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IN BOOK FORM!
Within every heart lies a flame of hope, a dream of true love, a glimmering thought that the goodness of life is far, far larger than the challenges and adversities arriving in every life. In Flames of Gold lie five short stories wrapping credible characters into that mysterious, poignant mixture of pain and pleasure, sorrow and joy, stony apathy and resurrected hope.
In "A New Tradition, " Leanne Burroughs introduces us to feisty Abigail Sommers, a woman filling in as a waitress for her ill friend. While Abigail is a staunch believer in women's suffrage, she's also wise enough in 1853 Saratoga Springs to disguise herself as a male in this job considered suitable only for men. All Abigail's certainty disappears with the arrival of Morgan Leighton, whose very look and touch make her heart leap around her chest. A wonderful yet challenging dance, a near catastrophic accident and more force Abigail and Morgan to make a pivotal choice commemorated with a sweet, little known tradition promising a wondrous future.
Then in "The Snowflake Ball," Amy Blizzard offers up a female Scrooge, the formidable Dr. Chloe Miller, a woman who can't wait for the holiday hoopla to disappear as it presents its horrors in a hospital emergency room of illness stemming from crazy accidental and self-induced holiday mishaps. So why would anyone ask her to be Mrs. Santa for the pediatric ward's Christmas party and what's with this stalking patient, Woody Larson, whom Chloe treats but who returns to help her with her Mrs. Santa role and much, much more? Tough but tender characters like Chloe, Woody, and other patients in Indianapolis Medical Center touch unexpected areas of readers' hearts and minds, leaving behind a memorable story for sure.
Next we meet Branson Adams and Gwendolyn Margate, two characters whose lives are about to be upturned with each other and a very special little girl in "Entertaining Angels" by Patty Howell. Gwen and this little girl, Nicky, are plagued by the need to trust and love again. It is Branson and other optimistic characters who help Gwen and Nicky realize that those casual, thoughtless prayers uttered in a single breath really might be answered, changing one's life and outlook on life forever!
Now enter the world of a very contemporary reality in the world of a little town called Mistletoe in "Chance for a Merry Christmas" by Judith Leigh. All the Mistletoe residents create a warm, accepting, enveloping atmosphere for those who are wounded physically and emotionally. Sue Johnson, whose mother passed away, and Chance, a wounded soldier home on leave from Iraq, meet and face the instantaneous reaction to each other which they only partially admit. For both have memories that cling so hard and the future in that environment looms with uncertainty. Will they let go and, like so many couples, allow love to heal the past, present and future?
Finally, Amber Dawn Bell in "A Christmas Flame" introduces us to Angel McKenzie and Jacob Campbell, two strangers whose lives are engulfed in the flame of failure, a world guaranteed to preserve their memories but shut out any possibility of warmth from the flames of love both so dearly need. One intense rescue on the part of Jacob and a little girl's faith-filled words will alter his inner world while a singular sermon will challenge Angel's world, creating a world of love for the future and wisdom for those who find it so very difficult to let go and let God!
Deftly plotted, paced precisely to hold interest and delightfully unfolding, Flames of Gold deserves to be enjoyed in any season, guaranteeing that real holiday spirit endures within the gifts of faith, hope and love personified in these engaging, spirited stories by these obviously terrific writers!
Reviewed by Viviane Crystal on December 14, 2008