Have you ever read a story that resonated with you? Where you felt you could live in that story? A couple years ago I found a free book offer on Amazon for a book serial called Past Forward. Are you familiar with serials? Years ago newspapers used to print serials and every week you would get the next installment of a story. Amazon serials work on the same premise, although authors don’t have to post weekly. But, the author of this particular serial, Chautona Havig, works hard to keep her stories moving. Past Forward still remains my favorite book to date and I even named my daughter after the main character. I felt like I could have been her.
Since that first book, I have read almost all of Chautona’s books, from the Regency Files (think spy-type novel), to Aggie’s Inheritance (want to know what living with a house full of kids is like?), to the Hartfield Mysteries (you guessed it: mystery). She also has a number of stand alone novels. I balled through A Bird Died (a true story about her grandson). Most of her books go on sale for $1 or FREE at some point or another and I love that she just wants readers to have good content. She also has a good editor and I have never had an issue with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors, etc, like many other “free” books on Amazon.
Some of her books I LOVED (like Past Forward and Hearthland) and some I didn’t enjoy so much (the main character in Noble Pursuits seemed a little too perfect). However, that being said, I really like how she creates characters with real spiritual problems. She gives us something to think about in each book, something that challenges us in our walk with the Lord. She uses people from every walk of life and different religious affiliations to teach us not to judge a book by it’s cover. Her current serial, Hearthland, is bringing a number of very different characters together but I love that they worship together, talking about salvation (one of the main characters comes to know the Lord through the testimony of a couple of the other ones), and encouraging struggling Christians to turn back to the Lord. She totally twists the “religious” stereotypes that many of us carry around and encourages us to think the way the Lord did in regards to others.
A couple months ago Chautona Havig offered some of her readers the opportunity to read her books while she was writing them, give her feedback, and write reviews at the end. It was neat to see her process as she worked through a novel (although I am so not patient in waiting for the installments!!!!).
Carol grew up in an orphanage in Romania, and Chautona shares some of the struggles that this character went through. Michal grew up in America with a loving family. The two meet through letters when they are 9 years old through a pen pal program. They remain fast friends until, many years later, Carol is given the opportunity to travel to America to work with Ralph at Hearthland in the artisan store. the two pen pals meet and many more lessons are learned as they work through misunderstandings and the true meaning of love.
You will love the play on words that Chautona has created here, as well as the lessons in chivalry, honesty, and bravery that her characters portray.
I really enjoyed this book and it’s relationship to the Hearthland series (second on my list of favorites next to Past Forward). You will love the twists and turns this story takes and will be surprised at how it ends. Chautona Havig truly is a gifted writer. If you’re looking for a great Christmas read this season, I heartily recommend Carol and the Belles.
Happy Reading. =)