Oct 26 2013 9:00am

First Look: The Christmas Wedding Quilt Anthology (November 1, 2013)

The Christmas Wedding Quilt by Emilie Richards, Janice Kay Johnson and Sarah MayberryEmilie Richards, Janice Kay Johnson & Sarah Mayberry
The Christmas Wedding Quilt
Harlequin / November 1, 2013, digital; November 5, 2013, print / $7.99

When they were young, cousins Ella, Rachel and Jo were always together at their family's lake house. As they grew up, though, they grew apart…until now, as the three must band together to grant a beloved aunt's dying wish: to finish the quilt she began as a gift for her daughter's Christmas wedding.

Let It Snow by USA TODAY bestselling author Emilie Richards
Searching for vintage quilting fabric, independent Jo is reunited with the man she thought she'd marry—and proves that sometimes the second time's the charm….

You Better Watch Out by Janice Kay Johnson
Ella is desperate when the unfinished quilt goes missing in her care. But a cocky lawyer might just help her find it— and find love.

Nine Ladies Dancing by Sarah Mayberry
Shy Rachel risks exposing her secret life when she falls for her quilting teacher's seemingly perfect son.

Together, Jo, Ella and Rachel create a Christmas heirloom that's both a wish and a promise—of happiness, hope and love everlasting.

I was especially excited when I saw the names of the authors contributing to Harlequin’s holiday anthology this year: Emilie Richards, Janice Kay Johnson and Sarah Mayberry. Not only do these three authors top my favorites list, but the premise is just so emotionally touching. I love books that celebrate the bonds of family and friends, and this book fits the bill in spades.

Emilie Richards starts the story off with Let it Snow. Jo Richards comes home after a long grueling overseas trip to find a package from her recently deceased aunt, Gloria Harrison. It is both eerie and touching to read words from her beloved relative.

Dear Jo,

I know this will come as a surprise to you. I’ve been sick for some time and have known for weeks now that I probably won’t live to see Olivia and Eric’s wedding. If they had been given a choice they would have moved up the date, but of course, they couldn’t, not with Eric serving in Afghanistan. I had hoped to live long enough to make a bridal quilt, but I know now that this first block is the most I will be able to finish.

I’ve thought about what to do next, and I’ve come up with a plan. I don’t have the strength to discuss it with all of you, so I am going on faith. You see, I am praying that you, Ella and Rachel will finish the quilt for me.

In the aftermath of lost dreams—a mother and daughter having to accept that they won’t be able to share this special milestone together—there is stirring poignancy to this unadorned request, a true testament of a mother’s love for her child.

Of course, finishing the quilt is not without it challenges. And this one quest—to fulfill a dying woman’s last wish ends up changing the lives of all the individuals involved.

I know this a project you probably wouldn’t choose. But please do this for me. I know this quilt will be in good hands, Jo. You always try to do the right thing without complaint, sometimes to your detriment, but this project may have surprising results. I hope it will bring you closer to your cousins. I know Olivia will need her family once I’m gone.

Jo’s initial impression is one of dismay. She hasn’t quilted in over fifteen years, and now her aunt wants her work to be part of her last gift to her daughter. She immediately realizes that she could hire someone to do the job, and no one would know, but she would, and she feels honor bounded to fulfill her aunt’s last request.

Being the high achiever that she is, she immediately thinks of adding some of Eric’s baby clothes to the quilt, and that quest sends her back to Kanowa Lake, New York, the home of her first love. There are some wonderful surprises in store for her there.

After Jo finishes with the quilt she sends it to her cousin Ella. And Janice Kay Johnson continues the story with You Better Watch Out. The call from Jo, asking for help in finishing her aunt’s wedding gift to her daughter, rejuvenates Ella. After her mother died, she lost touch with that side of the family. This connection again with family opens up a creative side Ella didn’t know she had.

With the gift packaged and ready to mail to her other cousin Rachel, in Australia, Ella makes a quick stop at the art gallery that handles her ceramic pieces. On her way back to her car, disaster happens – someone right in front of her eyes, steals her car, and the precious, irreplaceable quilt. Determined not to lose sight of car—in fact she plans on confronting the offender before he can get out of downtown traffic, she takes off at a run and smacks right into Brett Hollister— which cost her valuable time. Since she can no longer catch the thief on foot, she implores Brett to follow her car and surprisingly he agrees. He is very surprised that she is so attached to her aging Subaru:

The car turned right on Pike. Going for the freeway after all? No, left on Eight. Brett wove in and out of traffic mentally converting yellow lights to green. No squad car had appeared, much less closed in on them. Less than a block separated him from the Subaru. He was beginning to wonder what he could do when he caught up.

“What year is it?” he asked, his eye on the square back of her Subaru.

Her tense stance didn’t change. “95”

“Good God. Why don’t you let him have it?”

“It’s not the car. I don’t care about the car. It’s...” She almost sounded on the verge of tears. “It’s this package I was going to mail. I can’t lose it. I can’t!"

Ella and Brett have their own adventures as they attempt to find her car, and the missing quilt, and these adventures change their lives for the better.

Sarah Mayberry picks up the story in Nine Ladies Dancing with a Yank transplanted in Australia.Rachel Macintosh is the last cousin to receive the quilt. Of course she agreed to do her part, but once she opens the box and sees how gorgeous it is, she is intimidated:

Her first instinct, born of panic, was to email Ella and Jo and tell them that there was no way she was capable of matching their skill, and that they needed to work out another way to finish the quilt. The last thing Rachel wanted to do was tarnish everyone else’s amazing contributions with a substandard offering.

This quilt was far too important for that: a message of love from beyond the grave from Aunt Gloria to her daughter Olivia, a lovingly crafted reminder that although Olivia had lost her mother, she would always have her love.

But Rachel doesn’t want to be a quitter. She wants to be part of this momentous project. So she does what she always does – and what her job as a librarian has taught her — research, and seek out an expert.

The person she turns to is Gabby Bennett. Gabby is glad to offer her help and they make arrangements to meet at Gabby’s home. It is there that she runs into Leo Bennett, Gabby’s son, her former school classmate–and a jerk of the biggest order–at least that is the impression that Rachel formed at fifteen years old.

Of course eighteen years has passed and neither Leo or Rachel are kids anymore.

There is plenty of character growth and touching moments packed into these short stories, built around the importance of family, even when the members have long lost touch with each other. You want to be sure to add this anthology to your holiday reading.

Learn more about or pre-order a copy of The Christmas Wedding Quilt by Emilie Richards, Janice Kay Johnson, and Sarah Mayberry, available November 1, 2013:

Buy at Amazon

Buy at B&N

Buy at iTunes

Buy at IndieBound



Leigh Davis, Blogger

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Maggie Boyd
3. maggieboyd66
I am excited to see this Christmas story by Johnson. She's one of my favorites.
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