2017 at 5:18 pm #

        I agree! I don’t like the millennial stereotype. I can see aspects, sure, but I really don’t like fitting all people of a certain age bracket into the same group. My three brothers are millennials, but for the most part they are responsible adults who live on their own. Some had bumpier roads to get there than others, but they all got there. They are employed, they pay taxes, take care of their brand new families, etc. My parents raised me and my brothers to work hard. They taught us too to come to them for advice when we need, but ultimately know the decisions we make our are own. You sound like you are a great parent!!!

      • rbclibrary December 7, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

        I hope I am a reliable and consistent parent! 😉 It was hard and we sure made plenty of mistakes. But our kids turned out great. Prayer helped a lot.


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