Books are food for my soul! Pull up a beach chair and stick your toes in the sand as the Jersey surf rolls in and out, now open your book and let your imagination take you away.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman (Book Review)

In association with Litfuse Publicity, Jersey Girl Book Reviews welcomes Anita Higman, author of A Merry Little Christmas!

About The Author

Best-selling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has over thirty books published (several coauthored) for adults and children. She’s been a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston and has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Anita loves good movies, exotic teas, and brunch with her friends. She lives with her family near Houston.

A Merry Little Christmas - Trailer

Book Review

A Merry Little Christmas by Anita Higman
Publisher: Summerside Press
Publication Date: October 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover / Paperback - 256 pages / Kindle - 363 KB / Nook - 635 KB
ISBN: 1609366883
Genre: Historical Romance 

BUY THE BOOK: A Merry Little Christmas

Disclaimer: I received a copy of the book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review and participation in a virtual book tour event hosted by Litfuse Publicity.

Book Description:

Fall in love with this cozy story about two people from different worlds. 

Franny Martin is an Oklahoma farm girl who’s preparing to spend the holidays alone…again. Then Charlie Landau shows up one day, all wealth and polish, and offers to buy Franny’s farm. Franny has no money to speak of, but she is clever and spirited, and she’s more than happy to sell the farm and move to the city. 

As Sinatra croons from the radio and Christmas descends upon her charming farm, Franny teaches Charlie the curious and sometimes comical ways of country life. In the process, they unearth some discoveries of the heart—that sometimes love comes when you’re least ready for it. Will the holidays bring their most impossible dreams within reach?

Book Excerpt:

As the last musical ribbons of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” tied up like a bow, Franny hopped down on the other side of the pig fence, picked up her radio and slop bucket, and heaved a sigh. Christmas was coming, and it looked like she was going to spend the holidays alone. Again.

With that piteous little thought bobby-pinned to her mind, she turned around and came face-to-face with a man. A stranger! She let out a yelp loud enough to startle the man and arouse the poor hogs into a frothing frenzy.

The bucket and radio went flying as Franny went slip-sliding onto the muddy ground. The man reached out and caught the radio before it landed in the muck. He looked at her and winced. “I’m really sorry. I could only catch one of you.” He stretched out his hand to lift her out of the mud.

“That’s okay. I’m glad you caught the radio instead of me.”

The stranger got her upright and steady again. Franny looked at her overalls and wool coat, which were covered in mud. She tried to brush off her clothes, but the thick sludge sort of fell in hunks like flattened Milk Duds.

“It was my fault,” the man said. “You wouldn’t have lost your footing if I hadn’t scared you. I’m sorry.” 

The stranger offered her a little-boy shrug—even though he looked thirtyish—but Franny couldn’t tell if it was an act of contrition or just an act. “Who are you, anyway?” She’d never been afraid of strangers before—never even locked her doors at night. Who did? But she wasn’t accustomed to strangers appearing out of nowhere.

“I’m Charles...Charlie Landau.”

Charlie. Good name. Even better brown eyes. He didn’t quite have that James Dean look to make a woman lose all her senses, but it was close enough. “I’m Franny Martin. And how long have you been standing there watching me, Charlie Landau?”

“Long enough to know that you love music. And you talk to your pigs like they’re family.” His grin lifted one side of his mouth, but it was a guileless smirk, so she let him off the hook. For now.

Franny rested her mitten-covered hand over her heart. “Well, who doesn’t love music? I mean, it’s the artistic glue that holds the corners of the world together. It’s our porch view of heaven. Without music, we’d be wallowing in the mire like these hogs.” She glanced at her pigs. “Sorry, boys.” Then she turned back to Charlie and added, “Without music we’d be less inspired, less human. Wouldn’t we?” She stared at him, wondering if he thought she was crazy.

“Pretty impassioned speech.” He grinned. “Like a politician... only believable.”

Franny fiddled with the ends of her woolen head scarf, a little embarrassed that she’d gotten so carried away with a stranger. “I don’t get many visitors out this way.” “I came to buy your farm.” Charlie straightened his shoulders.

“I have plenty of money, and I’ll pay cash. I’m determined to be a farmer, you see.”

Franny lifted her chin, studying him.

“It’s been for sale for almost twelve years. You really want this old ramshackle dirt farm with a hundred-year-old house? Just you and the coyotes, scraping along, trying to make a living?”

“Yes, I really do want to buy your farm. That’s it.”

“How did you find out about it?”

“Your Realtor had a small ad in one of the papers.”

“Oh. Well, are you willing to pay me what I’m asking?” Hmm.

Maybe Charlie would mention whether he had a wife.

