Ever notice how some teams of authors mesh really well together, not only in personality but in writing voice? This discovery was an increasing delight to me as I read through each of the four novellas in Cedar Creek Seasons.
This collection is set in contemporary Cedarburg, Wisconsin, an artsy community north of Milwaukee sporting the only remaining covered bridge in the state. Each author made full use of the flamboyant flavor of the town (which sounds like one of my favorite towns, Sandpoint, Idaho) and the historical, peaceful retreat provided by the bridge is a place of escape, thought, prayer, and. . .possibly kissing.
This team has written another Wisconsin collection together called Door County Christmas which released two years ago from Barbour. Two of the authors live in the state, while the other two have visited for team research. This extra attention to detail is obvious throughout the stories, even to a reader who’s never visited this town.
Not only did each author use a different season of the year as a backdrop for her story, but each also chose a different season of life. Thus the heroines in each tale range from 20-something to 60-something, which added to the allure of the collection as a whole.
The first story is called “A Contest of Wills” and was written by Becky Melby. We meet free-spirited Willow Miles as she participates in the annual Polar Bear Dip. . .and loves it. When the door to her old van lands in the snow, she grabs the nearest guy and begs for a ride home for herself and her kids. Then she invites her rescuer, Wilson Woodworth, in for Strawberry Chili. Wilson is a meticulous artist who’s living his life by a plan. He’s fascinated by the way Willow rolls with the punches provided by raising kids she didn’t give birth to and low funds. Her business building and painting children’s furniture is limited by her tiny basement, yet nothing seems to faze her. Nothing, that is, until they find themselves competing for the chance to win retail space in the coveted historic area of Cedarburg, which brings out the competitive nature in them both. Do opposites attact. . .or just keep butting heads?
Second in the line-up is “In Tune with You” by Rachael Phillips. This story features Chesca Appel, who’s a part time choirmaster for a Cedarburg church. She’s planning the most awesome cantata ever for Easter until her pastor calls her in to suggest a live drama accompaniment, run by tone-deaf football coach, Seth Amundsen. Too bad it isn’t a suggestion she can turn down. Chesca finds her orderly rehearsals filled with rambunctious children, unbelieving football players representing Jesus and the disciples, and a donkey. Just when she thinks she’s maxed out, the lambs appear. She can’t figure out why she’s attracted to Seth at all, yet has to deal with Seth’s biggest crush, a 9-year-old in the play, as well as his former (jealous) girlfriend. And the guy’s cheerful singing voice grates on her very last nerve.
In “Silvery Summer” by Eileen Key, newly retired Claire Parsons returns to Cedarburg to help her niece hawk her pottery at the annual Strawberry Festival and street fair. When the prong on her old promise ring snags things, Claire feels confident to enter the jewelry shop and ask for a repair job. After all, what are the odds Eli Mueller, the man who made the ring for her in high school, will still work there?
When a familiar ring lands in his hands once again, Eli must determine whether to take a chance on rejection from his one-time love all over again. Raised by pacifist parents, she’d never answered a single one of his letters from VietNam. Is it too late to find out why?
The final tale, “Maybe Us,” was written by Cynthia Ruchti. Beth Schurmer is well settled in Cedarburg caring for her beloved great-grandfather and their Yarn Shop. Seven-foot tall Derrick Hofferman has opened a chocolate shop but seems to spend much of his time sitting with Oompha by the stove in the back of the shop, listening to yarns of the old days and the old man’s yearning for heaven. Beth can’t bear to accept that time is coming. She doesn’t want anything to change–ever–even if it means pushing away Derrick and the growing attraction between them. As autumn heads toward Christmas, Beth considers the moebius she’s currently knitting–a scarf created in a loop with no discernible beginning and end. Is eternity something like that? And how about Derrick’s love for her?
Cedar Creek Seasons is easily one of my favorite Romancing America titles thus far. Each author infused her story with humor and hope. I also loved the little hints of the other novellas’ characters popping in here and there. This is a masterful collection you won’t want to miss.
Please join us over at Romancing America to read some of the background information on these stories and see gorgeous photos of Cedarburg. Comments over there will put your name in the hat to win a copy (USA only).
I received an e-copy of this collection for review from NetGalley. Opinions, as always, are mine alone.