“I saw the asking price.” Charlie raised his chin a mite. “And I’m willing to pay you every penny. More if I have to.” More? Franny wondered if he were the crazy one. It was a lot of money, but then he looked well-off, dressed as he was in his tailored trousers and leather jacket. Certainly not country-boy clothes. She paused to take a peek at the dreams she’d folded away in the hope chest of her heart, remembering how she’d always longed to move to the city. It didn’t take but a few seconds to pull them out, give them a good shake in the fresh air, and try them on again—only this time for real. The dream fit just fine.

"Well, then, Mr. Charlie Landau...” Franny’s smile widened with every word. 

“I have to congratulate you on investing in a one-of-a- kind charming farmhouse, which sits on two-hundred-and-fifty acres of the finest Oklahoma farmland in the state...where the wheat crops rise to meet you, the sun shines always on your back, and the fatted cows just get fatter.” Franny grimaced. “I think I just made a mess of an Irish blessing.” “I think you did.” Charlie chuckled. And then he smiled at her— a devastating smile.

“All right.” Franny pulled off her head scarf. She no longer needed it anyway. Charlie had made her forget all about the autumn chill. “How about a tour of the property and then a cup of coffee? I have the best: instant Folgers.” She fluffed her hairdo.

“Do you have any Ovaltine?” “No, but I can make you homemade hot chocolate.” The deejay, fuzzing in and out on the radio, said something about Christmas and Brenda Lee, but Franny didn’t absorb the announcement. She’d gotten lost in the eyes of a man who’d just made the most romantic offer she’d ever heard—a way out of farming, a way to fulfill her ultimate dream to be closer to the music. The transistor whirred to life again like a tiny alien spacecraft, this time playing Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.”

Charlie took a purposeful step toward her. “We can’t miss this. It’s got a great tempo. Know how to do the Swing?”

Franny cocked her head at him. “You’re kidding. I’m covered in mud.”

He shrugged and held out his arms. “Shall we?”

My Book Review:

A Merry Little Christmas is a heartwarming love story about two people from very different worlds: a country farm girl and a rich city boy, who are drawn together by their mutual love of music and similar dreams. Set in the turbulent civil rights time period of 1961 during the Christmas holiday season, they will embark on an unexpected journey that will change their lives forever.

Thirty-three year old Franny Martin is an Oklahoma farm girl who has always dreamed of living in the city and working in the music business. But at the age of eighteen, he parents die in a tragic accident and she inherits their farm. After twelve years of trying to work the farm all by herself, the bright lights of the city and a desire to become a radio DJ are calling her, so she decides to put the farm up for sale.

Thirty-five year old Charlie Landau comes from one of the wealthiest families in Oklahoma. He has tried many times to prove himself to his domineering father, Albert Landau, a very successful businessman, that he could take over the family business, but his attempts at various business ventures have failed, and he is a disappointment to his father. Deep down inside Charlie's real dream is to be a musician, but his father would never approve of that career choice for his son.

In one last ditch effort to prove he could succeed in business, Charlie leaves the city for the country. He shows up at Franny's farm and offers to purchase the farm in cash. But there is one problem, Charlie doesn't know anything about being a farmer! Charlie hires Franny to teach him how to farm in three weeks, then she will move to the city to pursue her dream. During their time together, they become close and share a mutual attraction, but after Thanksgiving the time has come for them to part ways.

Once in the city, Franny realizes that her dream to pursue a career as a radio DJ isn't as easy as she thought it would be, and she regrets selling her farm. Likewise, Charlie is having a hard time managing the farm. When their paths cross again, Charlie asks Franny to come back and help him run the farm. But complications arise when Franny befriends Noma Jefferson, an older African-American woman, and has her move to the farm to help them out. Racial tensions erupt within the townsfolk and Charlie's strained relationship with his father cause complications that will test Franny and Charlie's relationship. Can Franny and Charlie overcome the complications and discover what awaits them during the Christmas holiday season?

A Merry Little Christmas is a heartwarming tale of hope, love, faith and redemption. Author Anita Higman weaves a poignant tale of having hope and the belief in finding love when you least expect it. Told in the third person narrative, this is a wonderful love story of two people who share a mutual love of music and similar dreams, while also touching upon dysfunctional family matters and the racial tension of the pre-civil rights movement time period. This is a touching story about finding love, dealing with past pain and loss, and overcoming adversity. Rich in detail and vivid description of the Oklahoma farm country, the reader is transported to 1961 with wonderful nostalgic sights, sounds and societal references of that time period. The author weaves a story mixed with romance, humor and drama; with twists and turns that keeps the reader turning the pages.

I loved the author's character development of Franny and Charlie as the story unfolds. There is nothing better than to read a toughing story about how two people from very different lives come together and along the way discover love. Franny is a feisty girl that you can't help but embrace, while Charlie is an endearing and honest guy who is trying to find is place in life; together they provide the reader with romance and humorous banter as their love story unfolds. The supporting cast of characters lends a dramatic edge to the storyline that keeps the reader riveted.

A Merry Little Christmas is a touching feel good story that will warm your heart especially during the Christmas holiday season!


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